Bois Franc

Montréal, Québec

Photo Credit: Louis Sauer

CASE STUDY

Initial Research by: Desiree Theriault

Edited by: Samantha Miller & Nicole Brekelmans

Case study compiled in 2017

 

 

Project: Bois Franc

Type of Urban Strategy: Green Cities, Sustainable Design 

Type of ProjectNew Urbanism / Suburban Neighbourhoods

LocationMontréal, Québec 

Date Designed/Planned: 1988

Construction Completed:  2002

Designer: Louis Sauer

 

Bois-Franc is a new urbanist neighbourhood developed by Bombardier Limited Inc. and designed by Louis Sauer. The master plan for the project was created to address the large brownfield site left behind by the former CartierVille Airport landing strip and invigorate a unique and innovative space within Montréal's outskirts.

 

The architect, Louis Sauer, was inspired by the New Urbanist movement that focuses on pedestrian-friendly streets, reducing vehicular priority and enhancing green spaces. The result is the Bois-Franc project was just that – a project that was meticulously designed to strengthen social living, community connection, and ecological systems.

 

CONTEXT


New Urbanism design has become a more popular movement in the late 1980s, emphasizing a sustainable community design approach that redefines suburban living by encouraging the use of 19th and early 20th-century pedestrian-friendly streets that came before the use of automobiles (Semenak, 2012). The movement also revolves around producing higher density, prioritizing green space, enhancing ‘sociable living,’ minimizing urban sprawl, and creating an ‘urban village.’ These neighbourhoods offer citizens a smart community with all the required amenities within walking distance and an abundance of walking pathways, parks, and recreational areas.

Montréal was first introduced to New Urbanism design in the early 1990s when Bombardier Inc. looked to revitalize the 20 million-square-foot terrain of the old Cartierville airport. The architect and urban designer for the project, Louis Sauer, proposed Bois-Franc - a ‘signature town’ that is inspired by the New Urbanist Movement and encourages a lively and vibrant community.

Bois-Franc is now a pioneer of the New Urbanism movement in North America and has proved to be an adequate solution to suburban living. The distinct identity, pedestrian-friendly focused design, and environmentally-friendly atmosphere makes Bois Franc one of the most sustainable and desired neighbourhoods in all of Montréal (Louis, 2017).




SITE ANALYSIS


The location of Bois-Franc Neighbourhood is within the Saint-Laurent Borough, just North West of Montréal's City Centre. The neighbourhood situates itself in proximity to major public transit areas, allowing for the community to reach their commuter train or bus within a 5-minute walk.

Four well-known Montréal Boulevards bound the site: Henri-Bourassa Boulevard to the North, Marcel-Laurin Boulevard to the East, Thimens Boulevard to the South and Cavendish Boulevard to the West. Bois-Franc boasts an impressive amount of green space, where more than 30% of the site’s allocation is to vegetation, parks, trees, and green spaces. The greenery helps mitigate the proximity of the site to the surrounding Airport Plants that are still in use in the vicinity of the site. Streets are set out in simple grid-like patterns with interconnected bicycle connections and walking pathways to increase ease of navigation and improve walkability for the community. Research from Smart Cities Research Services has noted that the Bois-Franc Community is three times more likely to bike or walk throughout the year. There are three major shopping centres and public amenities that are strategically placed to be within 10-15 mins from each home in the Bois-Franc neighbourhood, enhancing the overall public realm of the area and improving accessibility. Bois-Franc is compact and yet allows its community to flow in a model of sustainability and livability.




PROJECT BACKGROUND AND HISTORY


In 1990, The City of Montréal tasked Bombardier Inc.’s Real Estate Services to transform the former Cartierville airport landing into a rejuvenated and innovative urban design project. The aim was to address the brownfield site and create a sustainable environment that would create a unique experience for the citizens of Montréal and become an area of development and pioneering.

A series of comparative studies and case studies were done to assess real estate and urban design projects across Europe and North America alongside Urban Design Company Daniel Arbour et Associés and Louis Arbour. These studies allowed Bombardier Inc. to evaluate and analyze potential projects and inspiration for the former Cartierville airport while allowing Daniel Arbour et Associés to create the Urban Plan. Throughout the analysis and research, Lead Architect and Urban Designer, Louis Sauer determined identity and character for the urban design plan. Louis Sauer was fascinated by the ‘Urban Village Movement’ in Europe (Louis, 2017).

This movement was the inspiration for the Bois-France Neighbourhood that would take over the old landing strip area and create the signature look of the neighbourhood. The plan required to achieve a multitude of goals that would dictate how the new neighbourhood could stand out from the other Montréal projects. The goals included a 30% green zoning requirement, adding 10,000 dwelling units, and utilizing natural elements to enforce the idea of a sustainable community.

