La référence des professionnels
des communications et du design

My culture includes design

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Rendez-vous November 2007, which took place November 12 and 13 at the Palais des congrès, was organized to affirm Montréal's status as a cultural metropolis of the 21st century; and, for the first time, design was a part of the equation.

These two days of meetings and exchanges, a fruitful dialogue between the Government of Canada, the Quebec Government, the City of Montréal, the Board of Trade of Metropolitan Montréal and Culture Montréal, will help to anchor and reinforce Montréal's position as a unique cultural city in North America.

The "Rendez-vous" was organized around two complementary, but distinct initiatives. First there was "Place du Rendez-vous," which welcomed almost 70 cultural groups, seeking to promote their projects and cultural initiatives so as to increase their funding opportunities.

Created in the spirit of a public square by the designers of Rita, the "Place du Rendez-vous" sought to increase awareness of Montréal's potential as a cultural metropolis. Many architectural and urban planning projects were presented, including the cultural foyer of the Place des arts, the 2-22 Sainte-Catherine East building, the new Quartier des spectacles and the redevelopment of the downtown entrance of the Bonaventure Expressway by the Société du Havre de Montréal.

The second initiative, more political, was the discussion of an action plan, a road guide of sorts to "Montréal, cultural metropolis" for the next ten years. This action plan was drafted with three strategic approaches in mind and, on Monday, November 12, each one of them was the subject of a plenary session.

Players from Montréal's art and culture scene along with representatives from the provincial and federal government participated in these open-to-the-public sessions that were overseen by Montréal Mayor Gérald Tremblay.

The third session, entitled "Improving the cultural quality of the living environment" gave much room to design, architecture, city planning and to the quality of public space. This session emphasized the indispensable alliance between the arts, heritage, design and urban development, while establishing the criteria of a "Montréal brand."

As an introduction, architect and city planner Clément Demers called for the design of a public space to be considered a cultural act. He reminded us that design, architecture and city planning constitute the most visible expressions of our culture and, as such, are the first things that a tourist sees. They are the factors on which he bases his judgments of a city and its inhabitants.

For his part, Simon Brault, president of Culture Montréal, called for Montréal to value its uniqueness and to acknowledge its creativity and diversity. He identified three components that he felt were necessary to make Montréal a cultural metropolis: heritage, architectural and design quality, and the redevlopment of large representational areas like the Havre de Montréal and the Quartier des spectacles.

Anne Cormier, director of the Faculty of Landscape Architecture, Design and Urban Planning at Université de Montréal, emphasized that the quality of a living environment is largely based on the quality of construction. She made an appeal to the municipal administration to support architecture and urban planning contests so that we can all benefit from the savoir-faire and expertise of Montréal designers. Cormier also made mention of initiatives like Créativité Montréal's business design contest and the urban planning workshop for the redevelopment of Place d'armes.

Claude Benoît, president of the Old Port of Montréal Corporation, accompanied by author and actor Marcel Sabourin, called for the establishment of a historic quarter, a place holds a strong sense of identity for Montrealers and is also a tourist destination like the Pointe-à-Callière Museum of Archaeology and History.

Phyllis Lambert, founding director and chair of the board of trustees, asked that more attention be paid to the redevelopment of public places. She reminded us of the importance of organizing and supporting design sessions and workshops, and called for all Montrealers to start living Montréal as a cultural metropolis.

Mario Gagnon, president of the Association des Designers Industriels du Québec, talked about the Conférence interprofessionnelle du design du Québec, an organization bringing together professional associations and orders working in design in Québec. Gagnon drew attention to the fact that everything that surrounds us involves design. Patrick Messier from Messier Designers stressed the fact that design brings together culture, citizens and tourists.

Finally, the Mayor of Montréal, Gérald Tremblay, concluded the session by announcing the redevelopment of Dorchester Square and Place du Canada; both will follow Place d'armes' urban development model. He also reminded us of the importance of valuing excellence in design and architecture and made a call for more contests and workshops. "We should offer the city to designers as a playing field for innovation", he stated.

Translation by Jennifer Edwards