The Pierre Lassonde Pavilion designed by OMA at the Musée national des beaux-arts du Québec's fourth building in an increasingly complicated site, interconnected yet disparate—is a subtly ambitious, even stealthy, addition to the city.
Having lived a few years in Quebec City, photographer Félix Michaud takes a unique look at the architecture of OMA’s museum pavilion in a new winter series of photos. The Musée des Beaux-Arts du Québec (MNBAQ) most recent addition shows many signature elements. A monumental staircase as well as a large glazed hall under cantilever, to mention only these. But, rather than focusing on its grandiose aspects, this series present an intimate approach to the building, highlighting its quality of natural light and the spirit of peace that reigns there.
OMA's approach rather than creating an iconic imposition, forms new links between the park and the city, and brings new coherence to the MNBAQ. The building aims to weave together the city, the park and the museum as an extension of all three simultaneously.
While they step down in section, the gallery boxes step out in plan, framing the existing courtyard of the church cloister and orienting the building towards the park. The park spills into the museum (through skylights and carefully curated windows) and the museum into the park (through the extension of exhibitions to the terraces and the outdoor pop-out staircase).
The stacking creates a 14m-high Grand Hall, sheltered under a dramatic 20m cantilever. The Grand Hall serves as an interface to the Grande Allée, an urban plaza for the museum's public functions, and a series of gateways into the galleries, courtyard and auditorium.
The cantilevered structure is supported by a hybrid steel truss system and accommodates galleries uninterrupted by columns. The layered façade is simultaneously structural, thermal and solar, addressing the seemingly contradictory needs of natural light and thermal insulation for Québec’s harsh winter climate. The triple layered glass façade is composed of a 2D printed frit that pattern mimics the truss structure, a 3D embossed glass, and a layer of diffuser glass.
Complementing the quiet reflection of the gallery spaces, a chain of programs along the museum’s edge—foyers, lounges, shops, bridges, gardens—offer a hybrid of activities, art and public promenades. Along the way, orchestrated views from a monumental spiral stair and an exterior pop out stair reconnect the visitor with the park, the city, and the rest of the museum. Within the boxes, mezzanines and overlooks link the temporary and permanent exhibition spaces. On top of each of the gallery boxes, roof terraces provide space for outdoor displays and activities.