With an innovative renovation using a surrounding transparent structural envelope, Lemay and Atelier 21’s solution of a glass encapsulation composed of 900 panels weighing a half a tonne each protects and preserves two of the original Grand Théâtre de Québec’s most prominent features: The brutalist architecture of Victor Prus and an integrated sculptural mural by artist Jordi Bonet.
A delicate response to a complex problem, the casing amplifies the building’s original morphology where it revolves at corners, lifts at the base and fades while leaving the building intact and perfectly visible. Appearing solid or immaterial depending on the light, the building’s striking brutalist lines and artistry are blurred together with its subtle, functional, and sustainable solution.
Before work began, moisture had caused the concrete panels’ steel anchors to disintegrate, leading to a crumbling exterior that required meticulous interventions. Alterations were then severely limited as architectural and technical solutions could not hinder building access, and the theatre had to stay open throughout the process; this meant that construction could only take place during specific windows of time and noise could not escape during shows or rehearsals. Weather conditions posed another major challenge as the new envelope’s installation was only possible under specific climatic conditions, with the glass needing to be attached to a steel structure that could not be exposed to any significant temperature variation from the moment of its adjustment to the glass’ installation.
Construction systems were almost completely custom-designed for the delicate steel structure on which the glass rests; the result of intensive teamwork among transdisciplinary teams to design a revolutionary structure and North American first, shielding the theatre from the elements with a secondary, tempered envelope housing a low-flow heat recovery and thermal mass system which doubles as an energy-efficient and economical design.
Design teamGabriel Tessier, Amélie Turgeon, Sarah Perron-Desrochers, Olivier Boilard, Paul Déry, Jean-François Doyon, André Dagenais, Mathieu Turgeon, Antoine Carrier, Jacques Berrigan, Marc Leblond, Élie Carrier, Pierre-Louis Chamberland, Nathalie Rocheford