Montreal’s $67.1 Million outdoor Rink – The City of Montreal is ready to go ahead with their project to build an outdoor skating rink and four-season public square in the Quartier des Spectacles, near the corner of Clark and St. Catherine streets. The winning design was unveiled on Sunday April 30th and will be built on a vacant lot, over a 5,000 square-meter area. The skating rink will be opened from November to March and then morph into an ‘urban terrace’ during the summer.
The project, being called ‘Esplanade Clark’, was first planned for 2012 but was held back by contract issues and concerns about underground parking – the latter of which will no longer be included. It is presently estimated to cost $67.1 million, with funds coming from a federal-provincial infrastructure program. Part of the funds will be used to rebuild a section of Clark St. and make improvements for access to the Place des Arts area.
Mayor Coderre seems to have a penchant for ‘City versus City’ competition as of lately, most recently being the sad example of last season’s Christmas tree, of which he had declared would be ‘taller and better than New York City’s famous tree in Rockefeller Center’. NYC’s tree was 94 feet tall and crowned with a Swarovski crystal star. Montreal’s tree stood at only 70 feet and was decorated with Canadian Tire logo ornaments – and now he is saying ‘Esplanade Clark’ will be ‘bigger and nicer’ than Rockefeller’s legendary winter ice rink. Let’s hope his expectations are built on reality this time.
‘Esplanade Clark’ is the last phase of the major redevelopment project for the Quartier des Spectacles. It will be located on the west side of Clark St., between St-Catherine and de Maisonneuve and will have a new public square with a large urban terrace. In the summer, there will be food kiosks and ‘urban street furniture’ will be installed. There will also be a grassed area in the northern part of the site. From November to March there will be a refrigerated ice rink and access to a pavilion.
The goal is to make it a ‘particularly welcoming public space for families and children’, with the design of the layout intended to create ‘an inviting and comfortable place, with a more intimate atmosphere’.
The west side of the square will house the ‘multifunctional pavilion’. In winter, the hall on the ground floor will hold a locker room for skaters where they can change, warm up their toes and relax. Skates will be available for rent as well. In the summer, it will be re-imagined as more of a cultural area with a cafe-bookshop and workshop in the plans.
The upstairs part of the pavilion will have three multifunctional rooms: a reception room located above the restaurant, the ‘Urban Chalet – a cozy and comfortable space, as well as a production area for hosting festivals with lodges for artists. Outdoor terraces adjacent to the rooms can be used for ‘receptions and events, but could also be used to host school groups, cultural or artistic workshops or other activities aimed at the general public’.
The architectural design of the building is aimed to maintain the warm character of a chalet, using wood for the structure and a part of the building’s interior lining, and it will also have a green roof.
A terrace located alongside the ice rink and right near the pavilion is aimed ‘to contribute to the life of the public space, both in winter and in summer. In this space, users will be able to consume locally purchased food or alcoholic beverages and other refreshments or may bring their own meals and settle there to observe the skaters or summer activities’.
During summer the grassed area will be able to accommodate a mobile stage for concerts and other special events – otherwise it will be a free space available for relaxation or spontaneous activities.
In his news statement, Mayor Coderre said (translated from French), “Esplanade Clark will become a very welcoming and very lively meeting place all year round… a beautiful space in the heart of our city to enjoy with family or with friends. It will complete the development of the Place des Arts hub and depending on the season, it will be a place to take a minute to stop and relax, socialize, surf the Web, go skating, see a show or share a good meal. It will be the image of Montréal, a dynamic and lively place at all times.”
Construction is scheduled to start in the fall and it will be completed by fall 2019.
Do you think the project will become a welcome addition to Montreal’s city life? Is it worth a $67.1 million investment? Or will it become an over-hyped 5,000 square-meter shadow of Rockefeller Plaza skating rink?