Harold Ship Alexis Nihon Plaza and Nuns’ Island Master Plan project records

Harold Ship Alexis Nihon Plaza and Nuns’ Island Master Plan project records

Part of


  • Harold Ship (archive creator)
  • Harold Ship (architect)


Harold Ship Alexis Nihon Plaza and Nuns’ Island Master Plan project records

Dates of creation



  • archives

Level of archival description


Extent and Medium

  • 1 619 drawings (including reprographic copies)
  • 330 photographs
  • 5 l.m. textual records
  • 5 models
  • 2 panels

Scope and Content

The Harold Ship Alexis Nihon Plaza and Nuns’ Island Master Plan project records, (1956- 1973), document architect Harold Ship’s design and plan for the Alexis Nihon Plaza (1959-1973) and the Nun’s Island Master Plan (1956-1965).

Alexis Nihon Plaza project:

Known as one of the first vertical shopping malls in Canada, the Alexis Nihon Plaza, as designed by Harold Ship, was a multi-purpose complex that featured an interconnected shopping centre, parking lot, apartment building and office tower. Located in Montréal, Québec, the plaza is bordered by Atwater Street, Saint Catherine Street and de Maisonneuve Boulevard (then Western Avenue). The Alexis Nihon Plaza was built in four phases: Phases 1-3 were completed by Harold Ship (1965-1972) and Phase 4 was realized by the firm, Dimakopoulos & Associates, architects (1987-1988).

Phase 1 of the Alexis Nihon Plaza project focused on the construction of the plaza’s multi-storey base. This 7-level base featured an illuminated central atrium that looked over a 450 000 sq. foot shopping centre, comprising of over 88 shops and a 3-tiered parking garage. Phases 2 and 3 of the development saw the construction of an apartment building (known as the Apartment Tower West) and a 10-storey office tower.

Materials relating to the Alexis Nihon Plaza project focus on Ship’s design of the plaza’s base, the Apartment Tower West and the 10-storey office tower (Phases 1-3).

These project records hold a vast selection of drawings, mostly original, consisting of conceptual sketches/studies, development, preliminary, working, and presentation drawings. Drawings outlining structural engineering and mechanical systems as well as drawings for smaller projects relating to the Alexis Nihon Plaza, such as designs for an Odeon Theatre, a branch for the Bank of Montréal, a post office, various stores, and several layouts for offices are also included in these project records. The promotional panels present the Atwater Metro Station and the Apartment Tower West’s curtain wall.

Textual documentation (1959-1973) consists of rental plans, construction reports, correspondence, meeting minutes, studies, contracts and specifications as well as clippings and publicity reporting the project’s unveiling in 1966 and the opening of the Alexis Nihon Plaza in 1967.

Photographs present two early project models of the plaza and a model of the Apartment Tower West. Various photographs show the construction of the base, office building, and the Apartment Tower West’s curtain as well as interior and exterior views of the completed base and shopping mall. Objects in this archive consist of 3 study models and 2 presentation models of the Alexis Nihon Plaza.

Nuns’ Island Master Plan:

The Nun’s Island Master Plan was a residential development project for Nuns’ Island, Montréal. The development of Nuns’ Island was proposed in 1955-1956, when the Québec Housing & Mortgage Corporation Ltd acquired the island from the Sisters of the Congregation of Notre Dame of Montréal. Ship’s Master Plan planned to allocate 50% of the island to the development of residential neighbourhoods, comprising of a variety of housing types (apartment buildings, townhouses and single family houses). The rest of the Nuns’ Island would be composed of parks, recreation areas, schools, churches, commercial centres and institutional buildings.

However, in 1960, the Nuns’ Island Master Plan was postponed and eventually abandoned when its prospective developer, Chicago businessman Herbert S. Greenwald, passed away. In 1963, Ship developed a second scheme for Nuns’ Island, in competition with the Montréal firm, Prus, Schoenhauer, Seeman. Ship’s second design included the construction of a large commercial/residential complex, which had been absent in his initial Master Plan. However, this second design was also never realized.

Materials relating to Ship’s initial Nuns’ Island Master Plan consist of a site analysis, lot and technical surveys, as well as preliminary designs, design development drawings and consultant drawings. Sketch proposals of Ship’s second Nuns’ Island scheme of 1963 are also included in these project records. Textual documents comprise of a newspaper clipping and a typescript copy of information concerning Ship’s first Master Plan.

Reference Number



These project records have not yet been arranged.

Biographical notes

Harold (Herschel) Zvi Ship was born in Montréal, Québec on July 27, 1922. In 1938, Ship joined the war effort, initially enlisting in the Royal Canadian Air Force. Soon after, Ship trained and completed his service as a radio operator. From 1946-1951, he studied architecture at McGill University while also maintaining a full-time position at the architecture firm, Wood & Langston. He was made partner in 1951; the firm was renamed Wood, Blachford & Ship. He married Nancy Solomon in 1953 and they had children together.

In 1956, Ship was approached by the Québec Housing & Mortgage Corporation Ltd to draw up a master development plan for Nuns’ island, which he worked on independently from Wood, Blachford & Ship. In 1958, Ship established his own architecture firm, Harold Ship architect.

From 1961-1967, architect Stanley King (1927 - ?) worked for Ship as a contracted designer; they collaborated on a number of projects such as the Alexis Nihon Plaza. For the Alexis Nihon Plaza project, King was a key contributor to the concept and planning process and was responsible for much of the early conceptual development drawings.

In 1972, Ship partnered with Hyman L. Krakow to establish the firm Ship & Krakow. Together, they focused primarily on designing commercial, industrial and residential built projects in Montréal and the surrounding areas. Some of Ship’s most notable clients are Air Canada, Molson Breweries, IGA, and Odeon Cinemas. The practice operated as Ship & Krakow until 2007, when Krakow retired. Ship maintained the firm independently until 2010; his last built project was a seniors’ residence. Ship passed away on August 20, 2013.

Conditions governing access

  • Access by appointment only.

Conditions governing reproduction

  • For copyright information or permission to reproduce material from the project records, please contact the CCA (reproductions@cca.qc.ca).

Immediate source of acquisition or transfer

  • Gift of Harold Ship, Hyman L. Krakow, and Stanley King

Custodial history

The Harold Ship Alexis Nihon Plaza and Nuns’ Island Master Plan project records were donated to the Canadian Centre for Architecture on April 12, 2003 by Harold Ship; a subsequent addition was made in 2004. Materials were received directly from the architecture studio of Harold Ship. Additionally, a presentation model of the Alexis Nihon Plaza was donated on March 1, 2003 by Ian Barrett.

Archivist's note

  • These project records have not yet been arranged. A fonds level description was created by Patricia Di Palma on January 30, 2017.


Montréal Island of Montréal Québec Canada

Credit line

When citing the collection as a whole, use the following citation:
Harold Ship Alexis Nihon Plaza and Nuns’ Island Master Plan project records
Collection Centre Canadien d'Architecture/
Canadian Centre for Architecture, Montréal
When citing specific collection material, please refer to the object’s specific credit line.

Language of material


Related units of description

  • Bibliothèque et Archives nationales du Québec (BAnQ) holds the bulk of Harold Ship's professional and personal papers in the Fonds Harold Ship. It includes more materials related to the Alexis Nihon Plaza and some materials for the Nuns' Island Master Plan.

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