Usually a convention center wouldn’t make it onto my “must see” list when visiting a city, but Palais des congrès de Montréal is one of my regular stops when ever I travel to Quebec’s largest city. It’s a fantastic building, fun and stylish enough to fit in with the cool Latin Quarter neighborhood surrounding it.
On west side of the building there is an amazing colored glass facade that keeps luring me back for another peek. The creation of Jean-François Cantin, Michel Lemieux and Victor Pilon, the glass facade is known as Translucide and was added as part of the 2002 expansion of the convention center.
Its vivid and cartoon colored panels are eye catching from the outside, but it’s when you enter the building and experience it from inside that you really appreciate the beautiful effect of Translucide. As light streams into the building, the 300+ glass panels bathe everything behind them in colored light. Tinted squares of lovely pink and green and yellow spreading all over the interior floor. It’s stylish and modern, but at the same time it also reminds me of traditional stained glass windows. Very pretty!
Also on the ground floor of the Palais des congrès is Lipstick Forest- an installation by Québec landscape architect Claude Cormier. It’s a trippy forest of dozens of bright pink concrete trees that reach up to the ceiling. Just staunch thick trunks, no leaves. Meant in part as an homage to the strong maple trees that run along Montréal’s historical streets, they’re a pleasure to see. It’s impossible not to feel whimsical walking through these pink trees – they look straight out of a children’s book. Or maybe a strange dream?
The Palais des congrès is located between downtown Montreal and Vieux Montréal, a very easy spot to pop into while on your way between neighborhoods. And if you happen to be in the building for one of the centers frequent trade shows or exhibitions, save some time to interact with the art on the street level and appreciate the fun bit of escapism in the center of Montréal.