Magazine article Journal of Property Management

Zig-Zagging Ziggurat

Magazine article Journal of Property Management

Zig-Zagging Ziggurat

Article excerpt

HABITAT '67 IS AN URBAN MULTIFAMILY MASTERPIECE, ACHIEVING SPACIOUSNESS, PRIVACY AND HARMONY WITH NATURE IN THE DENSELY POPULATED URBAN CENTER OF MONTRÉAL

Situated on a narrow, man-made peninsula in the borough of Ville-Marie, Habitat '67's raw concrete zig-zags, interconnected walkways and suspended and landscaped terraces form a sculptural ziggurat that, although created out of 354 cubes of a grey-beige, pre-fabricated concrete, seem to be frozen in the dissonance of a twisted Rubik's cube.

"For the majority of visitors and passers-by, what first strikes them is the entanglement of a multitude of modules, one on top of the other, creating a type of pyramid," said Max Lorte, Le Commandité of Société en commandite Complexe d'Habitation '67 in Montréal.

PRE-CAST PARACISE

Habitat '67 was designed by Israeli-Canadian architect, Moshe Safdie, as a product of his masters thesis in architecture at McGull University and later went on to be an exhibition for Expo '67, the 1967 World's Fair,

"Originally, Moshe Safdie's building was presented as a modern and affordable family residence in an urban environment, that is, in a city center," said Lorte.

Central Mortgage and Housing Corporation of Canada (CMHC), afederal organization, financed the construction of Habitat '67 for Expo '67, Lorte said. The project was initially planned to be a "city within a city," but had to be curtailed for financial reasons. Ultimately, CMHC decided to sell the building in 1986 and its tenants purchased the building, forming a legal entity which is called a Limited Partnership.

Even after more than 40 years, Habitat '67 is in near-original condition. While there is a restoration planned for the future, in which surfaces of all upper walkways and the 80,000 -square -foot esplanade will be replaced, many of the original fixtures are still in working order.

Lorte said that in 2003, high-efficiency furnaces were installed to enhance energy and cost savings in less frigid temperatures; however, the original furnaces are still operating well after 40 years. In addition, Lorte said that Habitat '67 took advantage of a Hydro Québec subsidy to replace all of the lighting fixtures in the garages with more energy-eificient neon lighting. Similar modifications were made to the lighting of the pathways within the interior of the building on the side that borders the St. Lawrence River.

RAT IMITATING LIFE

Habitat '67 s interlocking, interconnected and intersecting components form a structure that looks as though it was taken straight from a Cubist painting. …

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