Grand Théâtre de Québec

Lemay + Atelier 21

By adding a transparent, immaterial and structural layer to the original Grand Théâtre de Québec, Lemay + Atelier 21’s innovative envelope refurbishment solution protects and preserves the building’s two distinguishing components: its brutalist architecture by Victor Prus and integrated sculptural mural by artist Jordi Bonet.

The theatre is a cultural icon with its modernist architecture, defined inside and out by prefabricated concrete panels, and its monumental sculpted work that covers nearly 60% of its interior walls.

At the time of our involvement, moisture had caused the concrete panels’ steel anchors to disintegrate. Any alteration had to be severely limited: the building’s fragility, and the inability to directly access the steel anchors, were additional challenges.

The solution shields the theatre from the elements by creating a secondary, tempered envelope housing a low-flow heat recovery and thermal mass system, which is both energy-efficient and economical. The new layer now acts as an extension of the original building it protects, using the same finely tuned structural logic and composition.

The glass casing is a delicate response to a complex problem. Amplifying the original building morphology, it revolves at the corners; it lifts at the base; it fades; ultimately leaving the building intact and perfectly visible. It can appear solid or immaterial, depending on the light, blurring the boundaries of the building. The brutalist lines and artistic narrative are even more striking thanks to this subtle, functional and ecologically viable solution.