The tram will change the city

The order was both simple and ambitious: redesign the city center around the future underground stations of the Quebec tram. Make the paths leading to it pleasant, “generate urbanity” and imagine new public spaces.
The e GianPiero Professor Moretti gave carte blanche to the students twenty mastery class in architecture and urban design. Don’t let technical issues take over your imagination, he asked them.

Shortly before Christmas, I attended the presentation of the session work of these teams of students from Laval University, on the premises of the School of Architecture at the Petit Séminaire. I always feel a kind of feverishness when I go to meet city dreamers.

I found there a lot of illustrations in tune with the times and therefore a little predictable, but also several strong and unexpected ideas that deserve that the public authorities look at their feasibility. The Quebec City architect present in the room that morning probably took notes.

I have retained five of these ideas.

1- Saint-Jean-Baptiste church

An entrance to the Grand Théâtre station could be built in front of the square in front of the Saint-Jean-Baptiste church, rue Saint-Jean. Rue de Claire-Fontaine would be reserved for pedestrians between rue Saint-Jean and rue Lockwell.
The tram will run under René-Lévesque boulevard, but an entrance to the Grand Théâtre station could be arranged at rue Saint-Jean, in front of the Saint-Jean-Baptiste church.

The church square would then become a real pedestrian crossroads between the lower town and the upper town. In this scenario, the team of Victoria Deslandes-Lyon, Carolane Jolin, Alexandra Isabelle and Juliette Paget proposes that the coast of rue de Claire-Fontaine become entirely pedestrian between rue Saint-Jean and rue Lockwell.

The forecourt of the church would be widened on the north side and we would come to pose there the statue of Saint-Jean-Baptiste and its base which are currently at the level of rue D’Aiguillon.

New premises for the needs of the school or the neighborhood would thus be created under the forecourt and along the church in front of rue D’Aiguillon.

2- Place D’Youville

The passage of the tram at Place D’Youville is a great opportunity to redevelop the space. Students propose to modify the access to the underground parking to make it less visible from the square.

They suggest extending the forecourt of the Palais Montcalm to the west and covering it with greenery by sketching a new tiered link to Parliament Hill and the Parliament. A bus stop for route 807 would be kept in the northern part of the square.

3- The avenue des Érables exit

The tram tunnel will emerge from the ground at avenue des Érables. Students propose to cover the hopper (slope) which will be a hundred meters by a wood-sculpture structure.

Rather than “denying” the hopper and trying to make it forget, the idea is to enhance it by an elevated public space in the middle of the median with vegetation or community garden, explains Louis Murray-Leclerc.

The space between the support beams would provide a certain visual “permeability” between the sidewalks north and south of boulevard René-Lévesque.

4- Cartier Avenue

Mr. Murray-Leclerc’s team proposes to do away with the service station at the corner of avenue Cartier and boulevard René-Lévesque to replace it with a new public building.

A small branch of the municipal library for example, with a large skylight, a public square in front and access to the underground tram station.

These students also propose to make Cartier Street entirely pedestrian between Fraser and Crémazie streets.

5- Crown Street

The tram will enter underground at the level of the Jean-Paul L’Allier Garden in Saint-Roch. The team of Victoria Deslandes-Lyon, Carolane Jolin, Alexandra Isabelle and Juliette Paget proposes to cover the entrance to the green tunnel which would have the effect of enlarging the garden.

A glass walkway would be launched over the coast of Abraham at the southern end of the garden and would provide a new link to Saint-Jean-Baptiste and the upper town.

The proposal also aims to make Rue de la Couronne entirely pedestrian between the Côte d’Abraham and Boulevard Charest.

This would involve concentrating through car traffic on Dorchester Street. We would find the tracks south and north in the extension of the Laurentian highway which will eventually become an urban boulevard at its entrance into Saint-Roch.

More rigorous analyzes and studies are needed to judge the feasibility, the real urban interest, the impacts on traffic and the costs associated with these proposals from young people who are preparing to design the cities of tomorrow.

We notice through these apparently slightly disparate proposals the powerful common thread of an improvement in public spaces and pedestrian connections around the stations of the future tramway.

These suggestions and those that will be added in the months and years to come on other portions of the tram and trambus will help to beautify the city and improve its quality of life.

They will also help to change the way we look at the city. Who knows, maybe to change the perception of those who see it as a place of transit between home and work, rather than a living environment.

Beyond the public transport offer which we have talked about a lot and which we will talk about again, the tram is a way to see the city again. This cannot be measured by figures or statistics, but it is one of the most stimulating effects of this project.

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