2008 – Montréal Ville UNESCO de design : Perceptions et évaluations des actions

1 September 2008 — 1 December 2013

  • Description

    Nearly 95% of respondents wish for the renewal of the Montreal, UNESCO City of Design initiative. At a later stage, it is suggested to focus primarily on establishing decision criteria for projects and strengthening citizens' support for the designation.

    To conclude the Montreal, UNESCO City of Design initiative (2008-2012), it became essential to identify the relevant actions thus far, to assess its scope, and to summarize future priorities. In addressing these aspects, this report considered 5 major objectives:

    • Reveal the strategic positioning of the initiative with respect to municipal action;
    • Report public perceptions relative to the designation of Montreal as a UNESCO City of Design and the actions undertaken in this context;
    • Evaluate the relevance of the approach and the means deployed by the Bureau du design;
    • Observe the values and criteria of quality in design initially promoted by the initiative;
    • Identify future priorities.

    To meet these objectives, we engaged in a dozen individual interviews with key stakeholders: Montreal elected officials, heads of departments of the City of Montreal, and representatives of public partners involved in the process. The report was completed using online surveys, shared with design professionals and members of the public, to which over 320 people responded.

    In terms of strategic positioning, the Montreal, UNESCO City of Design initiative shares common objectives with various policies, sectorial action plans, and detailed planning exercises on a metropolitan scale. Several approaches explicitly recognize the designation of Montreal, UNESCO City of Design as an opportunity for change for the city, namely in Montreal’s Development Plan project - Montreal for Tomorrow - currently under development. The designation is regarded as an economic force for the future development of the city.

    Key actors interviewed perceive this designation positively. A professional culture is likely shifting towards the quality of design values promoted by the Montreal designation. However, some raise the elitist nature of the design industry, which may create a lack of interest relative to the designation and the ensuing initiative’s actions. Questionnaire respondents generally agree that the designation generates tangible benefits, which contribute to the city’s development. More specifically, 67% of surveyed design professionals recognize the influence of the designation in their practice.

    The approach and the methods put forward by the Montreal, UNESCO City of Design initiative are considered a relatively minimal response to Montreal’s development challenges. To ensure optimal deployment, closer alignment with the various municipal entities is essential for many. Overall, it is emphasized that the methods and tools enabled, for instance:

    • To disseminate the City’s actions;
    • To raise awareness among development actors on the importance of design excellence.

    Competition as a public procurement process is considered fundamental, regarding in particular:

    • The public’s right to information;
    • The visibility offered to experts;
    • The transparency of the process.

    Some particular reservations were raised regarding the implementation of winning concepts, regulatory restrictions, and respect for intellectual property. In turn, results from online surveys have demonstrated that the initiative’s best-attained objectives are the promotion of those who advocate and practice good design as well as the promotion of design competition as a public procurement process.

    More particularly, the review of documents associated with competition briefs (e.g. programs and requests for proposals) allowed to update the design quality criteria and values while the analysis of documents associated with competition responses (e.g. winning proposals and jury reports) demonstrated that technical aspects (e.g. feasibility studies) are more often subject to reservations on the part of juries.

    In the future, a large majority of respondents wish for the continuation of the Montreal, UNESCO City of Design initiative actions. Some special needs brought forth include:

    • The support and reinforcement of resources available in the boroughs;
    • The need to demonstrate profitability and added value of deployed activities to consolidate the support of all relevant stakeholders.

    Furthermore, the accuracy of decision-making criteria should be prioritized to better structure interventions on the territory. Finally, designers foresee that further international collaborations through UNESCO’s Creative Cities Network would fuel reflection on their professional practice.

  • Team

    Principal Researcher
    • Sylvain Paquette
      University of Montreal / Full Professor School of Urbanism and Landscape Architecture / Principal Researcher Chair of Landscape and Environment (CPEUM) / Associate Researcher UNESCO Chair in Urban Landscape (CUPUM)
    External Collaborator
    • Caroline Dubuc
      Design Commissioner Bureau du design de la Ville de Montréal / Student School of Landscape Architecture
    • Marie-Josée Lacroix
      Design Commissioner Bureau du design de la Ville de Montréal / Directrice Bureau du design de la Ville de Montréal
    • Dominique McGregor
      Project Manager Bureau du design de la Ville de Montréal
    Research Agent
    • Valérie Gravel
      Student School of Architecture / Architectural Intern N/A
    Research Assistant
    • Jacinthe De Guire
      Student Faculty of Environmental Design
  • Issues

  • Complementary resources

  • Partners

    Other partners

    • UNESCO Chair in Urban Landscape (CUPUM)
    • Montreal, UNESCO City of Design
    • Gouvernement du Québec
    • Ministère des affaires municipales, des Régions et de l’Occupation du territoire (MAMROT)
    • Ministère de la Culture, des Communications et de la Condition féminine (MCCCF)
    • Bureau du design de la Ville de Montréal
    • Conférence Régionale des Élus de Montréal (CRÉ Montréal)