Scaffolding creates shelves for green leaft plants in the Bioquare office in Montreal

This Montreal Office Takes Biophilic Design to the Next Level

At the heart of efforts to revitalize Montreal’s downtown business center is I. M. Pei’s iconic Place Ville Marie, a cruciform skyscraper that dominates the city’s skyline. At street level, Place Ville Marie is just as consequential, supplying a green esplanade in a part of the city that can feel gray and inaccessible. For decades, four quadrants at the base of the tower were the home of the Royal Bank of Canada, but three of the blocks have now been taken over by poly-creative agency Sid Lee, whose architecture arm carried out a root-and-branch redesign to bring the space into the 21st century. 

The goal of the project was to make the interior of the 1962 building feel fresh and welcoming for the new generation of creative staff working there. To achieve that, Jean Pelland, architect and principal partner at Sid Lee Architecture, and his team drew inspiration from the infinite grid motif of the Place Ville Marie development and imbued every element of the design with it, creating a continuity between the public esplanade outside and offices inside. The result is the illusion of an infinite floating lattice that’s accented by the vibrant green of tropical plants. It has aptly been christened the Biosquare. 

“It was based on the modern design principles, which dictated how the original building was constructed—with an infinite grid which runs through all four quadrants that make Place Ville Marie’s base,” explains Pelland. “We thought it would be interesting to do the same in a microcosm.”

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