The creation of the Saint-Pierre Passage is in keeping with in the further development of the pedestrian network of Montreal’s underground city, and is one of the peripheral projects connected with the development of the Quartier international de Montréal (QIM). Located at the eastern end of the World Trade Centre Montreal (WTCM) atrium, the Passage provides access to the QIM underground network. This affords access, protected from the elements at all times, to the Convention Centre with its link to the subway station, the Caisse de dépôt government building, underground parking and Jean-Paul Riopelle Square.
Société immobilière Trans-Québec (SITQ)
The Saint-Pierre Passage volume is sheathed in steel and glass, occupying the open space of the former Ruelle des Fortifications, between Saint-Pierre Street and the existing entry to the WTCM. From this position, which is bathed in natural light, it is possible to glimpse the historic St. James Hotel, the WTCM atrium and the InterContinental Hotel.
The structure of the volume envelopes the Passage, either supported delicately on its environment, or respectfully detached from it, thereby preserving the site’s architecture integrity. The design posed a major challenge because of the many physical, spatial and legal constraints associated with the site. The final proposal was approved by the Viger Commission and the Quebec Ministry of Cultural Affairs.
The main challenge in designing the passage was to provide the underground link to the QIM, while maintaining access from the WTCM to Saint-Pierre Street—all in a relatively small space just the width of the former Ruelle des Fortifications. Moreover, the need to comply with the Building Code forced us to design the outer form of the Saint Pierre Passage atrium based on “exposing building” criteria applied to the St. James Hotel, whose rear face borders the Passage.
In addition to the challenges listed above, the creation of a transparent sheath covering the passage, like a spider web, required considerable technical ingenuity in terms of the structure itself, as well as the joining of various glass surfaces: all the calculations of the various elements of the outer envelope had to be done in a three-dimensional model and geodetic coordinates. The results of this architectural work are a tribute to the effort that went into the execution: the Passage has a sense of lightness, totally transparent and bathed in light, with a strong contemporary character, yet harmonized with the more classic structure of the atrium. Users coming from the QIM who enter the Saint-Pierre Passage thus have an impressive direct view of the alley space and the grandiose atrium of the World Trade Centre Montreal.