Place Ville Marie

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Place Ville Marie
Place Ville Marie.jpg
Former namesRoyal Bank Tower
General information
Architectural styleInternational
Address1 Place Ville Marie
Montreal, Quebec
H3B 2B6
Coordinates45°30′05″N 73°34′06″W / 45.5015°N 73.5684°W / 45.5015; -73.5684Coordinates: 45°30′05″N 73°34′06″W / 45.5015°N 73.5684°W / 45.5015; -73.5684
Construction started1958
OwnerIvanhoé Cambridge
ManagementIvanhoé Cambridge
Roof188 m (617 ft)
Technical details
Floor count47
Floor area95,922 m2 (1,032,500 sq ft)
Design and construction
ArchitectI.M. Pei & Partners
Dimitri Dimakopoulos
DeveloperWilliam Zeckendorf
Structural engineerSeverud Associates

Place Ville Marie (PVM for short) is a large office and shopping complex in downtown Montreal, Quebec, Canada, comprising four office buildings and an underground shopping plaza. The main building, 1 Place Ville Marie (formerly Royal Bank Tower from its anchor tenant), built in the International style in 1962 as headquarters for the Royal Bank of Canada, which it still is presently. It is a 188 m (617 ft), 47-storey, cruciform office tower. The complex is a nexus for Montreal's Underground City, the world's busiest, with indoor access to over 1,600 businesses, numerous subway stations, a suburban transportation terminal, and tunnels extending throughout downtown. A counter-clockwise rotating beacon on the rooftop lights up at night, illuminating the surrounding sky with up to four white horizontal beams that can be seen as far as 50 kilometres (31 mi) away.


The name "Place Ville Marie" is often used to refer to the cruciform building only, but it also applies to four shorter office buildings which were built around it in 1963 and 1964, and to the urban plaza which lies on top of the largest section of the shopping promenade, and between the buildings. From a postal point of view the cruciform tower is "1, Place Ville Marie" and the lesser buildings around it are "2, Place Ville Marie" and so on. The buildings and the plaza have been given many facelifts over the years. In the latest facelift, much of the grey concrete and terrazzo of the plaza was covered with grass, flowers and shrubs. The complex has 3,384,000 sq ft (314,384 m2) of space and parking for about 900 vehicles. There are about 70 tenants with 3,000 employees. Via Rail has its headquarters in "3, Place Ville Marie".


The location of Place Ville Marie was originally a vast railway trench gouged in the flank of Mount Royal between the southern portal of Canadian National Railway's Mount Royal Tunnel and Central Station. Most of the building was thus built over the tracks, requiring the structure to be more resistant to vibrations than normally required. As a result, it is the most earthquake-resistant office tower in Montreal.[citation needed]

All of the land bounded by Cathcart Street, Dorchester Boulevard (now René Lévesque Boulevard), University Street (now Robert-Bourrassa Street) and Mansfield Street was owned by the CNR, Railways, with the exception of the venerable St. James Club at the corner of Dorchester and University. Developer William Zeckendorf offered the club the top floor of the Place Ville Marie tower in exchange for their property, but was turned down.[5]


Place Ville-Marie in 1967.

Place Ville Marie was one of the first built projects of Henry N. Cobb, a founding partner of Pei Cobb Freed & Partners. His design was controversial from the start, given its proximity to many Montreal landmarks and the vast changes it would bring to the downtown core.

According to design historian Mark Pimlott, "The most radical aspect of the Place Ville Marie project was that nearly one-half of its 280,000 square metres area were beneath street level... deriving the obvious benefit of being protected from Montréal’s extreme winter and summer climate." Its vast network and multi-purpose is juxtaposed with a continuous interior "with episodes of civic gravity and monumentality".[6]

At the time of construction, the main tower was known as the tallest skyscraper in the Commonwealth, and was the third tallest skyskraper on earth outside the United States. The equivalent of three floors was added late in the project to ensure that this building would not be topped by the neighboring Tour CIBC which was built at the same time.

Conceived and built at a time when Montreal was the Metropolis of Canada, the structure's largest occupant and anchor tenant was the Head Office of the Royal Bank of Canada, the country's largest bank, which moved from its previous head office at 360 St Jacques in Old Montreal. The second new large corporate tenant was the Aluminum Company of Canada (ALCAN) who established in November 1962 occupying 6 floors of the building.[7] The central plaza became an important new public space in downtown Montreal, hosting an historic election rally for Pierre Elliott Trudeau during the 1968 federal election.[5]

Developer William Zeckendorf founded Trizec Properties in order to build Place Ville Marie.[8] He lost a bet to then Royal Bank President Earle McLaughlin, making payment in full (US$0.10) in an elaborate dime encased in acrylic. Exactly what the bet concerned is unknown.

