New Downtown Hub for HEC Montreal Strengthen Ties Between Academics and Business Community

Construction is wrapping up on Provencher_Roy’s new downtown hub for HEC Montréal, a centre for entrepreneurship and research that will forge strong ties between the school and the Montréal business community. Located at the intersection of the Quartier des Affaires, Quartier des Spectacles, and the Quartier International, the building will be a centre of exchange that spurs innovation through collaborative programs for academics and business leaders.

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Photo credit: Provencher_Roy

The project marks a move back to the downtown area where HEC Montréal began in 1907—and, where it can engage the city's economic players. It will also add much-needed capacity to the fast-growing school, whose student base has grown 64% in recent years. The facility will house spaces for professional development courses, collaborative research into emerging areas like AI, and conferences, increasing capacity for the school while supporting partnerships with leading businesses in Montréal.

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Photo credit: Provencher_Roy

Targeting LEED Gold, the centre will host 27 classrooms, a 300-seat auditorium, and a centre for events and lectures. Public amenities—including a library, lounge, cafe, interior garden, and courtyard—integrate the building with the city and offer new community spaces.

The lower levels house the meeting and gathering functions and are easily accessible from the three main entrances. Above are the floors with the classrooms, a program stack that concentrates activity at the base to animate the site. The upper levels house meeting rooms, classrooms, and administrative offices of the Executive Education department. The northwest wing of the building houses a research centre where business leaders and top academics can collaborate on emerging technologies like artificial intelligence.

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Conceived as a crossroads, the 24,000-square-meter facility is organized around two circulation axes that traverse the site and converge on a central skylit atrium that rises five floors. The design arises from the unique geographic and urban qualities of Montréal, embracing the characteristics of this city built on a mountain to create a building eminently of its place. Open and accessible from all sides, the building functions more like a neighbourhood in itself than a standalone structure.

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Photo credit: Provencher_Roy

The design inserts a contemporary academic facility onto a site brimming with history, defining HEC Montréal’s presence in the city while paying homage to both the landmarked Saint Patrick's Basilica next door and the history of the grounds themselves. The scheme follows three core principles: dynamism, lightness, and respect for the site.

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Now an undeveloped lot in the shadow of the basilica, the site was once home to St. Bridget's Refuge, a shelter for Irish women during the 1860s. The new building preserves much of the greenspace, transforming it into a landscaped park that extends the forecourt of the basilica. At the north-east wing, the facades incline away from the basilica, preserving views onto the historic structure from the surroundings. This portion of the building is also shorter than the rest, deferring to the height of the basilica. Generous glazing on the lower floors of this facade creates sightlines from the interiors to the basilica and opens the new building to the surrounding plaza.

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Photo credit: Provencher_Roy

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Provencher_Roy developed the final design in collaboration with community members and stakeholders to ensure it paid due respect to the site's heritage and contributed to the surrounding urban fabric. A series of consultations and co-design charrettes were held with public authorities, residents, heritage experts, and the business community, inviting these voices to contribute to the design.

About PROVENCHER_ROY

Provencher_Roy is an award-winning Canadian architecture practice involved in all forms of the built environment. With over 30 years of experience, it offers services in architecture, urban design, urban planning and landscape, interior design, industrial design, sustainability and graphic design. 

The firm brings together nearly 350 passionate professionals working in all areas of the environment built in Canada and abroad. Its portfolio boasts noteworthy achievements in the institutional sector, as well as in the field of science, including laboratories, educational and transportation facilities, and mixed-use projects integrating office, hospitality and retail vocations. 

Over the years, Provencher_Roy deserved over 170 awards and distinctions recognizing the excellence of its projects in Quebec, Canada and abroad.


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