Is Montreal Still a 'City of Design'?

Montreal may have been a "city of design" when it hosted 1967's World Fair and UNESCo says it still is. But one prominent Canadian architect is skeptical.

"Expo 67 marked the centenary of Canada's confederation and established Montreal as a design spot to watch. A geodesic dome by R. Buckminster Fuller was the highlight of the American pavilion, but the fair's coup de grâce-and one of Montreal's enduring architectural symbols-was Moshe Safdie's Habitat 67, a geometric apartment complex that looks like Mies van der Rohe's take on an Anasazi cliff dwelling."

"Though Montreal isn't booming quite like Toronto or Calgary, the très European stone streets of the Old City are still a favorite of tourists-and of the American under-21 set looking for a beer. Downtown development and its bustling arts scene prompted UNESCO to honor Quebec's cultural center by dubbing it a "City of Design" in 2006. But at least one architect in Montreal is skeptical about the honor bestowed by UNESCO."

Dwell: "You take some exception to this City of Design idea being applied to Montreal."

Gilles Saucier: "I've got nothing against Montreal being a City of Design, and there is a lot of wonderful design here, but to just establish it as a fact is kind of strange to me. We need to do more than just say that we're a City of Design. It must be a goal of ours so we can orient the city toward that objective. I'm sure the chambre de commerce is really happy that Montreal is this City of Design, but they've been promoting the same things for a long time. We're still living on that old image of Habitat 67 and the Olympic Stadium [built for the 1976 games]. In 1967 we were at the center of the world's attention. And for the past 40 years we've been losing that centrality. We need something to put us back on the map-not the Bilbao effect, but something organic and lasting."

Full Story: Montreal Exposed

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