In 1975 Air Canada's headquarters were at 1 Place Ville Marie.[9]

Mayor Jean Drapeau chose the name himself. Ville-Marie was the name of the Catholic colony founded at what is now Montreal in 1642.[10]


On 12 March 1976 Canada Post issued 'Place Ville Marie and Notre-Dame Church' designed by Jean Mercier & Pierre Mercieron. The $1 stamps are perforated 13.5 x 13 and were printed by British American Bank Note Company.[11]

Other information[edit]


The penthouse was home to the Restaurant Club Lounge Altitude 737 restaurant and nightclub, that opened onto a rooftop terrace. The club, which was named for its elevation in feet from sea level, was one of the most famous in the city, and featured one of the most unusual dance floors, which twisted and turned around, and spanned two floors.[12] It later became home to the 360 Observatory, which suspended its operations on 13 March 2020 and announced permanent closure on 3 May 2020.[13]

During the holiday season, a large artificial Christmas tree is installed in the central court. The plaza has a large fountain with programmed water jets and a large abstract sculpture at its centre: "Feminine Landscape" by Gerald Gladstone.

The complex is currently owned by the Ivanhoé Cambridge, a division of the Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec (CDP Capital), who bought the building in March 2000 for CA$450 million.

The building can be seen in the film Scanners II: The New Order in a few scenes.


View of the 1 Place Ville-Marie from the bottom.
The Royal Bank of Canada has various offices in 1 Place Ville-Marie.

1 Place Ville-Marie[edit]

2-3 Place Ville-Marie[edit]

Sekure Merchant Solutions

4 Place Ville-Marie[edit]

5 Place Ville-Marie[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Place Ville Marie". CTBUH Skyscraper Center.
  2. ^ Place Ville Marie at Emporis
  3. ^ "Place Ville Marie". SkyscraperPage.
  4. ^ Place Ville Marie at Structurae
  5. ^ a b Drummond, Derek (February 2004). "In Praise of Modernist Civic Spaces in Canadian Cities" (PDF). Policy Options. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2006-12-01. Retrieved 2007-03-16.
  6. ^ Pimlott, Mark (2007.) "Place Ville Marie, Montréal" in Without and within: Essays on territory and the interior (Episode Publishers: Rotterdam) / artdesigncafe. Retrieved August 19, 2011.
  7. ^ Nerbas, Don (2015). "William Zeckendorf, Place Ville-Marie, and the Making of Modern Montreal". Urban History Review. 43 (2): 5–25 – via érudit.
  8. ^ Foran, Max (1982). Calgary, Canada's frontier metropolis : an illustrated history. Windsor Publications. p. 356. ISBN 0-89781-055-4.
  9. ^ World Airline Directory. Flight International. March 20, 1975. "465.
  10. ^ "Ville-Marie (Colony)" The Canadian Encyclopedia
  11. ^ Canada Post Stamp[permanent dead link]
  12. ^
  13. ^ Métro, 3 May 2020
  14. ^ Alcoa Canada Headquarters
  15. ^ Montreal - Blake, Cassels & Graydon LLP
  16. ^ CIBC Wood Gundy Montreal Le Ville-Marie
  17. ^ "Desjardins Securities (DSIA) | Place Ville-Marie". Archived from the original on 2013-03-17. Retrieved 2012-07-24.
  18. ^ | Place Ville-Marie
  19. ^ Montreal Law Office|Fraser Milner Casgrain LLP
  20. ^ Gowlings - Montreal Law Firm Office
  21. ^ Montreal - Norton Rose Canada LLP
  22. ^ "RBC Capital Markets - About RBCCM - Montreal". Archived from the original on 2012-10-20. Retrieved 2012-07-24.
  23. ^ Canada|RBC Dexia Archived 2012-06-08 at the Wayback Machine
  24. ^ RBC Dominion Securities - 1 Place Ville Marie
  25. ^ Montreal, Quebec Office - RBC Wealth Management
  26. ^ Bioware|GamesIndustry International
  27. ^ "Access to Information Archived 2009-05-10 at the Wayback Machine." Via Rail. Retrieved on June 9, 2009.
  28. ^ WeWork Place Ville Marie Retrieved on March 1, 2016.
  29. ^ Contact|About COGECO Inc.
  30. ^ Hatch - Contact Us | Montreal, Canada

Further reading[edit]

  • Gray, Jeremy. Montreal. Lonely Planet, 2004. p. 31 and p. 67.
  • Frommer, Arthur. Montreal and Quebec City, 2007. p. 139, 153.
  • McKay, Emma ed. Montreal and Quebec City. Colour guide, 2005. p. 34, 106.
  • Ulysses Travel Guides (2007). Montreal. Montreal: Ulysses Travel Guides. p. 103. ISBN 978-2-89464-797-4.

External links[edit]