Claude Cormier, the best-known Quebec landscape architect, died on September 15 in Montreal, after leaving his mark across the country. He was 63 years old.
He designed some of the most emblematic public developments in the metropolis, from the pink balls of the Village to the new Dorchester square and the beach on Quai de l’Horloge.
Its latest Montreal project, the giant ring of the Place Ville Marie esplanade, was inaugurated last year. A “love letter” to Montreal which also turned out to be a farewell letter.
“Claude Cormier was the creative force behind some of the most beloved, joyful and admired public spaces in Canada,” said the press release announcing his death.
Mr. Cormier died from multiple cancers. He suffered from Li-Fraumeni syndrome, a rare genetic predisposition to develop this disease.
Sophie Beaudoin is co-president of CCxA, the firm created by Claude Cormier and which bore his name until recently.
“The Cormier style is that there is love, humor, beauty and generosity in everything we do,” explained Ms. Beaudoin in a telephone interview. Very strong ideas brought up from the start and which remain until the end, without being watered down. »
His work presented “just the right level of subversion,” argues Philippe Lupien, professor of architecture at UQAM and administrator of the Association of Landscape Architects of Quebec (AAPQ). “It’s the fine line: you have to shake up the conventions just enough for the project to get done, otherwise they remain fictitious projects,” he continued.
A landscape architect himself, Mr. Lupien had known Claude Cormier “for a very, very long time.” “I’ve seen his practice evolve over the years,” he said.
“When we see Claude’s projects, it speaks to people’s intelligence. We have the impression of embarking on a discussion, we have the impression that he has repartee in relation to the context,” said Mr. Lupien. “There is a complexity to its landscape that is very rare. »
Mr. Cormier launched his Montreal firm in 1993, after a stint at the University of Toronto and a doctorate at Harvard University. A total change of scenery for the young man born on a farm in Centre-du-Québec.
He notably cited Frederick Law Olmsted, father of Mount Royal Park, as a major influence.
In the Quebec metropolis, he began his career by designing Place d’Youville, in Old Montreal, before multiplying his projects.
The pink balls of the Village remain a flagship project for the landscape architect. “It had significant social impacts. Economic impacts, with the revitalization of Sainte-Catherine Street in the East,” indicated Sophie Beaudoin. “It was the right project at the right time,” added Philippe Lupien.
The giant ring, for its part, “was a very, very, very special project that was particularly close to his heart,” underlined Ms. Beaudoin. “It was truly his love letter to Montreal. He always presented it like that. »
In addition to his Montreal projects, Claude Cormier has also designed multiple projects in Toronto and elsewhere in North America. His projects for urban beaches on the shores of Lake Ontario, in the Ontario capital, particularly excited him, said Ms. Beaudoin.