Today, the Bois-Franc project is known as a pioneer in the New Urbanist Development. Completed in 2002, it has been considered one of the first New Urbanist developments in North America. The project received plenty of praise from the Urban Design community, the City of Montréal, and of course, the community it harbours (Louis, 2017).




GOAL OF THE PROJECT


The goal of Bois-Franc is to address the large brownfield site left over by the former Cartierville Airport while creating a sustainable, innovative and inspiring urban design project. The project aims to find the balance between urban environments and traditional suburban environments creating a neighbourhood that is both family-oriented and pedestrian friendly while creating density. The goals for the project were:

-Bring in over 10,000 housing units for approximately 20,000 to 25,000 people.

-Accommodate a wide range of market segments and building types

-Accommodate a flexible construction program

-Create a distinct visual image

-Develop a clear communal identity




DESIGN, DEVELOPMENT, AND DECISION MAKING PROCESS


The design and development approach for the Bois-Franc project is split into three phases that spanned throughout the 1990s to the early 2000s. The First phase of the project began with a thorough analysis of the site which looked at the site’s topography, the lack of vegetation and relief, and water drainage issues. The first phase also involved analyzing Bombardier Inc, the City of Montréal and Louis Sauer and Daniel Arbour et Associées goals and objectives. This included mapping out key green space locations, streets, water areas, houses, shops, and community facilities that would help manifest a sociable, livable, and unique neighbourhood.

Additionally, the first phase also interpreted and analyzed European and American precedents that would provide a guide in the design process to address local streets, boulevards, esplanades, squares, placettes (small place or plot of land), and waterways (Louis, 2017).

The second phase of the project involved creating a spatial vocabulary that encompassed physical elements from relevant precedents studied. The spatial vocabulary was utilized to create a new form of pattern for the entire neighbourhood. These spatial elements included Local Streets, Boulevards, Esplanades, Squares, Placettes, and Lakes District and Main Street.

The final phase of the design approach is testing concepts to determine the strategic and sequential steps required to achieve the desired qualities of a new urbanist environment. This phase included looking into pedestrian-friendly projects, vehicular reduction strategies, and invigorating green spaces throughout the site.

Upon completion of the design phase, the construction of Bois-Franc began. This phase involved a five-prong strategy starting first with the extension of the main boulevard across the site to split the site into navigable sections. The second step of the construction involved taking the western section and integrating a green park, while also adding a water basin to enhance drainage. Additionally, the second step also looked at developing a park on the eastern side that included a small lake and enhanced the transition between private and public open spaces.

The third step of the strategy involves integrating six of nine streets and connecting them to the main boulevard. These streets are narrow, connected with long green corridors and allow one-way traffic to discourage the use of vehicular usage throughout the site. The fourth step looked at the development of twenty-five larger urban block squares which were on average 120 ft by 240 ft, as well as ten smaller placettes which were on average 50 ft by 150 ft. Residential neighbourhoods are added around the squares creating active spaces for residence, as well as social nodes for the area (Louis, 2017).




ROLE OF DESIGNERS


Daniel Arbour et Associés was responsible for the urban planning of Bois-Franc. The plan involved analyzing early 19th and 20th-century street patterns and applying them to the Bois-Franc neighbourhood to increase street usage by over 46% (compared to other Montréal Neighbourhoods). The results of this analysis showed that it was critical to create short, narrow streets while also creating small nodal point squares that are surrounded by homes and green corridors that interconnect the community. Additionally, the plan had to relate strongly to the City of Montréal's proposed Nouveau Saint Laurent Neighbourhood – meaning that re-zoning the area would be out of the question. These restrictions helped ensure that the urban plan was flexible, inviting, and accommodating to the residents of the new neighbourhood (Ville Montreal, 2014).

Louis Sauer was brought in to breath in the urban plan, with a simple goal of creating a unique feel to the area of Bois-Franc. His principal role was creating a signature town that would be recognizable and distinct in the outskirts of Montréal. While interpreting the plan, Louis Sauer ensured to develop a strong correlation between the public-sector design and utilizing natural elements such as water to bring together the community (Ville Montreal, 2014).




CITATIONS


Sauer, Louis "Creating a Signature Town: The Urban Design of Bois Franc" Louissauer.files.wordpress.com. September 1994.. Web. 11 Aug. 2017. https://louissauer.files.wordpress.com/2014/03/plan-canada-bois-franc3-1.pdf "New Urbanist Neighborhoods" Spectrum.library.concordia.ca. 8 Dec. 2010. Web. 10 Jul. 2017.+ http://spectrum.library.concordia.ca/2275/1/MQ83830.pdf Arrondissement De Saint-laurent. "History of Saint-Laurent - Neighbourhoods and Developments." Www2.ville.montreal.qc.ca. 8 Jul. 2014. Web. 10 Jul. 2017. http://www2.ville.montreal.qc.ca/arrondissements/sla/historique/en/intro/histvsl/terri/quartdev/boisfranc/boisfranc.html Semenak, Susan. "Friendly streets, Part 3: Sociable by design." www.montrealgazette.com. 2 Oct. 2012. Web. 11 Aug. 2017. http://www.montrealgazette.com/business/Friendly+streets+Part+Sociable+design/2034168/story.html N.a. "Louis Sauer | Louis Sauer, Architect." Louissauer.wordpress.com. n.d. Web. 11 Aug. 2017. https://louissauer.wordpress.com/tag/louis-sauer/




PROJECT IMPACT


Professionals view the Bois-Franc project as one of the pioneering developments for the New Urbanism Philosophy in North America.

