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Place Bonaventure

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The City, Inside-Out Montreal  Canada

The City, Inside-Out

The Place Bonaventure is widely recognized as one of the most important buildings constructed in Canada in the 1960s, though that’s not to say it's universally loved. It’s a regular contender for the title of Montreal’s ugliest building. For the student of architecture, however, whether armchair or otherwise, it’s worth a visit to see an outstanding example of brutalist architecture. Architect Raymond Affleck's vision was to turn the city inside-out in a building appropriate for its location in a cold climate. The Place Bonaventure was designed to include a conference center, hotel, and several floors of retail space, all along internal streets while the building presents a foreboding exterior of ribbed concrete (echoing the design of the seminal Architecture School at Yale University by Paul Rudolph) to the street. The entire complex included 3.1 million square feet of floor space, making it the largest building in the world when it was completed (in 1967). Much of the retail space was converted to offices in later renovations, though the conference center and the hotel (now the Hôtel Bonaventure Montréal) remain. The photo here was taken inside the hotel—a walk around their common spaces will give you a taste of Affleck's vision for a new urban architecture.