When I returned to Montreal last fall, I spent much of my time riding around the city on Bixi bikes, which was the closest I’ve ever felt to complete freedom in a very long time: a bike, a city and nothing holding me back from just riding around aimlessly. It gave me a chance to cover more ground than I ever would have if I had stuck to my own two feet.
I came across this new public square at the corner of McGill and Wellington near the Old Port. When I left Montreal, it was still under construction and there were few indications of how it would turn out. (Considering Montreal’s excellent track record of recent square-building, though, my hopes were high). I wasn’t disappointed. Instead of paving over the entire square, or covering it unimaginatively with turf, wild grass was planted, similar to what was done with the median of Morgan Avenue in Hochelaga-Maisonneuve.
Montreal is a windy city and wild grass like this looks particularly romantic when it is blowing in a breeze. It softens the square and defines the space without making it feel cloistered, which would have been the case if shrubs had been planted, or overly precious, which would have been the case with flowers. It’s also looks vaguely rural, which works strangely well with the industrial modernism of the condos that have been built next to the square — a subtle evocation of the weedy decay that characterized the neighbourhood just 10 years ago.
Tags: Montreal, Old Montreal, Squares, Urban Design