Founded in 1786, Molson Breweries is the oldest brewery in Canada. Strategically located close to Montreal’s business center and closely linked both historically and geographically to the Saint Lawrence River, the Molson properties are a unique group of heritage structures that speak eloquently of the history of the brewing industry and the evolution of Montreal.
The limestone facades of Molson’s historic properties stretch along three city blocks, forming an architectural ensemble of significant heritage value. Once a vibrant part of Old Montreal, the historic properties have been cut off by freeways and parking lots from the rest of the city. The project is based on the idea that quality urban space is as important to our experience of the city as heritage architecture: as well as the restoration of facades, the proposal includes the revitalisation of the surrounding streetscape, the reconstruction of vacant land, and the adaptive reuse of existing structures.
Requalification of the streetscape began with the relocation of freeway ramps, the re-planning of truck access, and a new parking strategy for the entire district. The scheme includes the extensive greening of a previously hard-surfaced urban landscape. Sites were identified for the construction of infill buildings and sidewalks were widened. The centrepiece of the project is a new public square that provides a prestigious entry to Molson’s corporate headquarters building.
As a complement to the heritage structures’ administrative and brewery functions, a new program of uses introduces cultural tourism in the form of a brewery museum. The participation of Molson’s historic properties in Old Montreal’s museum circuit is both a stimulus to urban activity and a strategic marketing initiative.