Client: Administration portuaire de Montréal / Montreal Port Authority
Location: Montreal, QC, Canada
Completion date: 2023
Sculpture fabrication, installation
Granite pavers installation
Alex Maçonnerie Inc.
OverviewThree compressed spheres evoke water drops landing on the quay. Semi-transparent, made with stainless steel tubes, each sits within a black Cambrian granite oval. In summer months mist rises inside each structure, drifting out through the artwork. The Port of Montreal is one of the most important ports in the North Atlantic for container traffic and transportation. Facing the St. Lawrence River, it welcomes both cruise ships and ocean freighters. The quay is part of the project to provide new facilities for shipping lines and improve reception for cruise passengers. It also better integrates the pier into the urban landscape of Old Montreal and improves access to the river for Montrealers, tourists and visitors. The St. Lawrence River has always been a significant factor in the development of Montreal. It was the route bringing settlers from France who established their first encampment along its shores and instrumental in the flourishing growth and importance as a maritime shipping port. Given this history and the artwork’s siting on a quay in this river, water was the guiding narrative for the sculptural installation. 8’7” (H) x 31’7” x 30’3”.
The commission was for a fountain work on a human scale, sited within a 33’ x 33’ square on the new quay. It was to mark the maritime entrance to the city, not obstruct the views onto the river, be visually imposing and invite contemplation. These goals were important for the scale and to the design of the artwork. I chose to use mist instead of a fountain for its mysterious, evocative qualities, to recall the mist that rolls along the river, and to better accommodate the site’s strong winds. The visual overlapping of the tubes within and between the structures contribute to the interest from multiple viewpoints. The artwork continually changes as one walks around and between the structures, or when seen from above from a cruise ship docked at the quay or from inside the adjacent tower. Light and shadow patterns are cast along the dock following the sun during the day and over the seasons; snow adds a poetic element in winter, with transient snow flakes drifting onto the sculptures, as do water drops glistening on rainy days. Open, permeable, playful, the artwork doesn’t obstruct views onto the river but engages with it, and announces Montreal’s maritime entrance.
I worked closely with many professionals and trades for this project, during the competition design development stage, through the fabrication and the artwork installation. Plan HB translated hand drawings of my working maquette into computer drawings. Atelier Dédale produced the sculpture maquette for the competition presentation. Ateliers Bernier-D’Hulster fabricated the artwork. We have worked closely for many years; I was involved in all detail decisions and was consulted at each stage of fabrication. Poincaré engineers oversaw the fabrication, installation and foundation concept with input from the fabricator and myself. Arco cut the granite pavers to my design specs; Alex Maçonnerie Inc. installed the complex pattern on the quay. Bernier-D’Hulster and Formaviva installed the artwork. Each step required much coordination and collaboration on everyone’s behalf.
Provencher_Roy designed the quay and the adjacent tower, NIPPaysage designed the landscape elements. Soucy Aquatik provided everything connected to the mist component. I met with them throughout the process to coordinate the artwork’s integration onto the new quay.
The installation takes into account the contemporary approach of the landscaped elements, the anticipated circulation, the nearby trees. A staircase from the quay provides access to the St. Lawrence River and to the adjacent grassy area open to the public. At night, each structure is illuminated with a different shade of blue/green.