Alain Lemay and Viateur Michaud got together in 1979 to found LEMAYMICHAUD Architecture Design, a firm that, to date, has served hundreds of clients across Canada and elsewhere in the world.
One of Quebec’s largest architecture and design firms, LEMAYMICHAUD has 63 employees in two offices situated in Quebec City and Montreal.
First Quebec City …
In 1989, LEMAYMICHAUD acquired an abandoned building, built in 1906 for the Bank of Montreal, in the Old Port of Quebec City. Twenty years later, in 2009, with a larger team and different needs, it was time to expand and update the premises.
“It was quite a challenge,” explains Lemay, “because we had to expand from the inside. So we transformed a single-storey building with a nine-metre-high ceiling by constructing a mezzanine and occupying an unused attic, which has become a perfect space for relaxation, meetings, and creativity. This venture enabled us to almost double our usable area.”
The LEMAYMICHAUD team thus created two superimposed work studios, one of which was in a floating mezzanine, in order to respect the nature of the building and let the entire team take advantage of the quality of the space. The mezzanine is detached from the lateral walls, allowing abundant natural light into both studios and letting the building’s architectural quality shine through.
… then Montreal
What the Montreal office has in common with the Quebec City one is that it is located in a historic building that no one wanted. Situated at 742 William, neighbouring the restaurant Le Local (which in fact occupies LEMAYMICHAUD’s former premises), the firm’s Montreal branch took shape in a warehouse.
“We left the charm of 740 William, with its inner courtyard and landscaping, for a windowless warehouse,” recalls Michaud, who manages the Montreal office. “And yet, I thought, What a space! And for us, space is the basic necessity.”
The challenge? To integrate a touch of modernity into an old building. The LEMAYMICHAUD architects therefore made sure to take advantage of the existing space and its constraints to transform it into a unique place.
By excavating part of the building down to the foundation (1.52 m underground) and constructing a part of the floor 90 cm above ground level, they were able to create interior parking without making an underpinning. In addition, they integrated bicycle stands, a shower, and a radiant heat system; they improved the insulation and opened the interior to natural light; they had a number of pieces of furniture made from material recovered from the site, and so on.
In short, “The result is simple because the space, interesting in itself, retained its character and its volumetry was highlighted,” concludes Michaud.
And so, the LEMAYMICHAUD offices resemble the company and its clients: simple and yet elegant, sophisticated but not arrogant. Human.
Visit the LEMAYMICHAUD website – here.
Photographer: Pierre Bélanger