The creation of Place Bonaventure involved much more than just the construction of a building. Above all, it is the story of people who, over several decades, devoted their energy to fulfilling a concept of monumental proportions.
In February 1963, Canadian National Railways sought proposals for the development of air rights above its downtown Montreal railway line.
The Concordia Estates Development Company took this opportunity to submit a major project involving the construction of a Canadian Trade Centre measuring two million square feet in area. It wanted to lease these spaces for the holding of conventions and exhibitions, as well as for the development of offices and a wholesale trade center.
At the same time, subway construction and preparations for the 1967 world’s fair were contributing to an explosion in the real estate sector in the downtown area. Montreal was about to experience an urban transformation of historic proportions. Everything was combining to ensure great success for the Place Bonaventure project!
The Place Bonaventure concept took on huge proportions as the plans evolved, with the final version determined in October 1965. Construction took slightly more than two years and ended in 1967. In its final form, the complex reached the staggering size of 3.1 million square feet, exceeding the Empire State Building and becoming the world’s largest building at the time.
Place Bonaventure is one of the most spectacular examples of brutalism, a trend that was popular among architects between 1950 and 1970, with a style that is easily identifiable for its angular geometric shapes and the use of concrete as the primary construction material. Various other buildings in Montreal were part of this trend, including the McLennan Library at McGill University, Habitat 67, Hôtel Le Germain and the Judith-Jasmin Pavilion at Université du Québec à Montreal.
Following a rocky start, Place Bonaventure became the place to be in the early 1970s. Its wholesale trade center housed mostly big-name fashion firms from across Canada as well as furniture and toy companies. A few years later, the Hotel Bonaventure achieved great success, with its hanging gardens and all-season open-air pool. The complex’s integrated concept met expectations and fulfilled the role intended for it ten years earlier.
With its highly successful transformation, Place Bonaventure is now the perfect place to establish a business.
A number of leading companies are now located there, and numerous exhibitions draw more than a million visitors per year. With nearly 50 years of history, Place Bonaventure continues to stand out as a multifunctional complex with a unique personality.