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Reconstruction of the Place des Nations | The architects finally found



The Société du parc Jean-Drapeau has finally found the architects and engineers who will work on the rehabilitation of Place des Nations, on Île Sainte-Hélène, but will have to break the bank to pay them.

After a delay of 10 years and three canceled calls for tenders, the fourth attempt to find the professionals who will prepare the work finally worked, earlier this winter.

Place des Nations was the ceremonial heart of Expo 67, where foreign dignitaries were received with great fanfare. The places, visible from the Concorde bridge, are now in ruins. The project consists of an identical reconstruction.


The Place des Nations in 1967

The Marchand Architecture & Design Group won the contract, with a proposal of 11.6 million (including the budget for contingencies). Four Montreal architects entrusted The Press their surprise at this result, this firm being more accustomed to residential and commercial projects than to heritage rehabilitation.

The Société du parc Jean-Drapeau does not believe that the repeated cancellation of calls for tenders could have discouraged part of the market.

“We still had seven bids that were submitted for the fourth call for tenders,” said Bertrand Houriez, director of project management at the Société du parc Jean-Drapeau. “It still worked well. »

As for Groupe Marchand Architecture & Design’s experience, Mr. Houriez insisted on giving the runner a chance: “We are at the start of the project. We still have a lot of work to do. Before judging someone or a firm, I think it’s important to see what we can do together. He pointed out that the firm was chosen through a transparent selection process.

“A saturation effect”

The Société du parc Jean-Drapeau will pay considerably more than expected for this contract: rather than 11.6 million, it expected to have to pay only 8.4 million.

“A market saturation effect is felt and is reflected in the bid price”, justified the municipal officials in a document intended for elected officials. “The period of inflation and the unpredictability of the markets that we are currently experiencing affect [aussi] the difference between the estimate and the bid. »

The contract award was approved by Valérie Plante’s executive committee last month.

The Place des Nations rehabilitation project was first announced in 2013. It was to be completed in time for the 375e Montreal’s anniversary, four years later, but was abandoned along the way. The current project was born from the ashes of the last in 2020.

The overall budget voted for this rehabilitation project has been set at nearly 75 million in 2021.

“We are worried about the future of the major renovation project at Place des Nations,” commented the Leader of the Opposition at City Hall, Aref Salem. The Plante administration went through four calls for tenders before being able to go ahead with a firm that would not even be specialized in the work of heritage buildings. »

He added, “Even more worrying is that the Plante administration has yet to receive confirmation from higher levels of government to fund a significant portion of the project as announced in 2021.”

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