If You’re Visiting Montreal, The Phi Centre Is An Absolute Must See.
If you’re visiting Montreal, you’ll definitely want to check out the Phi Centre. Located in Montreal’s Old Port at 407 Saint-Pierre Street, the Phi Centre is many things. It is a haven for contemporary arts and culture, with music, film, workshops, talks, a boutique. Recently, it has also become a free Virtual Reality Garden as of recently. Here’s some fun facts to know about.
AN EXTENSIVE HISTORY
For a modern, chic, and avant-garde art centre, the Phi Centre has a remarkably long and rich history. The original structure comprised two warehouses. One was built by John Ogilvy in 1861 to store stock like dry goods and the other built by John Pratt & Co, housed clothing and footwear. Both were used by fur traders until the buildings burned down in 1901. They were rebuilt by Silverman, Boulter & Company, who continued to use them for storing furs. The buildings continued as warehouses for furs, glassware, and household goods until 2002. In 2008, Phoebe Greenberg, heiress, artistic director, and cultural philanthropist, bought the buildings in order to create the arts centre.
A PLACE FOR TOMORROW’S ART
Originally from Ottawa, Greenberg, herself an actor and film producer, had established the Montreal DHC/ART Foundation for Contemporary Art in 2007. Her vision for the Phi Centre was for a thoroughly contemporary multidisciplinary arts space for the city. She wanted to place an emphasis on encouraging up-and-coming artists, innovative practice, and the use of the latest digital technologies.
Greenberg also wanted an environmentally friendly space. The architects Annie Lebel and Stéphane Pratte from in situ atelier díarchitecture devised a way to create a modular, versatile, energy efficient design. This would allow for multipurpose uses, while preserving the external heritage structures and accommodating the internal wood and cast iron columns.
The building’s eco-credentials include a green roof and terrace, with highly-reflective white material to reflect away heat in the summer. During winter, it is capable of increasing insulation, thanks to the efficient energy-exchange heating and cooling systems. The re-use of as much of the historic materials as possible won the project an award from L’Ordre des architectes du Québec (OAQ). Greenberg herself was often wearing a hard hat during the reconstruction, and the centre opened in 2012.
WHERE IMAGINATION BECOME REALITY
Carefully designed for excellent acoustics, the space offers many interconnected areas, over four floors. This allows to house all sorts of different events and installations. There are state-of-the art recording studios and HD webcasting studios, all fully digitally interconnected, to allow artists to create technologically innovative works throughout the space.
The centre has also produced an award-winning short film, Next Floor, by Denis Villeneuve. It also hosts performances by artist as diverse as Inuit throat singer Tanya Tagaq and Montreal rock band Arcade Fire.
The unique and free Virtual Reality Garden offers completely innovative and immersive experiences, showcasing local and international artists. From National Film Board documentaries to entertainment by video game developer Ubisoft, you are sure to go through mind-bending adventures and new worlds to explore.
We hope this piece has given you some interesting insights on what to explore during your stay In Montreal!