Art Deco in Old Montreal
October 3, 2016 / Posted by Heritage Montreal - Collaborator Oliver Marshall
We are lucky to be able to witness many exceptional feats of Art Deco architecture here in Montréal. Though the style lacks notoriety, the movement behind it has been important throughout the history of architecture as it was a precursor to modern architecture which casts aside the influences of the past. Art Deco is recognizable by its verticality accentuated by its setbacks and continuous lines among many other key features. It is also characterized by its many geometric shapes and floral patterns sculpted in bas-relief. It is a truly enthralling style, and we are proud to present some of the greatest realizations of Art Deco that Old Montreal has to offer !
The former McDougall & Cowans brokerage firm is a seven-storey narrow tower with an architectural style that will truly take you off guard! It was diligently designed between 1929 and 1930 by architect James Cecil McDougall and is located right beside the Place d’Armes metro station. The exterior boasts three magnificent bas-reliefs built by Henri Hébert, a Montréal-born sculptor and the son of renowned sculptor Louis-Philippe Hébert. These decorative details emblematically honour the company’s values: Prosperity, Hard Work and Finance.
As the offices of the Montreal Star, one of Canada’s most influential English newspapers at the time, started to crowd, the paper decided that it would need a new building. It then commissioned the Ross & MacDonald architecture firm, one of the country’s greatest, for the task. The construction of the Montreal Star II building was completed in two stages. Firstly, between 1926 and 1928, the company built a two-level basement and a single-storey structure in order to house the newspaper printing presses. Then, in 1929, they began the construction of the towering thirteen-storey skyscraper built with consecutive setbacks. This truly spectacular building features many elements of the Art Deco style. The mullions and transoms which surround the ground floor’s windows and the metal spandrels between both of the window panes feature plantlike patterns which bloom at different areas on the façade.
The Aldred Building’s 23 storeys make it the tallest and most important of all the structures in this article! It was built between 1929 and 1931 by the architecture firm Barott & Blackadder. It is quite a distinguishable building as it resembles a pyramidal stone wedding cake. Its exterior walls boast designs which are classic to the Art Deco style such as plant- and animal-like abstract shapes and geometric shapes. The patterns were sculpted with great care with prestigious materials such as marble, travertine and bronze; the result of this amalgamation is stunning and colourful. The building’s exterior is truly breathtaking, and the interior is well worth the slight detour.
The Art Deco style truly modernized architecture, and all three of the buildings described in this article are emblematic of this movement in Montréal be it by the simplicity of their shape and their decorations.
©Pictures : www.vieux.montreal.qc.ca