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Rio Tinto Alcan Planetarium

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The Rio Tinto Alcan Planetarium
Credit: Espace pour la vie (Raymond Jalbert)

Where science and emotion meet

- Opened April 6, 2013 -

The opening of the Rio Tinto Alcan Planetarium is a milestone in the creation of Montréal Space for Life, the first space in the world dedicated to humankind and nature. With the Botanical Garden, Insectarium, Biodôme and Rio Tinto Alcan Planetarium, Space for Life is the largest concentration of natural science museums in Canada.

Apart from its spectacular and ecoresponsible design where aluminium plays a prominent role, the Rio Tinto Alcan Planetarium innovates with a totally original approach to astronomy. The cutting-edge equipment at the Rio Tinto Alcan Planetarium guarantees a unique experience for visitors. Along with the astronomical information usually offered by this type of institution, the Rio Tinto Alcan Planetarium creates a link between the sky and life here on Earth, not only through science but also through art and poetry. This innovative approach positions it as a leader on the international scene. 

An international architectural competition

Five concepts were proposed as part of a two-phase international competition. The winning firm, Cardin + Ramirez et Associés, Architectes, joined forces with Ædifica_Architecture + Design, SNC Lavalin, Dupras Ledoux ingénieurs, and Fauteux et Associés Architectes Paysagistes. The interdisciplinary team, some of them experts in LEED certification in Quebec, have a marked interest in building designs focused on renewable energy and sustainable development.

The architectural concepts were assessed in terms of six criteria: the innovative environmental approach and the quality of integration of the LEED credits used; the originality of the museum concept with a view to creating an enduring architectural ensemble; the quality of the visitor experience inside, in keeping with the functional and technical program; the consistency of the solution with the program requirements; compliance with the budget; and the quality of the team.

Overall project cost: $48 million

The project is being carried out in collaboration with the Olympic Park and with financial support from:

  • City of Montréal ($25.7 million)
  • Federal government ($9 million)
    • Canada Economic Development
  • Provincial government ($9.5 million)
    • Ministère du Développement économique, de l'Innovation et de l'Exportation du Québec ($9 million)
    • Ministère de la Culture, des Communications et de la Condition féminine du Québec ($500,000)
  • Rio Tinto Alcan ($3.8 million)

Design of the first show for the multimedia theatre

Artistic direction for the astronomy theatre, exhibition space and lobby

  • Michel Lemieux and Victor Pilon

Design of the first permanent exhibition

  • Laurent-Michel Tremblay Scénographe inc.

Architectural competition

  • Winning team and partners
    • Cardin + Ramirez + Julien & Associés architectes
    • Ædifica, SNC Lavalin, Dupras Ledoux ingénieurs, Fauteux et Associés Architectes Paysagistes, Go multimédia
  • Two-phase competition of international scope
    • First phase in the competition: selection of 5 finalists from plans submitted anonymously
    • Second phase: selection of the winning team
  • 61 firms submitted proposals in the first phase

Public call for tenders

  • General construction contractor: Groupe Décarel inc.
  • Supplier of specialized equipment: Sky Skan Inc.

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