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Old/new – the revitalisation of Dorchester square and Canada place, Montreal 

Sophie Beaudoin
Landscape Architect
Claude Cormier + Associés inc.

The terms “rehabilitation”, “interpretation” and “landscape histories” form the premise of our projects on heritage sites (an important part of our work). Our approach is guided by the idea that heritage is a living thing and an evolving concept, and that the components of a site’s history are inherent to its meaning – better yet, they are inspiring. Heritage, like many aspects of a project, can seem constraining: our goal is to reverse this attitude. This presentation addresses the enhancement of an emblematic historic site in Montreal, Dorchester Square and Canada Place, that was completed in 2008-2010. We show how this historic public space, long neglected in terms of maintenance, was rehabilitated to give it new life. Its redesign created a space where memory and identity of place are reinterpreted in today’s terms. Design strategies shaped contemporary spaces without destroying historic values. While a certain amount of caution is required when intervening on historic sites in order to preserve their heritage, we also believe it is possible to create new experiences of place, to innovate and to surprise. The design of Dorchester Square and Canada Place in Montreal embodies the slightly crazy idea that landscape innovation and landscape conservation can be complementary.