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L'Orée du Parc

Posted by Laura / July 18, 2007

I experienced urban cognitive dissonance the other day. I had happily ridden north on the Brebeuf bike path, through Laurier Park, and ended up turning right on Saint Gregoire, the street that bounds the park on the north side. The area has always looked industrial to me, with those big round towers rising up, the beer warehouse, the underpass. Saint Gregoire widened, the sidewalks were bare and white, and the curbs grew inexplicably tall. On my right, I was in the Plateau. On my left, I was in the suburbs.


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Save Ben's!

Posted by Laura / June 14, 2007


The legendary Montreal diner, Ben's, is in the news again. After closing forever in December after a long labor strike, It's on the brink of being sold to a developer who has declared that the building isn't worth anything. Demolition seems imminent.

A protest organized by Pop Montreal and Art Deco Montreal took place at noon today. People walking by stopped for a while to listen to the accordion, violin, and guitar music, and the voices of the speakers: art deco enthusiasts, a former worker's leader, the filmmaker who made the Ben's documentary. ??Well, they're tearing down my building,? said an older woman, half to herself, half to the crowd around her. ??Are you the owner?? asked a bystander, interested. ??No, I just worked there for 13 years,? she replied.

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Arts, City

Urgency! Starchitects Hit Montreal

Posted by Laura / June 9, 2007


If you didn't just hear strains of "Everybody Hurts," you may be seeing in your minds eye the extraordinary buildings of Dutch architect Rem Koolhaas. Think the majestic CCTV building in Beijing, or the angular Seattle Public Library, or perhaps some crazy buildings in Dubai and the United Arab Emirates.

His name isn't as cool, but you may know New York architect Peter Eisenman from his highly politicized Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe in Berlin.

On Friday, they hit the stage together at the CCA to discuss topics in architecture that they considered Urgent. I arrived early to get a good seat and sat patiently as every architect in Montreal showed up, embraces and double-kisses all around. Finally, the director of the CCA introduced the tall, severe looking guy in the front row as Rem himself. The audience held its breath as the black-clad starchitect took the podium without a smile and clicked to a picture of the Parthenon.

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Pas de Colporteurs!

Posted by Laura / June 7, 2007

Tonight, right now, as I write this very entry, 46 artists are using Avenue Mont Royal as a canvas, a "tableau noir." By tomorrow morning, eight blocks of the Avenue between Saint Hubert and De Lannaudiere will be filled with artistic meditations on the theme, "Pas de Colporteurs!" No Door-to-Door Salespeople!* Is this an ironic nod to the sponsors, the Mont Royal development society, which is made up of businesspeople and salespeople? Or a ruse to get lots of paintings featuring film-noir-like salesmen knocking on doors and looking mysterious in the glow of the streetlights?

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TGIFriday News

Posted by Laura / June 1, 2007

Saint Laurent Construction Watch: Rolling hills of gravel, Saint Laurent at Prince Arthur, May 2007

It's settled: we won't have to go through another provincial election. The PQ will be voting against the budget, but won't be sending enough of its members to topple the Liberal government.

Women flowed to Le Stud, the Village bar that recently refused service to a woman, for a protest beer yesterday and were served "without protest or delay."

A 23 year old Montrealer has been arrested for an anti-French video that he posted on YouTube. "From what he was saying on the video, he was having a problem getting a job because he was not speaking French," said Montreal police spokesman Olivier Lapointe.

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SLCW, Grey Nuns Edition

Posted by Laura / May 30, 2007

Pouring concrete, Napoleon at Saint Laurent, May 2007

Could a college dorm be any different from a nunnery? They'll be one and the same next year for 200 Concordia students, following the university's purchase of the Maison Mère des Soeurs Grises. The nunnery lies between Guy, Saint Catherine, Saint Mathieu, and Rene Levesque. The western portion of the property will be re-fashioned into a dorm, while the other portions remain the same, continuing to house nuns and sisterly activities until 2011. At that point, Concordia will assume full responsibility of the chapel, which is historically significant and classified as protected. The stages of acquisition are laid out in the first linked article.

The prospect of secular university students sharing living space with nuns seems fraught with challenges, as will be the delicate process of integrating university uses into a chapel space where 276 people are entombed. In the words of Clarence Epstein, Director of Special Projects at Concordia, they will have ??to take an inward-looking religious complex and integrate it into Concordia??s outward-looking vision, all the while preserving its character." Surely there will be people sad to see the nuns go. Creative though this reuse of space may be, it also represents another "outward" step into the neighborhood for Concordia, and a de-diversification of the population and uses therein.

If you want to apply to live in the Grey Nun's Residence, click here, and make sure not to lie about your smoking habits or neatness!
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