In the late 1800s, the Canadian Pacific Railway company built the Place Viger train station and hotel in Montreal, Quebec, featuring sloping roofs and circular turrets. In recent years, this historic building has been given new life by software company Lightspeed, which has made it its headquarters, hosting more than 640 employees.
The building conversion project has been developed in several phases by ACDF Architecture, a Canadian firm directed by Maxime-Alexis Frappier, Joan Renaud and Etienne Laplante Courchesne. During renovation of the hotel and station, which has some six floors above ground, the designers restored the soul of the building, uncovering and highlighting its red brick and gray stone walls, wooden beams and steel structures.
The third and most recent phase of this process, completed a year ago now, covered an area of some 900 sq. m on the building’s top two levels, transforming what had been storage space into a sequence of environments offering workstations, meeting rooms and training areas. The firm’s approach relies on strong color and lighting contrasts: the lobby from which the elevators run is characterized by dark tones and low-level lighting, while the corridors are designed to shine, flooded with light like white galleries.
Workstations are arranged in rooms at each end of the floor, crowned by the interlocking wooden beams that form the pitched roof. A circular space in a key position was repurposed as a small amphitheater, with stepped oak seating at the base of the curvilinear outer brick wall.
Phase one of ACDF Architecture’s project, covering approximately 2,600 sq. m on the building’s third and fourth floors, was completed in early 2015, with a lobby at the lower level entrance. Here, the dark old steel structure dialogues with the light, bright tones of the contemporary furnishings, notably a white countertop crisscrossed by broad red stripes that start at floor level, literally cutting through the front and top of the item of furniture before climbing up the wall: when viewed from the right angle, these graphics morph into the shape of Lightspeed’s logo. Nearby, three small, colorful houses are accessorized with benches inside, for people to sit down on and informally exchange ideas. In the canteen, one wall is fitted out as a kitchen, the tables arranged as if enclosing a rectangular blue space in which, as if in a pool, the stools are placed.
In the spring of 2017, the second phase of the project was completed, renovating an area of more than 1,000 sq. m on the ground floor of the west wing. This area is now a series of open spaces with workstations and meeting rooms, each one in a different pastel shade. Beyond the long brick and stone wall, what once was the hall between the two Viger and Berri train stations has been transformed into a large common area that can accommodate 300 people.
Now that phase three has been completed, ACDF Architecture is in charge of the final two steps. The fourth phase takes care of a 3,200 sq. m area on the building’s second level while taking into account pandemic-related distancing needs; the fifth and last phase will revisit a 1,200 sq. m ground-floor area that will be occupied by a new client with a demo space and employees food court.
Location: Montreal, Quebec, Canada
Client: Lightspeed POS
Gross Floor Area: 10,000 m2
Interior Design: ACDF Architecture
Main Contractor: Construction Busch
Electrical and Mechanical Consultant: BPA
All images courtesy ACDF Architecture
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