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architecture: March 2013 Archives

Church being converted into gym and spa

sophie 158.jpgJust last week, the world's attention was focused on Rome, as Catholics and non-Catholics alike waited for the plumes of white smoke to float up from the chimney of the Vatican to announce the selection of a new pope.

But here in Quebec, many churches stand empty. Convents, monasteries and churches have been converted into condos or theatres.

And questions still remain about what to do with the real estate congregants have vacated.

A former Dominican church on St. Denis Street in downtown Montreal is now under renovation.

In April, new owners plan to open Le Saint-Jude gym and spa in the former sanctuary.

The design for the renovation won a Canadian Architect 2012 Award of Excellence.

The jury called architect Thomas Balaban's design "a refreshing solution for the elephant in the room of decommissioned, unprogrammed church structures often left stagnating in the neighbourhoods across the country."

See a photo album of Le Saint-Jude on our Facebook page.

Listen to Cinq à Six host Jeanette Kelly's conversation with one of the partners in the project, Tony Attanesco.


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(Photo credit: Tanya Birkbeck)

Are we just nostalgic?

366px-Girl_with_a_Hoop.JPGBy Jeanette Kelly

I grew up in a flat-roofed house, with pictures windows, floor to ceiling,
an open concept living and dining room and Danish modern furniture.

I loved the clean lines, the wood panelling on the walls and the views out over the poplar trees.

But I've never since then lived in a modern house!

My first apartment on rue Desjardins in Old Quebec was a rickety affair with deep stone walls and sloping floors.

My current home was built in the early 1920s with some oak trim and a couple of leaded glass windows.

I'm nostalgic for the modern. But it would seem that a lot of us are still stuck even further in the past.

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Modern architecture at risk

agora.jpgIt's not just crumbling old buildings that need saved, says a community group in Montreal.

Heritage Montreal recently released a list of threatened heritage sites.

Almost half of the locations on the on the list were built in the past 100 years.

Among the at-risk sites is the Agora (pictured) and Square Viger. The public parks built above the Ville-Marie Expressway in the 70s and 80s were supposed to become spaces for concerts and gatherings, but now are more popular with panhandlers and homeless people than the general public. But Dinu Bumbaru says the structures -- which may appear rather stark by today's standards -- still have value and should be preserved.  

Other modern sites on the Heritage Montreal list include a housing co-op in St. Leonard and Expo 67 installations, especially the Place des Nations.

Listen to Jeanette's interview with Dinu Bumbaru:  

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