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Experiencing My City
Vue intérieure de la bibliothèque Saul-Bellow de Lachine

Montréal : Unesco city of design

Published on
December 10, 2015
By creating places and objects that are harmonious and relevant at the same time, designers are shaping our daily life and influencing our well-being. The culture of design, far from being elitist and out of reach, improves the quality of life of all citizens.

Inventors of positive experiences

Montréal boasts strong creative design potential. Its pool of professionals and teaching and research institutions are internationally recognized. The City was the first in North America to name a design commissioner. A member of UNESCO’s Creative Cities Network, Montréal became a “UNESCO City of Design” in 2006, joining the ranks of Berlin and Nagoya. Since then, guiding and encouraging designers has been an integral part of its DNA.

Encouraging excellence

Architectural and design competitions, held as part of the RAC Program, help make informed choices, based on a comparison of several concrete proposals. These competitions follow a process that selects the project that best meets users’ needs. They encourage designers to excel, to go beyond the limits, to imagine innovative, efficient and sustainable places that perfectly embody the “third place” principle.


In addition to ensuring that the winning design is chosen through a transparent and open process, competitions encourage the public showing of design projects. This practice helps the public to understand how a major project evolves and to discover the wide variety of architectural solutions proposed by professionals.

As part of its mandate to promote and showcase Montréal talent, Ville de Montréal’s Bureau du Design puts forward initiatives that encourage meetings between designers and architects and various communities. These public activities contribute to raising awareness among citizens about the importance of quality design, a key condition to working together to create a unique city in our image.

Main stages of the process

Each competition is tailored to the type of project. Nevertheless, the major stages of the process are common to all selections.
1. A multidisciplinary team defines the broad guidelines of the project. This stage may be done in collaboration with citizens.
2. An outside professional adviser is named to draw up the competition documents (program and rules) and see that all the stages run smoothly. This individual assembles a jury made up of representatives of the disciplines needed for the project, the client and the users.
3. The competition is launched.
4. Four finalists are chosen from among all the entrants. An independent technical committee analyzes the feasibility of the proposals.
5. The finalists present their project to the jury and the public.
6. One winning proposal is retained.
7. A contract is awarded to the winner.

Attention to detail
In addition to automated return terminals, libraries also feature new self-serve checkout terminals. An in-depth study and needs assessment was carried out before the new terminals were designed by Montréal firm Morelli Designs.