In preparation for the Canadian Centennial celebration in 1967, the federal government established a $25 million fund to support cultural infrastructure projects throughout the country. Among the fund’s beneficiaries was a new city hall and cultural centre for the town of La Pocatière, in eastern Québec. The 1960s was a time of growth for the town, in part thanks to the successful “Moto-ski” snowmobile factory that would eventually evolve into the Bombardier plant that is still in activity today.
The Québec City firm of La Roche, Ritchot & Déry was hired to design the centre, with Jean Ritchot as main architect. Work started in 1966 and the building was dedicated in time for the Centennial, on April 16, 1967. Resolutely modern in appearance, Ritchot’s design was also pioneering in terms of engineering solutions, using prefabricated concrete support elements for the performance hall roof, which had just started being used in Québec. The folds in the side facades not only provided visual dynamism but also further rigidity to the building.
The ambitious cultural program envisioned by the municipality however failed to materialize over time, and the hall mostly served for local gatherings and exhibitions. Another performance space in the nearby Cégep opened in 1982, further making the Centennial hall redundant. In 1994, the theatre was thus converted to become the town library.
A recent revitalization in 2018-19 restored the original interior space of the performance venue while upgrading it for library use. Led by the interior design studio Fauves, the intervention highlighted the modernist elements of Ritchot’s design, in particular the folded facades and their T-shaped clerestory openings. The room’s original purpose as a performance venue is still visible through the elevated former stage, now occupied by bookshelves. The lower area, where the audience once sat, is subdivided into computer and activities space, an open exhibition area and a service and welcome desk.
Established in 1987, the public library in La Pocatière now offers 16,000 documents to its 2,500 patrons and is open 4 days a week.
The images in this post date from my visit in April 2022. Don’t miss the other modernist gem of a library at Cégep de la Pocatière, which I visited the same day.
This post is part of a series on adaptive reuse in libraries. See the list of such projects I am maintaining or view other posts in this series.
- Édifice Gérard-Dallaire—Répertoire du patrimoine culturel du Québec. (2022).
- Copinet, L. (n.d.). Bibliothèque La Pocatière. Maisons Fauves. Retrieved January 3, 2023
- Copinet, L., & Michaud, F. (2021). Bibliothèque de la Pocatière. Ligne, 05, 30–33.
- Kuntz, P. (2007). Les bibliothèques de La Pocatière et les programmes d’immersion. Documentation et bibliothèques, 53(3), 167–173.
Library detail pages are primarily a place for me to collect information I gather on the libraries I visit, and are frequently updated. None of this should be considered authoritative, I am not an architect, nor a historian. If you notice something incorrect, please let me know!