Trois-Rivières Cogeco Ampitheatre
Paul Laurendeau / Atelier Paul Laurendeau
Beauchesne Architecture Design (Associate executive local firm) Dessau-Pluritec (Engineering)
Ville de Trois-Rivières
Marc Gibert Adrien Williams
The challenge was to create a landmark with an initial 34 M$ budget. In order to achieve this, the architectural parti exploited a fundamental core element of the program: a roof that protects the public from the rain. Intended in the program as a low element, limited to the fixed seating area, it was raised at the level of the fly tower to embrace it and extended beyond its initial limits to form an 80 x 90 meter rectangle on the horizon. To make it appear as thin as possible, the sides taper to terminate with a bent 6.4 mm thick galvanized steel plate. At its central area, the roof is 6 meters thick, housing catwalks that give access to technical galleries for stage equipment and lighting. Located in an open site, the amphitheatre has no single front façade. Symmetry was used as a geometric strategy to address its context, in the principle of Palladio’s Villa Rotonda. Eight slender steel columns, 850 mm in diameter, 25 meters high, give the roof a stately while open appearance, with crossing views on the Saint-Maurice River through the auditorium. Red and black express its function. The fly tower, an expansive space facing des Draveurs Avenue leading to the amphitheatre, is clad with aluminum vertical panel painted in three tones of red. The roof soffit, in a last minute decision, was painted a bright red. At night, it turns into a glowing inverted curtain, lit by recessed projectors at the base of the silver painted columns.
After the closing of the Tripap paper mill in 2000 located on a site between the historic downtown and the waterfront, the City of Trois-Rivières cleared the abandoned industrial site to make way for a new urban redevelopment project called Trois-Rivières-sur-le-Saint-Laurent. The site, at the junction of the Saint-Lawrence and Saint-Maurice Rivers, was to give the population regained access to the water front. The quality of the location, in connection with the Harbourfront Park, the downtown streets, the Saint-Lawrence River and Saint-Quentin Island, called for a grand gesture. Several planned infrastructures (promenades, boardwalks, public spaces, cultural facilities) are to serve as an anchor at the crossroads of one of the most important waterways in North America and the Saint-Maurice River. The project's centerpiece is a new outdoor 10 000 seat summer amphitheater. The City demonstrated the will to make the redevelopment project an example of how a community can redeploy itself around a project combining living environment, working, leisure and culture. For the realization of the amphitheater, the municipality chose to proceed by way of an architectural competition to obtain a building of international scope. The competition was seen by the City as a unique opportunity to select a quality building by challenging architects to submit innovative solutions. It was also an opportunity to examine, with experts convened by jury, concrete architectural solutions that aim at making the future amphitheatre a unifying project that is to consolidate and mark the development of Trois-Rivières.
The amphitheatre is being used as a cultural summer venue operating from May to September. It has the capability to present high capacity live shows that attract large audiences as well as more intimate presentations like to local symphonic orchestra or the jazz festival. During the winter months, a monumental thermal door closes the stage opening. Interior spaces can thus host exhibits, public meetings and a winter programming for a capacity of 700. Taking advantage of its spectacular location, the sloping lawn terminates in a thin 5 meter overhang forming a 90 meter long esplanade along the Saint-Lawrence River, atop 7 meter high monumental wood letters forming the word TROIS-RIVIÈRES. The local media claims it will dethrone the Laviolette Bridge, the City’s current symbol and Quebec’s longest steel span bridge over the Saint-Lawrence. Before the competition in 2010 and up until 2013 when its volume started emerging from the site, the project was seen with skepticism by the population. A year before its opening, the Cirque du Soleil signed a 3 year contract for the production and presentation of 3 exclusive shows running 20 nights per season. At an open house held by the City a few days before its inauguration, an unexpected curious crowd of 15,000 people turned up to discover the amphitheatre. During July and August 2015, downtown streets were bustling with locals and tourists. Local media reported the amphitheater’s impact in revitalizing the city’s historic core.