Text by Caia Hagel
The Stade de Soccer de Montréal is not your everyday sports facility, sited as it is along the pit-edge of a former quarry that is being turned into a 470-acre ecological park in the middle of one of the Canadian city’s most ethnically diverse neighborhoods. The design, by celebrated local firm Saucier+Perrotte Architectes working with HCMA Architecture + Design, draws on natural forms and resources from the region such as spruce and zinc to articulate a seamless indoor–outdoor program and celebrate the landscape, multiculturalism, and the power of a working-class sport to bring communities together.
“The sports facility is emotional—it brings a diverse spectrum of people together in one environment, under one roof, united by sport,” says design partner Gilles Saucier, AIA. “The Stade, we hope, is an inclusive representation of the future of international cities.”
The central idea evident in the initial project sketch—a geometrically complex volume that echoes the craggy excavated face of the quarry—helped the project win a 2014 Progressive Architecture Award from ARCHITECT, and the concept has been fully realized in the built project, which opened last year: The regulation-size indoor soccer field is covered by a spectacular clear-span timber roof with an exposed, seemingly random but highly rational grid of beams on the diagonal. A slim two-story volume along one flank accommodates locker rooms, a fitness and physiotherapy room, an event space, a food court, and offices for the regional soccer association.
The exterior is clad in zinc to tie it thematically to the quarry’s geological and mineral history, and a high-performance glass envelope blurs the inner and outer landscapes. Two “shoulders” of structure at the northwest edge of the indoor field extend out and fold down to form spectator seating on one side of an adjacent exterior field and a wall with team benches on the other.
To realize the complex’s 44-foot-high roof, the architects brought on Québec firm Nordic Structures. Thirteen 226-foot-long glue- and cross-laminated-timber box beams, made from locally sourced wood and each weighing in at 77 metric tonnes, are combined with three 75-foot-long steel joists to form the main structure, while 3-foot-9-inch-tall lateral timber members provide secondary support at irregular but structurally purposeful angles. This disorganizing effect is exaggerated by the lighting, which includes linear fixtures mounted on the diagonal cross pieces. “If you look closely at the beams, they are not perpendicular,” Saucier says. “It would have been easier to make them straight, but the angle causes the ensemble to look haphazard—just like in nature.”
Project: Stade de Soccer de Montréal, Montreal
Client: City of Montreal
Design Architect: Saucier+Perrotte Architectes/HCMA Architecture + Design, Montreal/Victoria, British Columbia . Gilles Saucier, AIA (lead design architect), André Perrotte (principal-in-charge), Darryl Condon, Trevor Davies, Michael Henderson, Lia Ruccolo, Patrice Bégin, Charles-Alexandr e Dubois, Leslie Lok, David Moreaux, Yutaro Minagawa, Vedanta Balbahadur, Marc-André Tratch, Nick Worth (project team)
Structural/Civil Engineer: NCK
Mechanical/Electrical Engineer: Bouthillette Parizeau
LEED Consultant: Synairgis
Wood Structure: Nordic Structures
Size: 402,570 square feet (site); 118,403 square feet (building footprint); 135,625 square feet (gross floor area)