Global menu

History of the Biodôme

Pierre Bourque, director of the Jardin botanique de Montréal, presents a model of the future Biodôme, in the presence of Mayor Jean Doré.
Photo: Les Archives de Montréal (Raymond Gagnon)
The director of the Jardin botanique shows a model of the future Biodôme.
  • The director of the Jardin botanique shows a model of the future Biodôme.
  • Olympic rings in the Biodôme under construction.
  • Construction of the Biodôme.
  • Workers in the Biodôme under construction.
  • Part of the Biodôme team in 1992.
  • Workers in the new Biodôme
  • The Biodôme Mezzanine under construction.
  • The Biodôme Mezzanine
  • The Biodôme's Atrium

From velodrome to Biodôme: A bit of history

The Biodôme was created by the City of Montréal and the Régie des installations olympiques in what was formerly the velodrome for the 1976 Olympic Games. The design of this exceptional building is the work of French architect Roger Taillibert, who also designed the adjacent Olympic Stadium. After hosting cycling and judo competitions during the Olympic Games, the velodrome changed its vocation in 1989 to become the "House of Life".

It was Pierre Bourque, then director of the Jardin botanique, who came up with the idea of transforming the Vélodrome de Montréal into a Biodôme to mark Montreal's 350th anniversary. For him, the Biodôme represented "a cry of hope for planet Earth".

Inaugurated in 1992, the Biodôme was already innovating with its concept of "ecosystem" management, a world first at the time. Today, this ecosystem approach remains unparalleled, either in the faithful and complex way in which it represents the natural environment or in how both the animal species themselves and the animal and plant species interact.

Discover the story behind the creation of the Biodôme in the documentary The Glass Ark, on the NFB website»

1988 Feasibility study
1989 Official announcement
1992 In March: Arrival and acclimatization of plants
June 18 and 19: Official opening
2014 Launch of an international architectural competition to carry out the Biodôme Migration, a project aimed at modernizing the experience
2018 3 April: Temporary closure of the Biodôme to implement the major migration project
2020 Grand reopening of the Biodôme

In February 2014, Montréal Space for Life launched an international architecture competition to undertake a major renovation project called “Biodôme Migration.” An international jury of highly qualified figures from the world of architecture and design, along with experts in biophilic design and sustainable development, chose the winner. The city’s Bureau du design worked with Montréal Space for Life to prepare and run the competition. The goal was to renew the Biodôme’s microcosm where the animals, plants, seasons, light and energy revolve around a central nucleus.

The KANVA / NEUF architect(e)s / Bouthillette Parizeau / NCK consortium won the international architecture competition and later began the process of making the extraordinary Biodôme Migration a reality in collaboration with Space for Life experts.

In 2018, after having won the hearts of millions of visitors for more than 25 years, the Biodôme closed its doors in order to carry out its two-year transformation. This transformation of the Biodôme has not only restored the former Vélodrome de Montréal to its full architectural splendour, but it also offers a renewed visitor experience in which all the senses are engaged in a delightful blend of science, art and emotion.

Biodôme Migration design team

  • KANVA: Head designer and project manager
  • NEUF architect(e)s: Collaborating architects
  • Bouthillette Parizeau: Electromechanical engineering
  • NCK: Structural engineering

Add this