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Place Ville-Marie

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By: Dick Nieuwendyk – mtltimes.ca

 

Place Ville-Marie near completion - 1962
Place Ville-Marie near completion – 1962

At the time of its construction, 1 Place Ville-Marie was the tallest skyscraper in the Commonwealth, and with a height of 188 meters, the third tallest in the world outside the United States. It was named after Fort Ville-Marie, the French colony of 1642, what is now Montreal.Plans plan for the Place Ville-Marie complex were presented in 1958 by Donald Gordon, CN president and William Zeckendorf, a prominent American real-estate developer. Designed by American architect Ieoh Ming Pei & Associates, and built between 1959 and 1962, the complex consists of a cruciform 47-storey tower, and four lower office buildings.  The  cross-shaped tower’s  smooth aluminum and glass surface and  geometric  form  demonstrates  Pei’s adherence to the mainstream 20th-century modern design. It has 13,054 windows, which takes an average of two men working 60 days to make them shine. Besides 52 elevators, 1

Place Ville-Marie - 1912
Place Ville-Marie – 1912

Place Ville-Marie has 1013 steps from bottom to the top (a record is held by a Montreal firefighter who climbed all in 8 minutes.11 seconds). A revolving beacon light turns on at dusk and off at 1 a.m. You can see its light over a distance of 58 kmand takes about 32 seconds for a full rotation.  The penthouse was home to the Altitude 737, a restaurant and nightclub, named for its elevation in feet from sea level, and one of the most famous in the city. During the 1960s, the largest occupant and anchor tenant of 1 Place-Ville-Marie was the Royal Bank of Canada’s head office. Other tenants included Air Canada’s headquarters in 1975.  PVM has its own shopping promenade, and is directly linked to the underground metro network, the intercity and suburban trains, as well as to Montreal’s underground pedestrian city network that extends over 32 km in length.

Queen Elizabeth II looks at a model of  PVM, with Montreal Mayor Sarto Fournier  and Donald Mumford, GM of the Queen  Elizabeth Hotel.  (Photo 1959: David Bier - Montreal Star)
Queen Elizabeth II looks at a model of
PVM, with Montreal Mayor Sarto Fournier
and Donald Mumford, GM of the Queen
Elizabeth Hotel.
(Photo 1959: David Bier – Montreal Star)

The complex is currently owned by the Ivanhoe Cambridge, a division of the Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec, who bought the building in March 2000.

 

In June 2016, Au Sommet Place Ville-Marie, a new multi-floor attraction opened to the public. Visitors start by passing through a reception area and boutique, accessible from the current shopping gallery under Place Ville Marie. From there, an elevator takes them to the 43rd floor foyer. A second elevator will bring them up one level, to Restaurant Les Enfants Terribles, with its four-season terrace and a panoramic view of the city, or further up to an interactive exhibition gallery on the 45th floor, and finally to an observation deck on the 46th floor offering a breath-taking 360-degree view of the city.

 

Place Ville-Marie under construction - 1961
Place Ville-Marie
under construction – 1961

Place Ville-Marie is bordered by René Lévesque,Mansfield, Cathcart and University Streets.

 

Source: PVM / Mtl Gazette / The Canadian Encyclopedia / MemorableMontreal

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