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The Palais des congrès de Montréal: The art of form and function

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When looking for the ideal meeting venue, you probably think of all the practical aspects first, such as flexible room capacity, outstanding catering services, state-of-the-art technology and convenient location. But what if you could add innovative architecture and breathtaking design to the order? Montréal’s convention centre, the Palais des congrès, covers all these bases in spades.

Built in 1983 and then revamped from 1999-2003, the Palais des congrès de Montréal is now an art icon in Montréal and around the world. In fact, it was even included in the architectural guide, 1001 Buildings You Must See Before You Die. This means you can come here for business, and still scratch this masterpiece off your bucket list. (This will definitely score you major brownie points with any artsy types in your group!)

What kind of art is displayed at the Palais des congrès?

From beautiful to bizarre, Montréal’s convention centre is permeated with art. There’s useful art, such as the sundial whose 336 fibre optic cables change colour in response to the sun’s angle. There’s airborne art, like the 38-foot suspended installation whose 7,000 twinkling silver rods illuminate the space like a “sun cloud.” And of course there are numerous wall-mounted installations—including an entire series designed in 1983 that now adds a fabulous retro twist to the décor.

But a few installations merit a closer look. Check them out:

A striking multicolour glass façade

As you approach the building, you immediately notice the massive kaleidoscope wall made up of 332 coloured glass panels and 58 clear glass panels. The creation is called TransLucide, and its multi-colour panes represent the purpose of the convention centre as a place where different points of view converge. No trip to Montréal is complete without a snapshot in front of this iconic installation (don’t forget to pack your selfie-stick!).
Palais_des_congres Wikimedia Commons

A fiery Riopelle sculpture

Located in the square adjacent to the convention centre, La Joute is a bronze sculpture and fountain created by the world-renowned Québec artist Jean-Paul Riopelle (the square also happens to be named after him). In summer, the sculpture comes alive in a dramatic 32-minute show that includes water jets, mist, moving mechanical parts and, to keep things interesting, a ring of fire.  A full explanation of the fountain cycle is available here. For business travellers, it’s an easily accessible chance to view performance art while popping out for some fresh air.

The Lipstick Forest

This is where things get really crazy. The Lipstick Forest , designed by Claude Cormier, is made up of 52 hot pink gleaming “trees” that tower high overhead and could easily be mistaken for oversized blood vessels (if you’re hosting a cardiologists’ convention) or, as the name implies, sassy sticks of lipcolour (if you’re organizing a beauty tradeshow). No matter how you perceive this larger-than-life art installation, it’s the perfect backdrop for your team photo.

A modern twist on beauty

What is beauty without brains? Montréal’s Palais des congrès is much more than just a pretty face. The building is also BOMA BESt 3-certified, fully accessible and connected to a subway station. Architecture buffs will not want to miss the captivating views of historic Old Montréal and the port from the convention centre’s green roof.

Since it opened in 1983, the Palais des congrès de Montréal has built a reputation for excellence spanning the globe, welcoming more than 6,200 events and 16 million visitors.

Cheat Sheet

Venue: Palais des congrès de Montréal
Toll-free number: 1-800-268-8122

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