On June 24, The Musée national des beaux-arts du Québec (MNBAQ) will welcome the public to its newest building, the Pierre Lassonde Pavilion. Designed by OMA, Rem Koolhaas’s groundbreaking design firm, the 48,900-square-foot (14,900-square-meter) pavilion nearly doubles the 83-year-old museum’s available exhibition space.
OMA describes the structure as a “gateway”: an inviting, contemporary space that both draws together the existing structures of the complex and connects the museum more directly to the life of Québec City.
“It was a very strategic move for the museum, because it used to be a museum in the park, but they acquired a site facing the Grand Allée — which is the main boulevard of the city,” explained OMA partner Shohei Shigematsu. “Art becomes a catalyst that allows the visitor to experience all three core assets – park, city, and museum – at the same time..” This will be the fourth of the museum’s pavilions. Each of the other three are housed in separate buildings in the historic Parc des Champs-des-Bataille. The new pavilion faces the Grand Allée and is connected to the others via a subterranean passage that stretches for 430 feet (130 meters).
Describing the exterior, Shigematsu noted “The façade is a triple-glazed, for which we have used three panes of different glass. The first one is textured, the last one is fritted, and one is regular glass, which creates this kind of depth. This also creates a ghost of the structure as a pattern. This is a textured glass so it captures different lights. It changes from very crisp — almost like ice or metal — to a typical green glass that has some resonance with the church’s copper roof.”
Inside the museum, a tremendous, sculptural spiral staircase guides visitors through the stacked volumes and offers views of both the street and the park. Mezzanines connect temporary and permanent exhibition spaces, both of which are spacious and unencumbered by columns. The scheme also includes outdoor exhibition space on the roof, a gift shop, a café and an auditorium. The MNABQ is devoted to preserving and celebrating Québécois art. Its collection includes over 25,000 works, some of which date to the 18th century, the earliest period of European settlement in the area. The museum also holds international exhibitions.
Photo courtesy of Iwan Baan for OMA