The winning architectural firms
Berlin-based architectural practice Kuehn Malvezzi and Montreal-based firm Pelletier de Fontenay will work as a consortium to realize the design of PHI Contemporary. They collectively share more than 30 years of experience within the cultural and public spheres, bringing together a sophisticated knowledge of the museum domain and a critical understanding of built heritage.
PHI is pleased to begin this new chapter with the architects to transform four heritage buildings and an adjacent lot, located at the intersection of Bonsecours and Saint-Paul (East) streets in the historic district of Montreal, into a new permanent cultural venue under the banner of PHI Contemporary.
The proposal weaves together the historic buildings and new structures into a sophisticated landscape for the presentation and engagement with contemporary art and culture. The jury felt the Architects resolved the complexity of the site with remarkable originality and intelligence, creating a new archetype and landmark that captures the generous and vanguard spirit of PHI Contemporary as an institution.
At the centre of the new design is our understanding of the institution as an active entity that is being formed in real time, open and in a state of permanent transformation. Conceived as an open landscape rather than a building, the design is a simple and solid framework, a contemporary stage for hosting a wide range of activities.
Kuehn Malvezzi + Pelletier de Fontenay
Simona Malvezzi, Wilfried Kuehn and Johannes Kuehn founded Kuehn Malvezzi in Berlin in 2001. Cultural venues, exhibitions and public spaces are a main focus of their practice. From the design for Documenta 11 (Kassel, 2002) to the newly completed Insectarium in Montreal (done in collaboration with Pelletier de Fontenay and Jodoin Lamarre Pratte architectes), they have realized numerous interventions in museums and exhibition venues, such as the Belvedere Museum in Vienna, the Friedrich Christian Flick Collection at the Hamburger Bahnhof Berlin and the Stoschek Collection in Düsseldorf. Current projects include the interreligious House of One in Berlin and the redesign of the Bâtiment d’Art Contemporain in Geneva.
Pelletier de Fontenay
Established in 2010 by Hubert Pelletier and Yves de Fontenay, Pelletier de Fontenay is an architectural practice based in Montreal. The office has quickly gained a reputation for excellence in designing contemporary public projects and is currently working on museums, schools, and public library projects. Pelletier de Fontenay has placed first in two international competitions: the New School LOSBATES near Prague, and the Montreal Insectarium, in partnership with the Berlin firm Kuehn Malvezzi. Locally, the firm has placed first in the Lab-École Shefford competition and the Sanaaq Center in downtown Montreal.
This competition and project testify to the crucial importance of institutions such as PHI Contemporary in amplifying their contributions to contemporary culture worldwide. The new institution will be significant in re-affirming Montreal’s immense creative potential, one that is no secret to those who know and love the city and support its importance as a major capital for contemporary art and culture from around the world.
Amale Andraos, President of the jury
PHI is a cultural ecosystem based in Montreal, Canada, comprising three primary entities. Celebrating its 15th anniversary, the PHI Foundation for Contemporary Art (2007, formerly DHC/ART) dedicates itself to presenting impactful experiences through contemporary art by some of the most influential and compelling artists from around the world. The PHI Foundation presents major exhibitions, a dynamic public program and a progression education program all offered free to the public as part of its commitment to accessibility. The PHI Centre (2012), celebrating its 10th anniversary, has championed projects at the crossroads of art, cinema, music, virtual reality, and extended reality, exploring new territories of storytelling by producing installations informed by new media. In contrast, PHI Studio (2019), the third entity of PHI's ecosystem, develops innovative exhibitions and captivating, immersive experiences presented at world-class venues internationally.
Opening its doors in 2026, the project will be an institution dedicated to the ongoing exploration of the contemporary through art and culture. The project will consolidate the full breadth of PHI’s public cultural offer – currently distributed between the PHI Foundation and the PHI Centre – under one roof.
Carefully and critically curated exhibitions will meet vanguard works from burgeoning creative territories, allowing PHI to fully explore the emergent synergies and curatorial opportunities they represent. Housing exhibition spaces and a generous public domain, the project represents a new cultural infrastructure for the public to engage with PHI’s multi-dimensional presentation of art, discourse and creative practices. This new cultural landmark will engage with the local community, visitors to the city of Montreal and PHI's ever expanding network.
International Architecture Competition
On August 26, 2021, PHI launched an International Architecture Competition for the design of PHI Contemporary. The call elicited 65 world-class entries from architectural firms from 14 countries, from which the jury selected 11 to compete. In the second and third stages of the Competition, the jury selected 5 finalists and 2 grand finalists, respectively.
July 15th, 2022 marks the completion of the competition and the commencement of the design phase wherein the winning proposal will be developed towards realization by the winning architectural firms, in partnership with PHI and the project’s stakeholders.
The competition was presided over by an expert jury made up of the following members:
Amale Andraos, Dean and Professor at Columbia GSAPP;
Elizabeth Diller, professor and partner at Diller Scofidio + Renfro (DS+R);
Miles Greenberg, artist;
Phoebe Greenberg, Founder and CCO of PHI;
Jacques Lachapelle, architect and honorary professor at the Université de Montréal School of Architecture;
Ippolito Pestellini Laparelli, architect, curator and founder of the interdisciplinary agency 2050+;
Jean-Michel Othoniel, artist;
Dan Stubbergaard, architect and founder of COBE.
To learn more about the competition, please visit:
This Fall, PHI is planning a series of events to celebrate the 15th anniversary of the PHI Foundation and the 10th anniversary of the PHI Centre. The PHI Contemporary winning proposal and winning architectural firms will also be presented and celebrated at this time.
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This ambitious project is made possible, in part, thanks to the financial support of the Government of Canada and the Government of Quebec. PHI is proud to partner in the protection and enhancement of Montreal's heritage while contributing a cultural anchor and architectural landmark for future generations. This contribution and support is through the Cultural Infrastructure Development Assistance Program.
© Kuehn Malvezzi + Pelletier de Fontenay, Visualization: Secchi Smith