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The six goals of AudaCité Montréal

AudaCité Montréal is the very clear spokesbody for what a majority of Montrealers believe in. As Montrealers, we want to dream big dreams again. For the first time in 40 years we want to dream of what  will benefit Montreal in the same way Expo67 benefited our great city.We are tired of hearing that it is too expensive, that we need to choose simple, ugly and cheap solutions to everything from our buildings’ architecture to what could become our beacon to the world.
In fact, here are AudaCité’s goals for a revitalized future in Montreal:
1) Take full advantage of this once-in-a-generation opportunity to build a bridge that symbolizes Montreal in the 21st century, by creating an icon and tourist magnet equal to the Golden Gate Bridge, the Eiffel Tower, and the Sydney Opera House.

2) Promote the fact that Quebec has the cleanest and most renewable electrical energy anywhere in the world (98% of our electrical energy is renewable). This should be attracting companies and employees around the globe, but like any great product, it needs to be branded and marketed. Economic benefits could last a century and be worth tens of billions if not hundreds of billions of dollars to our economy.

3) Stage an architectural competition and invite the greatest architectural minds in the world to bring their creativity to bear. Mount Royal Park was designed by an American, the Sydney Opera House by a Dane, the Statue of Liberty by a Frenchman, the spectacular Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao by a Canadian, Place Ville-Marie by a Chinese-American, and the Pompidou Museum in Paris by a team  consisting of Renzo Piano and Richard Rogers, the eminent Italian and British architects. Today the breathtaking new transportation hub for New York’s new World Trade Center is being built to architectural plans drawn up by renowned Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava.

4) Bring together all stakeholders in the public, private and para-public sectors, as well as interest groups dedicated to mass transit, electric vehicles and environmental protection, to develop a coordinated approach to meeting this great challenge.

5) Study the financial advantages of heating the roadway to save billions of dollars over the long term in corrosion, accidents and personal injuries.

6) AudaCité Montréal supports the implementation of the “Integrity Pact” which is a tool developed and used by Transparency International to prevent corruption in public contracting and to ensure a transparent and accessible bidding process. An “Integrity Pact” requires the government agency and each of the bidders involved to formally agree to abstain from bribery, collusion and other corrupt practices, encouraging maximum transparency and access to information and instilling greater confidence and trust in the public decision-making process. The “Integrity Pact” is supervised by a completely Independent Monitor. See this page for more details.

We truly believe that we can change things in a palpable manner if we work together.

Stephen Léopold’s speech at Facteur D

Did you attend the “Bridges: For an architectural identity” conference as part of Facteur D today? If not, here’s Stephen Léopold’s speech. And yes, he had a lot to say!

When I was a little boy, I walked down Ste. Catherine Street with my father. I saw a big hole in the ground with train tracks on it. My father said to me:

“Son, from this hole will rise one of the greatest buildings in the world….Place Ville-Marie, the creation of international architect I.M. Pei, rose from the exposed train-tracks, to dominate Montreal’s skyline, then and even today , a half-century later. It embodied a spirit that set Montreal in motion as the world’s number 1 go-go, and go-to city in the 1960’s. We had become dreamers with leadership that dared to dream and dreamed to dare,. And with that leadership came road arteries, that help define and create a new Montreal, that linked the West Island and airport to the downtown, or to the south shore in a matter of minutes. But to we Montrealers, that wasn’t enough. Because we had the audacity to dream. So we built a subway system that was no ordinary subway system. Our Metro was revered by the whole world, by urban planners, architects and tourists because of its quiet rubber tires, cleanliness and artwork. And our Metro made the world think that we were really smart and could contribute and export our smarts to their countries, whether it was the design of Washington DC’s Metro System or subway systems throughout the entire world.

But that wasn’t enough for we dreaming Montrealers. We snagged the Category One World’s Fair for Montreal and it became known as Expo67. We even invented the word Expo; expo 67 attracted millions of visitors and billions of dollars to Montreal. So many in fact that we decided to keep it open for numerous years afterwards and call it Terre des Hommes which continued to attract millions of tourists year after year to spend tax dollars in our restaurants, and shops. It made Montreal stand out to the world like Venus shines in the sky. We had become the world`s Venus and we stood first and center on the worlds map. With expo 67 came leading edge world architecture, such as Moshe Safdie’s Habitat 67. Mies van der Rohe’s Westmount Square. Buckminster Fuller’s Geodesic Dome. We had the audacity to dream and dare. We attracted the greatest living artists in the world. Alexander Calder’s monumental sculpture called….HOMME … We had not one but two Henry Moore Statues on the sidewalks of our downtown. Yes we had become the bold and audacious city of the 20th century. We then challenged the world to a competition to host the Olympics. And it came to choosing one of three cities…Montreal or Los Angeles or Moscow. Well we won, and each of those cities had to wait their turn behind us until they were eventually seen as good enough to host the Olympics, which they did …..AFTER US. And then we won the Montreal expos.