The neighbourhood has pushed the boundaries of an average suburban community by integrating a heightened community identity and place-legibility, broad ranges of densities and building types that increase sociable living, and an array of recreational activities throughout all four seasons. Bois-Franc has quickly become one of the most popular neighbourhoods on the outskirts of Montréal that brings in a family-oriented, pedestrian-friendly, and communal identity. The project has gained multiple awards for its innovative urban planning including Habitat Design Awards 2017, Sustainable Communities Award, Residential Project of the Year and the Builder Project of the year (Louis Sauer Architect, 2017).




THE CHALLENGE


New urbanism is about creating and fostering connections between streets, neighbourhoods, the central city, a variety of land uses, different socio-economic groups, and people. Bois-franc emphasizes on the park and open-space network system to define and connect neighbourhoods. Green spaces account for over 12 % of the total area in Bois-Franc, and over 20 000 mature trees have been planted along streets and in the parks. In Bois-Franc, the street network and “interlinked open spaces are envisaged as the elements that will contribute to the development’s character and identity as well as create a sense of functional and spatial continuity within the community.”

One of the issues that challenged Montreal in the early 1980s and 1990s was a need for connecting neighbourhoods to central cities and creating vitality. New urbanism is a philosophy of urban design that emphasizes fostering connections between streets, neighbourhoods, the central city, a variety of land uses, different socio-economic groups, and people. Essentially, creating a small town within a neighbourhood that allows people to connect and enhance their lifestyle.

The solution to this reconnection problem was the development of a New Urbanist Neighbourhood. Bois Franc provided a neighbourhood that emphasized networks between parks and open-space networks, allowing for neighbourhoods to reconnect with their environment. The community boasts over 12% of total green space and has planted over 20,000 trees along the street edges and parks. One of the central premises of the planning for Bois-Franc was to visualize the street network and the interlinked open spaces as elements that will contribute to the character, spatiality, and functionality of the neighbourhood (Louis Sauer Architect, 2017).




GENESIS OF PROJECT


Bois-Franc is a new urbanist neighbourhood developed by Bombardier Limited Inc. and designed by Louis Sauer. The master plan for the project was created to address the large brownfield site left behind by the former CartierVille Airport landing strip and invigorate a unique and innovative space within Montréal's outskirts.

The architect, Louis Sauer, was inspired by the New Urbanist movement that focuses on pedestrian-friendly streets, reducing vehicular priority and enhancing green spaces. The result is the Bois-Franc project was just that – a project that was meticulously designed to strengthen social living, community connection, and ecological systems (Louis, 2017).




PROGRAMMED ELEMENTS


The programmed elements of Bois-Franc include parks, bicycle paths and walking trails, two daycare centres and a residence for independent retirees. More specifically, Bois Franc includes:

-Underground power lines and uniform, appropriate lighting throughout the development.

-A plaza with four service buildings providing pedestrian’s access to several shops without having to leaving the development.

-A distinctive observatory where the entire development may be admired all at once.

-Streets and signs designed to reduce the speed of motor vehicle traffic.

-Sidewalks running throughout the development (Spectrum, 1994).




FUNDING


The funding of the project came through from the Owners of the site Bombardier Inc and the mayor of St. Laurent’s borough, Alan De Sousa. Additionally, all finance for parks and public spaces are covered by the City of Montreal. (Sauer, 1994)

The Airport Real Estate Services was given a task to renovate the 20 million-square-foot former CartierVille Airport runway into an innovative and vibrant Real Estate Development. Bombardier Inc. hired Louis Sauer, architect, and Urban designer, to produce a unique neighbourhood that would attract Montréalers. Thus came Bois-Franc, funded at $1.5 Billion in construction and $115 million towards infrastructure (Ville Montreal, 2014).





 

EDITOR

 

Samantha Miller

Nicole Brekelmans

Zoe Goldman

Desiree Theriault

NAVIGATE 

MCO-00-203-BRANDING-UMT-logo-F3 copy.png

THIS WEBSITE WAS CREATED TO REPRESENT URBAN STRATEGIES BEING TAKEN ACROSS CANADA. COPYRIGHT. 2017.

Professor Richard Perron

RESEARCHERS

CONTACT