VIDE ET VERTIGE
Until June 18th
Postal Station F, built in 1913, was conceived by architect David Jerome Spence. Located at 1700 Rue Notre-Dame Ouest, the building was fully restored a century later, thanks to private financing from Isabelle de Mévius and the singular vision of the late Luc Laporte. This major undertaking was the architect’s last project.
1700 La Poste is a private space dedicated to the visual arts and their discourses, presenting events in the form of exhibitions and lectures.
Architect Luc Laporte’s entire process reflected a distinctly conceptual approach, with ideas finding their full expression through close consideration of a project’s main themes. On the one hand, it drew on familiarity with the typology and morphology of both the city and the specific structure in question, as well as a special sensitivity for Montréal’s urban culture.
On the other, it involved a more intuitive approach in which the act of building, in its poetic dimension, is the sole carrier of the essence of architecture, becoming part of the design process. Laporte’s projects all convey a rare timelessness and artisanal quality, midway between contemporary and traditional. Luc Laporte died in Montréal on March 15, 2012.
Unlike the “white box” style of gallery, a commonplace in the contemporary art world that aims for a neutral or invisible architectural framework, Laporte’s design for 1700 La Poste leverages the building’s neo-classical and Beaux Arts forms, conceived by D. J. Spence. Drawing inspiration from the existing layout, volumes, and language of the heritage building, Laporte retained volumetric properties, furnishings, and surface treatments reminiscent of its original vocation. Functional rooms are arranged around a central hall that opens directly, without corridors, onto the adjacent spaces. While maintaining a part of the mezzanine, Laporte opened up the main volume to re-establish its presence and increase the flow of light throughout the building.
The transformation of the structure that is now home to 1700 La Poste is exemplary for its contribution to conserving and revitalizing quality spaces in the city. The building is a witness to the history of Little Burgundy, to which new elements can continue to graft themselves for the future benefit of the neighbourhood. An important part of Montréal’s built heritage, 1700 La Poste is now also associated with the name of architect Luc Laporte.
Postal Station F was designed by David Jerome Spence. A Canadian of American origin, Spence was born in Louisville, Kentucky, in 1873. Upon graduating from MIT in 1896, he tavelled briefly to Paris, where he visited a number of studios. Upon returning to the US, he worked for the Boston firms Chapman & Frazer and Ball & Dabney. He settled in Montréal in about 1901, and went on to found the firm Finley & Spence Architects. When he and his associate parted ways in 1912, the firm already had a number of new buildings to its name, including the Guardian Assurance Building (1902), McGill University’s Strathcona Hall (1905), and the Belgo Building on rue Sainte-Catherine. (1912). Awarded a medal of merit by the Royal Architectural Institute of Canada (RAIC) in 1952, David Jerome Spence died in Montréal in 1955.
The architect Luc Laporte favoured “noble” design elements whose material integrity has stood the test of time: stone, steel, wood, plaster, brush painting. 1700 La Porte is no exception. Concentrated in an area under the mezzanine, within the original hall, a cluster of functional rooms (reception, coat room, mini-bar) is clad in the same wood to allow a unified reading of the space.
The design of 1700 La Poste and its construction were well underway at the time of Luc Laporte’s death in 2012. Project completion was overseen by his collaborators, Louise Koo, Martin Bégin, and Martin Vincent, to whom the architect entrusted his architecture studio at 264 Carré Saint-Louis.
1700, rue Notre-Dame Ouest
Montréal (Qc) H3J 1M3
Wednesday and Thursday: 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Friday: 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Saturday and Sunday: 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.
To stay informed of our events:
For group visits, please contact us at (438) 384-1700 or via firstname.lastname@example.org.
Please be advised that 1700 La Poste is not available for rent.