1 September 2008 — 1 December 2013
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:
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:
Competition as a public procurement process is considered fundamental, regarding in particular:
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:
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.