Rooftops – particularly those of convention centres – aren’t spaces often contemplated. Beyond providing cover from the rain and snow or offering an elevated view of the surrounding cityscape, they primarily exist unnoticed and out of view. The rooftop of the Palais de congrès de Montréal, however, is just as buzzing as the bustling conference halls below.
Since 2011, the Palais des congrès’ rooftop has steadily transformed into an urban oasis in the sky. Starting with that year’s installation of the Culti-VERT container farming system, the Palais de congrès began a place of growth for more than just the spread of new ideas and uptick of profit margins. Where else in the world can you hold an event while indulging in sour cherries, kale, gooseberries, or eggplants grown on the roof over your head? And once the working day is done, imagine a genuine local brew in your hand produced from the Palais’ rooftop crop of hops. That’s what’s in the works for later this year.
A busy beehive is a suitably apt comparison for an active conference hall like the Palais des congrès, so it’s perfectly fitting the Palais’ rooftop is itself home to three. Introduced in 2012, every year over 100,000 urbanized Italian bees tirelessly pollinate the surrounding rooftop plants and produce lip-smacking honey. Mind your beeswax – it might have come from upstairs.
But don’t think those behind the re-developing of the Palais de congrès’ rooftop just have their heads in the clouds. Besides is visually lush and mouthwatering results, the rooftop of the Palais des congrès is also an award-winning convention centre. Winner of a BOMA BEST award and an ASTM Level 1 certification, the Palais is a world-leader in the transformation of urban spaces.
IT’S A BIRD! IT’S A PLANE! NO, IT’S VERTical GARDEN!
Forever focusing upwards, the Palais de congrès’ newest rooftop project reaches even higher than before. Covering 6000 sq. ft. of the Palais’ roof, VERTical is North America’s first vertical farming project. By planting on scaffolds, the Palais’ farmers transform 1 sq. ft. of floor space into 3 sq. ft. of vertical growing space. When you add all these projects together, the Palais des congrès features 31,500 sq. ft. of repurposed rooftop. That’s a lot of new greenspace pulled from thin air.
The project’s branding as the Urban Agriculture Lab is a fitting one, and the Lab’s team is developing an altogether new and evolving definition of the modern convention centre. But above and beyond the accolades and technology development, the Palais des congrès rooftop also gives back to the local community unlike any other building. More than merely feeding the Palais’ guests, the annual harvests are also partly donated to the Maison du Père homeless shelter and there is a reintegration program planned for 2017 to have their residents participate in the maintenance of the rooftop installations. Besides giving a home to urban bee populations, the skyscraping Lab also improves the air quality of downtown Montréal.
And surely, that’s all something to buzz about.
Palais des congrès de Montréal
Rooms and venues: 113
Total size: 551,520 sq. ft. (51,280 m²)
Exhibitor possibilities: 1,950 booths
Rooftop initiatives: Culti-VERT container gardening, pollinating bee hives and honey production in collaboration with Miel Montréal, VERTical – North America’s first urban vertical scaffold farming project in collaboration with AU/Lab
Environmental certification: ASTM Level 1, BOMA BEST