International Excursion

Celebrating Claude Cormier in Marvelous Montreal

Montreal, QC

On June 27-28, 2024, Claude Cormier (1960-2023) and his built legacy in Montreal will be the subject of several events, including the premiere showing of the new video oral history at the Canadian Center of Architecture that examines Cormier’s life and career, followed by a daylong excursion to six extraordinary landscapes.

Claude Cormier’s impact on the profession of landscape architecture and the built environment is undeniably substantial. Cormier was independent, audacious, visionary, an artist, outrageous, declarative, principled, mischievous, inventive, gay, entertaining, and persistent, among his many qualities and attributes. As his firm’s website notes: “A great lover of the city, of culture, and of art, Claude truly blazed a new trail in landscape architecture with poetic, inspiring, and uplifting work that challenged the modernist orthodoxy of public space, all the while remaining practical and appreciated in a popular context. He invited people to laugh, to come together, to see things differently.”

A month before Cormier passed away on September 15, 2023, at age 63, Charles A. Birnbaum, President and CEO of The Cultural Landscape Foundation (TCLF), spent several days interviewing him at his home and office in Montreal. On a subsequent trip, videographer Barrett Doherty (who videotaped the Montreal interview) recorded important projects in Toronto. The results are featured in a riveting, entertaining, and revelatory new video oral history about Cormier’s life, design philosophy, and significant built works.

On Thursday, June 27 at the Canadian Center for Architecture, TCLF will premiere excerpts from the full oral history. Attendees for the excursion will also be afforded admission to the premiere.

CCxA Partners (left to right) Yannick Roberge, Marc Hallé, Sophie Beaudoin, Claude Cormier, and Guillaume Paradis - Photo @ Benoit Rousseau, courtesy CCxA

On Friday, June 28, there will be a daylong excursion to several Cormier-designed projects in Montreal led by the firm’s four principals – Sophie Beaudoin, Marc Hallé, Guillaume Paradis, and Yannick Roberge – along with a private lunch. This commemorative event is extremely limited.

The event begins at the offices of CCxA (Claude Cormier and Associates), the crucible for the firm’s design team.  Morning coffee and pastries will be provided as part of the office visit.

Clock Tower Beach, Montréal, Canada - Photo © Adrien Williams, courtesy CCxA

This will be followed by a visit to Clock Tower Beach, located in the city’s Old Port neighborhood, which is 3.2-acre waterfront park that extends into the St. Lawrence River. Beneath the Beaux-Arts clocktower (1922), designed by engineer Paul Leclaire, and along one length are sandy beaches with vibrant blue umbrellas and views to the Old City.

Of particular note is Place d’Youville, Cormier’s first competition-winning project in the city, which features a tree-filled linear plaza in the Old Port, crisscrossed by paths connecting the doorways of adjoining buildings.

The linear Parc Hydro, in Montreal’s Quartier des Spectacles, is nestled between two buildings. Its cleverly designed walkway is essentially one large tree grate that protects the underlying soil from compaction and allows for rainwater infiltration.  The plant palette includes Honey locust trees, native perennials and ground covers, and there are star-shaped benches, the park’s only impervious surfaces.

When it comes to audacious, the “Lipstick Forest” in Montreal’s Palais des congrès, is at the top of the list. The indoor “park” features 52 concrete “trees” painted lipstick-pink to celebrate the city’s flourishing cosmetic industry. The trees are patterned after the hundred-year-old maples that line the avenues in the old city. As Cormier would say, they’re artificial, but they’re not fake.

The Ring, Montréal, Canada - Photo by Charles A. Birnbaum, 2023

The Ring is an artistic gesture of stunning efficiency.  Cormier designed a 98-foot-diameter, 25-ton, stainless steel ring that is suspended between two modernist office buildings in Place Ville Marie (designed by Henry Cobb working with I. M. Pei). It hovers over PVM’s eastern entrance and frames a distant view to Mount Royal Park, which was designed by Frederick Law Olmsted, Sr.

Square Dorchester, Montréal, Canada - Photo © JF Savaria, courtesy CCxA

The final stop is nearby Dorchester Square, which incorporates mannered riffs on Victorian elements and Venetian bridges, including an ornate multi-tiered fountain sliced in half vertically (the flat end truncated to make way for a bus route). Don’t miss the woodpecker on the back side.

TCLF is grateful to the Canadian Center for Architecture for hosting the screening of the Pioneers oral history with Claude Cormier and to the four CCxA firm principals for helping to organize and execute this daylong excursion.

 4.0 LA CES™ professional development hours will be available to attendees.


Refund Policy

Cancellations and Refunds will be granted according to the following schedule:

Up to two (2) weeks in advance: 50% (Deduction represents administrative processing fees)

No refunds will be made for cancellations thirteen (13) days prior to event

No refunds will be made for “No Shows” (a person who registers for a program but who does not cancel registration or attend the program).

Refunds will be processed as they are received or after the conclusion of the program, depending on the program date and when cancellation occurs. Refunds may take five (5) to seven (7) business days to process.