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May 23, 2002 New downtown complex welcomed with enthusiasm



Maquette of Le Quartier Concordia

(Click to enlarge)
An aerial view of Le Quartier Concordia looking

Courtesy of Kuwabara Payne Mckenna Blumberg Architects
Fichten Soiferman Architectes

(Click to enlarge)

Groundbreaking of Le Quartier Concordia: Digging in for Le Quartier Concordia are, left to right, Mayor Gérald Tremblay, Quebec cabinet minister André Boisclair, Board chair Lillian Vineberg (with city councillors Robert Libman and Frank Zampino behind), Treasury Board President Lucienne Robillard, Chancellor Eric Molson, Rector Frederick Lowy and Board of Governors real estate committee chair Jonathan Wener.

by Barbara Black

The mood was much, much warmer than the weather as politicians from three levels of government congratulated Concordia on its future Integrated Engineering, Computer Science and Visual Arts Complex. They were taking part in a groundbreaking ceremony, held mid-morning on May 13 in a tent erected on the site, a now-empty lot on Ste. Catherine St. between Guy and Mackay Sts.

As he has on many occasions now, Rector Frederick Lowy emphasized the importance of the new building, part of a $300-million construction project that will consolidate Concordia’s activities in 10 buildings, as opposed to the current 70, including much-needed recreation space.

It also gives tangible proof of a massive academic renewal that includes several hundred new faculty members, a push for more research activity, and increased enrolment.

For Mayor Gérald Tremblay, the new building is a welcome newcomer to the city core. He hailed the construction, which will likely begin this summer, as a source of new jobs and a source of cultural dynamism. “Our biggest competitive advantage is human capital,” Tremblay said, and Concordia’s contribution to a multilingual, technologically adept work force will help make Montreal an outstanding city of North America.

André Boisclair, the Quebec minister responsible for Montreal, reminded his audience that the Quebec government has contributed nearly $100 million (more precisely, $97 million) to the construction project, “an expression of confidence” in the university.

Like the mayor, Boisclair saw it as an element of Montreal’s drive for economic and social success, and a synthesis of technology and culture.

“We mean business about building a modern city where everyone feels comfortable to live and create,” he said. “We mean business about opening a window on the world.”

Lucienne Robillard, head of the federal Treasury Board and MP for Westmount-Ville Marie, was warm in her congratulations, as was David Strangway, president of the Canada Foundation for Innovation. The CFI was one of the earliest donors to the integrated complex and both speakers said that it embodies the goal of the Foundation to promote science and scholarship across Canada.

After the speeches, all the dignitaries set to with shovels for the photographer.