We lost control of costs building the Olympics and we lost faith in ourselves. We went into a collective malaise that said let’s stop dreaming because we cannot afford it, because it will cost too much. Don’t create the greatest in the world, plain old good and even second rate will do..

A 52 year old in this room was 14 at the time of the Olympics. You were reading comic books then, and you’re reading books about retirement now. That’s a whole generation. But I am one of u, a proud ninth generation Montrealer. And I have come back to MY Montreal after spending close to 20 years of my life in NYC, THEEEEEEE Big Apple, and I got involved in a development project inside the World Trade Center, the 18 most densely populated acres in the world and discovered that the Trade Center which was built 10 years after Place Ville Marie had copied the unique underground created in Place Ville Marie. And they had hired Montrealers to do it. Yes the biggest complex in the entire world hired Montrealers for their experience in building greatness.

Well folks, it’s time for us to learn from what gave us our golden days as our city shone brighter than any city on planet earth. Brighter than Sydney, London or Paris. So when I returned to Montreal, I said to myself; how can we reinstall re-inspire, reawaken this first in the world greatness in Montreal, in the heart and soul and can-do spirit of Montrealers. And then I thought. It’s all about great and monumental architecture that will not only brand us for the 21st century but will reinvigorate our pride and can-do spirit when we accomplish what could become the GREATEST piece of architecture of the 21st century.. Why should the GREATEST be reserved for some other city WHY NOT US? And then….Eureka….. I was dodging red cones on the Champlain Bridge, and I realized that it was the most magnificent entry point to Montreal; It is our gateway, but it was the ugliest architecture. Like entering the Louvre through a toxic waste dump.. And I said to myself, why would one install wooden boards over the toxic dump to get into the Louvre. Why not tear up the toxic dump and design and erect an entrance structure and environment that befits the Louvre. Well Montreal is our museum. For multiple decades we were considered the jewel of the world of the 20th century. The time has come to give Montrealers, from Candiac to Vaudreuiul to Laval, the jewel that belongs to all of us, a magnificent entryway and surrounding environment that brings all Montrealers together through all forms of transportation. Our great city deserves no less. Because our bridge connects Montrealers to other Montrealers. But opportunity comes and opportunity goes. Well ladies and gentlemen, the new Champlain Bridge train is getting ready to leave the station at this very minute. And all decisions being made about our bridge are being made behind closed doors by anonymous persons inside that train. This is NOT acceptable. Because THIS is Montreal’s opportunity to show itself to the entire world as the greatest city in all of the Americas. This is our opportunity to build our eye-popping Sydney Opera, our Golden Gate Bridge, or our Viaduc de Millau. This is our opportunity to brand Montreal in the 21st century. This is our opportunity to remind the world that this great city that speaks the two great languages of the world has had some of the greatest architecture in the last 200 years. And that is why each Montrealer must take the lead, and believe and stand up together, and be counted together and say “I want my voice to be heard”. “I want the replacement of the Champlain Bridge to define the way the world looks at Montreal, to define how the world looks at ME, and how I look at MYSELF.” Stand up and say I am proud and I will NOT take good, or very good or even excellent. Say I want the BEST because it will pay us billions and billions of dollars, year after year after year with tourists. It will pay us because as Montrealers we will be respected more as we seek contracts abroad and because our world class universities will be seen in even higher esteem. It will pay us in the same way expo 67 paid us; it will pay us countless times. To those who say “how about the cost?” The most revered and largest private money manager in the country, Stephen Jarislowsky, says: Build something great. It will pay for itself for generations to come.

That Is why I formed AudaCité Montreal and stand before this room that sizzles with creativity and ability, because I see unequivocal support for the audacity to dream again, to dream of greatness.

Each person needs to stand up and be counted, and for that Audacité has created a website. Stand up with your iPhone at audacité, or stand up at your desk with your mouse at audcité Stand up on Twitter, stand up and blog at, Facebook all your friends. Because today, ladies and gentlemen, each one of you in this room, through the power of networking will be the cause of a movement that demands nothing less than the world`s ABSOLUTE BEST ARCHITECTURE to define Montreal to the next generations, to our children and grandchildren and to set a standard of greatness for them to follow with regard to our creativity, our smarts , our spirit, and our tenacity, as compared to the whole world. When we stand up, our leaders will realize that our entire citizenry insists on a new way of doing things and will settle for only the best and that nothing less will do. And you and I and all of us will have a legacy.. An architectural legacy that rebranded and symbolically redefined Montreal to the world for an entire century. And in 100 years from now, somebody in Chile or Australia or Russia will be talking about how they too can build something great, and they will talk about your legacy and how everyone in this room joined a movement to make it happen. A movement that demanded nothing less than the highest level of greatness achievable by man.

In the words of Margaret Mead. “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, concerned citizens can change the world. Indeed it is the only thing that ever has.” -

Thank you very much.

Are you inspired? What are your thoughts?

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