In the middle of Saint-Laurent Boulevard, behind a period brick facade, hides a pretty urban garden. At the bottom of this garden, you can see an imposing glass facade whose transparency reveals three large floors. Without forgetting the waterfall, which gently guides us towards the entrance… This astonishing proposal does not come from a museum or an art gallery, but from a sofa store in the heart of the city. ! We toured the owner of this Montreal business, which has won many awards for its architecture.
We join Tim Zyto, Danny Chartier and Daniel Cohlmeyer at the flagship store on Saint-Laurent Boulevard in Montreal. While the first two are the co-founders of Montauk Sofa, the third is the architect whose firm carried out the (extensive) renovations to the building. Today, a few years after the opening, they can finally contemplate the result of this long hard work.
The showroom is spread over three floors, plus a basement. The polished concrete floors create the perfect setting for the armchairs and accessories on display. The vast and bright space leaves plenty of room for objects, and that’s what we wanted.
The work was spread over several years, remember the owners. It must be said that they had their work cut out for them when they acquired this building, which dates from the early 1900s. Or rather should we say these buildings, since there were three of them. Originally, there was even an alley there that meandered between Saint-Laurent Boulevard and Saint-Dominique Street, which has now disappeared. It was therefore no small task to consolidate everything, as well as to obtain the necessary permits to carry out their audacious proposal.
The key idea of the project is undoubtedly to have destroyed part of the original building in order to create a garden in front. For heritage reasons, we had to keep the street facade of the original building, topped with paned window bands. From the street, we can therefore mainly see this brick wall and the garden that is emerging behind it.
The owners were not afraid to gut the building to create this public space. And the game was well worth the effort, because the place is like a little gem in the middle of the urban fabric, created in concert with landscape architect Myke Hodgins of the firm HETA.
To compensate for the lost space in the front, they dug and landscaped the basement. This turned out to be a colossal task, especially since the soil was very clayey, making excavation difficult. They had to redo the foundations, which cost them space on each side of the walls. Never mind, they decided that it would be an integral part of the design: objects are now displayed on these concrete structures!
“The square feet that we lost by destroying the first part of the building, we wanted to recover them in the basement. That’s why we wanted natural light in the back and in the front,” says Tim Zyto. Indeed, the entire building stands out for its transparency, including the basement. Light enters from both sides thanks to the skylight where a waterfall flows at the front. At the back, the ceilings are pierced so that we have a view of the four floors.
The floors are linked by flights of stairs or by the elevator, which is original. The steps, especially those outside, are a nod to the iconic Montreal staircases, says Daniel Cohlmeyer.
Although the floors are similar in their layout, the perspective on the garden is changing, notes Tim Zyto. “Each time you get to another floor, the garden looks a little different, because you’re higher. »
Co-founded in 1995 by Tim Zyto and Danny Chartier, Montauk has other stores including Calgary, Vancouver, Chicago and New York. In Montreal, where they manufacture their chairs, they did not own the old store, also located on the Main, a few streets north. For this one, they therefore wanted the total. And they got it, as evidenced by the numerous prizes — notably from the Ordre des architectes du Québec and the Grands Prix du Design — which have all rewarded their audacity.