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Sumit Singhal
Sumit Singhal
Sumit Singhal loves modern architecture. He comes from a family of builders who have built more than 20 projects in the last ten years near Delhi in India. He has recently started writing about the architectural projects that catch his imagination.

A New Viaduct for the MIL Campus of the University of Montreal in Canada by civiliti

June 13th, 2017 by Sumit Singhal

Article source: civiliti

A simple viaduct, located at the entrance of the University of Montréal’s future campus, creates a unique visual and spatial happening.

In forthcoming years, the University of Montréal, one of the city’s major institutions, will be opening a second campus located on a former railway yard.

Existing tracks had to be relocated in order to accommodate the new facilities and a new viaduct was built over the campus’ future access road. The site was dug to allow the underpass, then bermed up slightly to accommodate the 24-metre steel bridge structure. The reinforced concrete abutments extend into zigzagging retaining walls, creating a dynamic mineral landscape.

View of Zigzagging Retaining Walls, Image Courtesy © civiliti

  • Architects: civiliti
  • Project: A New Viaduct for the MIL Campus of the University of Montreal
  • Location: Montreal, Canada
  • Client:
    • Service de la mise en valeur du territoire, Ville de Montréal
    • Service des infrastructures, de la voirie et des transports, Ville de Montréal
  • Architectural team:
    • Peter Soland, Lead Architect
    • Fannie Duguay-Lefebvre, Lead Urban Designer
    • Pascal Forget, Project Architect
    • Etienne Ostiguy, Project Architect

View of Lightgrid, Fully Lit, Image Courtesy © civiliti

  • Engineering team:
    • Marc Mousset, Lead Engineer
    • Tuong Phong Huynh, Lead Electrical Engineer
    • Petrica Voinea, Lead Structural Engineer
  • Engineers: 
    • Groupe S.M. International

Night View, East Approach, Image Courtesy © civiliti

Detail of brdge and abutment, Image Courtesy © civiliti

The 44-metre guardrails on either side of the viaduct were made in four sections: they are steel-framed assemblages backed by perforated steel plaques, coated with metalized paint. The diagonal steel plates recall the triangulated motif of more traditional truss bridges. A similar motif was developed for the protective railings along the sidewalks below.

View of Sidewalk Railing, Image Courtesy © civiliti

Rain Pattern, Image Courtesy © civiliti

The viaduct’s unique signature transforms it into a subtle landmark on the campus.

Facing the campus, the viaduct acts as a backdrop that comes to life at night when four light ‘tableaux’, inspired by Sol LeWitt’s Wall Drawings, appear and disappear in the dark. These, generated by 135 LED light bars inserted on the diagonal grid of the west guardrail, are programmed to produce ephemeral patterns in constant movement. The chosen theme for this virtual animation is that of the four seasons: drops of rain, followed by snowflakes, allude to the fall and winter seasons; creepers announce the spring and fireflies celebrate the summer.

Snowflake Pattern, Image Courtesy © civiliti

Partial View of Embedded LED Bars, Image Courtesy © civiliti

The east guardrail is treated in a more static but no less dramatic way. At night, the upper structure appears to float above its sculptural base, every detail emphasized by lighting. The geometric pattern used for the architectural guardrails is reproduced on the railings protecting the parallel sidewalks, below the viaduct.

Daytime View, East Approach, Image Courtesy © civiliti

Close-Up of East Guardrail, Image Courtesy © civiliti

Responsible for the architectural and lighting treatment of this bridge, the designers believed that a subtle and poetic use of light would resonate within the heavily transformed environment. They hoped to draw attention to the railway yard’s history, soon to be totally eradicated with the advent of new university pavilions and urban streetscape.

Close-Up View of Lit Guardrail, Image Courtesy © civiliti

Railing and Guardrail Pattern, Image Courtesy © civiliti


Founded by Peter Soland and Fannie Duguay-Lefebvre, civiliti is an award-winning firm, responsible for numerous public spaces in Montréal, Québec City and Ottawa. Known for its ability to design contemporary interventions respectful of historical city fabric, the firm has received numerous awards over the years. In 2017, two of civiliti’s projects, the Outremont Campus Viaduct and the Bassin-à-gravier Park were granted awards (Grands Prix du Design de Montréal). The firm is also one of the 2017 Azure Awards’ finalists for its Outremont Campus Viaduct project.

Graphic Studies of Lighting Patterns, Image Courtesy © civiliti

Lighting Grid Detail, Image Courtesy © civiliti

Conceptual Elevation, Image Courtesy © civiliti

Map Montage Railway Yard (1949) and Preliminary Campus Master Plan (2006), Image Courtesy © civiliti

Early Conceptual Sketch, Image Courtesy © civiliti

Site PlanSite Plan, Image Courtesy © civiliti

Plan, Elevation and Section, Image Courtesy © civiliti

Axonometric View of Guardrail with Embedded LED Bars, Image Courtesy © civiliti

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Categories: Bridge, Footbridge, Track

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