Claude Provencher, conveyor of beauty
Beauty. The first word that comes to mind when I think of Claude Provencher, conveyor of beauty. This man was passionate about the beauty of the country and knew how to share it.
With a stroke of his pencil, his gesture asserts itself in the streets he draws. The buildings he creates or recreates become landmarks in the city – our urban landscape becomes illuminated. Iconic locations like the World Trade Centre Montréal, Samuel De Champlain Bridge, Îlot Balmoral, Musée national des beaux-arts du Québec, and the Reception Pavilion of the National Assembly of Québec are among the many interventions that bear the Provencher name and inspire us to take care of the country.
Through his love of modernity, continual pursuit of excellence, and talent for bringing projects to fruition, he elevated standards and the architectural profession as a whole. He knew how to use architecture as a vehicle for beautifying our cities and streets. A wonderful mix of rationality and fantasy, our cities and streets have therefore become more beautiful thanks to Claude. His works are likened to painted scenes reflecting greatness and beauty, and prompting contemplation.
I’m sure that Claude has already sketched a scene or two for the afterlife – a realm that is doubtless more sublime since his arrival.
Generosity. A second word that represents Claude Provencher well. We were colleagues throughout ten years, as members of the Conseil du patrimoine culturel du Québec, an advisory organization I began to preside over in 2011.
Even while managing a business of several hundred employees and despite all of his related responsibilities or being in full design mode of a stadium, hospital, school, or airport, he never hesitated to give his time generously to assist us. He impressed us with his moral authority, calmness, and soft-spoken nature (even too soft-spoken, at times).
Claude brought the rigour, openness, and the amazing culture of creative critiquing that made the Conseil du patrimoine culturel a respectable institution. Thanks to beautiful spirits like his, the Conseil established and maintained a reassuring presence.
I always appreciated the intensity of Claude’s approach. For him, there was never a large or small file, a project that was more or less interesting, nor a proposal worthy of consideration or not. There were only projects deserving of improvements. He believed that there’s never a compromise for excellence.
Elegance. Yet another word that comes to mind when I think of this exceptional man. In the words of Jean Cocteau: “Elegance ceases to exist when it is noticed.” The type of elegance that surrounds us is also that of Claude Provencher. But for Claude, its highest incarnation was the elegance of the heart. His courteous and respectful approach with colleagues always enabled him to have innovative and worthwhile ideas validated and accepted. He mastered the art of persuasion.
Claude infused the Québécois architectural strategy with a new cultural policy. I remind you that it was, in fact, under his guidance that the Conseil du patrimoine culturel and the Ordre des architects joined together to defend their convictions, presented to four culture ministers. Convictions expressed in the form of a strategy, which became a national policy that was actually announced by the Premier this past autumn. A big step in furthering the Québécois quality of life and better reflecting our cultural identity.
The history of Québec can be woven together in various ways. One thing is certain: it has also been shaped in large part by Claude Provencher.
Thank you for everything, Claude.
Past President of the Conseil du patrimoine culturel du Québec