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Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Rio Tinto Alcan Planetarium, Montreal, Canada

Saucier + Perrotte's finalist design for Rio Tinto Alcan Planetarium competition
The concept of a planetarium offers architects some leeway for otherworldly design, setting them on an acceptable creative freeway. Obscure forms are somehow appropriate. The design by Saucier + Perrotte Architects, chosen as a finalist in the competition for the Rio Tinto Alcan Planetarium in Montreal, is no exception to this rule. But rather than opting for the traditional orb-like shape, it prefers an angular integrated form.

While the design did not win the competition, the winners were Cardin, Ramirez & Associates, the design is worthy of mention for its unique approach to the design. Sheathing the Star Theatre dome, necessary to create accurate sky projections, in a tank-like shell, the building tapers into the landscape at its tail end creating a public plaza and a variety of spaces within the structure. Using aluminium wherever possible, the building remains thematic throughout.

To be situated in the touristic and scientific setting of de Maisonneuve, the winning design will join the Biodôme and the Olympic Stadium creating a synergy of entertainment locale.

The Planetarium will house two theatres as well as laboratories, exhibition and activity rooms, three group eating areas and a restaurant and will be able to handle 800 visitors at a time. The building itself will meet LEED environmental criteria.

The winning design, not yet released for publication, will complete planning approval with the Montreal authorities before construction is set to commence next year. An official opening is scheduled for March 2012.
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