Building, park, and sculpture garden
The CCA building and garden are an urban reconstruction project conceived in the 1980s in the western end of downtown Montreal, around the historically classified mansion known as the Shaughnessy House (1874, designed by William T. Thomas) and bridging a road that leads to the city’s system of highways. Opened in 1989, the 12,000-square-metre new building was designed by Peter Rose with Phyllis Lambert, consulting architect, and Erol Argun, associate architect to house exhibition galleries, the Paul Desmarais Theatre, a bookstore, research facilities including a study room open to the public by appointment, state-of-the-art conservation and collection facilities and curatorial offices. In parallel, the conservation and restoration of the Shaughnessy House made it one of the rare nineteenth-century Montreal houses open to the public. Through scale, siting, and the juxtaposition of traditional and modern local materials—mainly grey limestone, structural aluminum and maple wood—the CCA building relates architecture’s past and present.
The building is surrounded to the north by Baile Park, and to the south by Boulevard René-Lévesque and the CCA sculpture garden, which restored the urban fabric of an area deeply scarred by mid-twentieth-century highway engineering. Lying at the edge of an escarpment, the garden was designed by Montreal artist-architect Melvin Charney as part of the Québec government’s competition program for the integration of art and architecture, combining sculpture and public space on a site granted to the CCA by the City of Montréal in 1986. At once a garden in the city and a museum in the open air, it evokes the history of landscape design and comments on Montreal’s early industrial sector below the hill, initiating a dialogue between nature, architecture, and the urban fabric.
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