Save the Pint!

Posted on September 30th, 2009 by .

You can’t define Montreal’s architecture, unlike Paris and its Haussmann buildings, or New York and its art deco skyscrapers. I don’t think there’s any other place in the world with such a strange mix of different forms of architecture from all eras – concrete structures from the 60s perfectly paired with Old Montreal buildings from centuries past, or sleek and modern creations made of steel and glass.  That’s probably what makes Montreal so unique. Read the full story to find out why you should help us preserve a giant milk pint located in downtown Montreal.
Some of the world’s most influential architects have left mark on the Montreal landscape with iconic buildings. From Mies van der Rohe and the Westmount Square (remember the one who did those Barcelona chairs?), to I.M. Pei and Place Ville-Marie (who later designed Le Louvre’s infamous Pyramid), to Richard Buckminster Fuller and the Biosphere (which was the American pavilion for Expo 1967). I think that’s what makes Montreal so unique; the patchwork of materials and styles isn’t always pretty, but somehow, it works. And we love the city precisely for that reason – because sometimes it doesn’t make much sense, just like us.

The best example I have in mind is Montreal’s giant pint of milk, located in downtown Montreal, a little apart from the skyscrapers and surrounding metro stations. To catch a glimpse of it, get off at Lucien-L’Allier or Bonaventure metro stations, and walk down Rue de la Gauchetière W., between Peel and Stanley – it’s located right next to the Windsor Station. You really can’t miss it! The Guaranteed Pure Milk bottle was originally built to hold water in the early 1900s by the Dominion Bridge company from Lachine. It’s a wonderful example of art deco and it’s a cute homage to Montreal’s milk industry, which was at least partially responsible for transforming the city important business hub in North America. It’s also one of the first signs of urban design, and it clearly brands the city as an alternative spot from the rest of the world. Unfortunately, we now have to fight to preserve it. When a building or monument isn’t properly taken care of, municipal authorities knock them down. That’s why I invite you to join the SAVE THE PINT group on Facebook, and help in preserving an essential part of Montreal’s past.

Preserving old buildings isn’t a new thing in Montreal. Heritage Montreal works actively to keep our history intact. The collective was founded by Phyllis Lambert, who also created the Canadian Centre for Architecture. Their efforts have led to the conservation of many monuments, such as the Windsor Station downtown and the Notre Dame fire-station-turned-library in St. Henri. The plan for the next year is to preserve 10 important and historic monuments from all eras – some that were made in the 60s and look like old Soviet Union bunkers (like the Planetarium), while others are churches or abandoned factories. It’s also thanks to Heritage Montreal that we’ve been able to keep the “Farine Five Roses” neon sign, a true Montreal icon that shines over the Old Port, reflecting our history and identity.

If you’re in town and you want to discover famous Montreal architectural icons, you should check out HERITAGE MONTREAL’s website. They have maps detailing all the buildings they’ve preserved and all those that still need a bit of love to look better. The site also allows you to create your own itinerary to explore the city’s hidden secrets.

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