The Montreal company FABG will imagine the Espace Riopelle of the future

After several weeks of deliberation, the Musée national des beaux-arts du Québec (MNBAQ) has finally announced the winner of its architectural competition for the future Espace Riopelle: the FABG architects. A Montreal group that has “long experience in creating cultural spaces”.

Written at 8:00 a.m

Well-known in the metropolis and its surroundings, the company, founded more than 60 years ago, is actually behind the concept of many cultural places such as the Verdun Auditorium, the Quat’Sous theater, the Joliette Art Museum, the Biosphere or the main Cirque du Soleil office.

Éric Gauthier, general partner of FABG Architects, will sign his firm’s first venture in Quebec. A project that he welcomes with “great joy”.

“It is quite rare that museum institutions are devoted to a single artist. A museum is usually a somewhat neutral space, like a performance hall. The works move and change.

“There we must evoke Riopelle’s presence so that his creations resonate in this place. I have already seen his paintings in museums and sometimes I had the impression that we were losing the essence of his paintings in a very pure space,” says the graduate from the School of Architecture at Laval University. , the interview at Sun.

According to MNBAQ, FABG’s projections regarding the Espace Riopelle particularly charmed the jury due to “the quality of its thinking”, “the intelligence of the concept developed” and “the originality of the proposed solutions to redefine the MNBAQ museum complex to offer the public a more fluid and contemplative overall experience”.

To imagine the Espace Riopelle of the future, Éric Gauthier and his team were particularly inspired by the painter’s studio, which evokes “nordicity, the landscapes of L’Île-aux-Grues”.

We tried to integrate several elements that make people feel halfway between the cabin, the studio where the works are painted, and the museum institution during their visit.

Éric Gauthier, senior partner at FABG Architects

Nature and territory, themes inherent in Riopelle’s creations, thus mark the concept.

A building bathed in light

Although the pavilion is called for to be modified somewhat during the “integrated design process”, thanks to large glass walls, the structure should be bathed in natural light and provide direct views of St. Lawrence River.

Espace Riopelle is therefore designed as an “ascending journey” whose culmination will ultimately lead the public to the circular space dedicated to Tribute to Rosa Luxemburg (1992), an enormous work consisting of 30 paintings.

“Visitors will go up from one floor to the other, mod Tribute to Rosa Luxemburg. The building reflects this effect. The roofs form triangles, a driving force in the direction of this work,” explains Éric Gauthier, who won the 2017 Ernest-Cormier Prize, the highest honor given to an individual for his entire career in architecture.


The room dedicated to Tribute to Rosa Luxemburg will be the tallest in the building. Drone tests have been conducted to assess the height at which visitors will have the best view of St. Lawrence River.

Espace Riopelle will therefore serve as a showcase for the world’s largest public collection of works by Jean Paul Riopelle … but not only.

For Jean-Luc Murray, Director General of MNBAQ, this new building will be the “cornerstone” of the entire museum complex to better connect the different pavilions with each other.

If Lassonde, on the Grande-Allée, allowed the organization to move towards the street to meet the community, it nevertheless created a less logical route for visitors parading through the tunnels.

We want to link the Lassonde pavilion to the national collection. It is a powerful gesture for us, which allows us to confirm our identity. There will be better fluidity.

Jean-Luc Murray, general manager of the MNBAQ

“In addition to creating a great project for Riopelle, this proposal [de FABG] brought other opportunities. We are therefore very happy to kill several birds with one stone,” explains Mr. Murray, who sat on the jury along with four architects and Manon Gauthier, executive director of the Jean Paul Riopelle Foundation.

This improvement of the “visitor experience” was also part of the constraints that had to be respected within the framework of the architectural competition. One point where FABG architects have particularly distinguished themselves, notes the director general of MNBAQ.

According to him, the Espace Riopelle will therefore be an “elegant building” and distinctive, which will be able to integrate with the other styles of the Charles-Baillairgé and Gérard-Morisset pavilions.


With its unique architecture, Espace Riopelle will tie all the other pavilions together and create an intuitive journey for visitors.

According to Jean-Luc Murray, the next few months will thus be devoted to the integrated design process and to the “preparatory phases of the construction work”.

In addition to remodeling its workplaces, the museum will try to present the project to the community and its partners. Whether we are talking about the residents of the Montcalm district, the school community or the team from the National Battlefields Commission. MNBAQ wants to offer an “accessible and inclusive” place for visitors.

The closure of the Gérard-Morisset pavilion is scheduled for January 2023. With the Charles-Baillairgé building closed since April 2022, this therefore means that the MNBAQ will only operate the Lassonde pavilion until autumn 2025, during the inauguration of the Espace Riopelle.

However, a dynamic program will be offered to the public, assures Mr. Murray.

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