How do Montrealers feel about the Bonaventure Project?
Bonaventure Project – “I prefer to call it ‘art in public spaces'”—said Jaume Plensa during a conference he gave at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts (MMFA) this past Tuesday in reference to the usual concept of “public art”. Plensa’s art will indeed be present at the renovated Bonaventure Boulevard, the new name for the former highway that serves as the entrance to the downtown area. The whole sector between the Lachine Canal and Notre Dame St. that used to be an elevated structure will now be lowered and transformed into a place with trees, green spaces, and public art. It was one of the many pet projects envisioned by Mayor Denis Coderre to commemorate Montreal’s 375th anniversary. At least on paper, the concept seems fascinating since it aims at giving the incoming motorists a more human-scale introduction to the city core, while at the same time it should provide pedestrians with an area where they can stroll and even socialize. The addition of green space would also be a plus for that part of downtown. The question that was raised at the time this project was announced was whether people would actually go there, considering that the area is not very populated, although this is also changing a bit, with new real estate developments in Griffintown for instance.
The project which required the demolition of the former highway has cost the city 105 million dollars, and it is supposed to be finished this year. The sculpture by Catalan artist Jaume Plensa is called “Source” and will be located in the green area in the middle of the boulevard, near the emblematic Five Roses sign. The face of the sculpture will be facing downtown, as the artist explained during the conference at the MMFA.
The website of the City of Montreal described the project in these terms: “Newly created public spaces, safe pedestrian corridors and walking areas, freshly planted trees, public artworks and improved dog parks—that, in a nutshell, is what the Bonaventure project is all about.”
During his presentation, Plensa also referred to the project as a “romantic one” alluding to the spirit of the city, his work with its supporting structure resembling roots is a reference to the many cultures that have converged on Montreal.
The monumental work by Plensa will be inaugurated on September 8.