This old house

UQAM has made indications that it is indeed contemplating what most observers anticipated: a reassessment of its space needs and a retreat from its recent real estate purchases. Le Devoir reports that several components of the Voyageur complex are under examination, including the portion of the residence halls that were to be UQAM’s component of the larger Cite universitaire project. Work on the La Patrie building has stalled halfway through and the Saint-Sulpice library building, gorgeous and little-visted when it was the BNQ’s main Montreal facility, has now been left entirely empty as UQAM acquired it for no particular purpose and has no money with which to renovate it.

Right around the corner, the city is having vaguely similar problems with the old central library building facing Parc Lafontaine — the collection and the entire idea of a central library got folded into the Grande bibliotheque project, without a clear vision for the future of the original structure. La Presse tells us that renovation of the library to house a clutch of municipal arts and culture agencies has proceeded slowly. Apparently the city went to the trouble to estimate the overall cost of the work, before defining exactly what work needed to be done. Maybe the best thing to do with news like this is to take it as a koan: meditate on the seeming paradox until you reach a higher understanding, then be sure to share it in the comments.

Incidentally, the childrens’ library (currently in the lower levels of the old central library building) is moving to de la Visitation, where it will be folded into a project to enlarge the Association sportive et communautaire de Centre-Sud. While it’s all well and good that the children of Centre-Sud get a new place to sit in beanbag chairs and look at pictures of dinosaurs, an administration supposedly panicking about the flow of families off-island would do well to consider locating kid-oriented facilities somewhere like Rosemont, instead of in a neighborhood where the new development is characterized by high-end one-bedroom condos. And you never see toddlers at Parking these days.

With big-money downtown cultural announcements being made, and Benoit Labonte’s name liberally applied to most of them, it’s almost as if he’s getting ready to run for something.

Finally the cavalcade of dance facility capital funding continues. Compagnie Marie Chouinard is moving into the Aegidius-Fauteux building, which was built as the Jewish Public Library in 1949 and that most recently housed the periodicals department of the Bibliotheque nationale.


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