Îlot Balmoral, a 13-storey mixed-use building commissioned by the Société d'Habitation de Montréal (SHDM), is a brilliant testimony to the city's creative economy. Integrated into the Quartier des Spectacles, the impressive structure stands in the heart of downtown Montreal and adjoins the Place des Festivals. It houses the new headquarters of the National Film Board (NFB) as well as the UQAC School of Digital Arts, Animation and Design (NAD School).
Îlot Balmoral was chosen to represent the very dynamic and lively nature of the sector where it stands.
On the surface, it appears as a very dynamic structure emerging from the urban fabric. This almost perfect cube, with elegant and clean lines, is covered with an outer glass envelope, carefully chosen for its white screen-printed pattern and transparent panels. A smooth, flawless coating that allows the facade, on occasion, to turn into a giant screen on which various initiatives of the Quartier des Spectacles can be projected. Its subtle and energetic character gives the structure a feeling of mass and substance, while the glass facade helps to maximize natural light. The screen-printed pattern, for its part, makes it possible to control the thermal heat input inside the building, thus meeting the objectives of the architects for LEED Gold certification.
Natural light penetrating the exterior facade illuminates a vast interior atrium divided along a diagonal in the center of the building so as to create two distinct volumes. Here, the architects were inspired by the site's former pedestrian route, which presented a diagonal between the Place des Arts metro station and the Place des Festivals. To better highlight this flaw and to enhance the visibility of the building on the horizon, a bright red exterior panel contrasts with the glass envelope.
The color was chosen to echo the materials associated with the cultural image of the Quartier des Spectacles, and allows Îlot Balmoral to stand out among traditional office buildings in the area.
As a nod to the importance of Îlot Balmoral for Montreal's creative scene, the National Film Board of Canada is one of the building's anchor tenants. Celebrating 50 years of excellence in the field of cinema, this Canadian institution wanted to modernize and transform its facilities. The move included the reinstallation of the iconic NFB logo, itself a symbol of Canadian design history, in the new lobby.
Visuals ©: Stéphane Brügger