Crew Collective & Café
Public café, members’ community, and event venue in the heart of Old Montreal. HQ of Crew & Unsplash. Montréal-based Crew set up their co-working space Crew Collective & Café. One of the most beautiful Café built in an old bank of Montreal. Crew’s approach to co-working is similar to other such organizations, in that it avoids closed-off spaces. Instead, it offers different working configurations that allow independent-minded millennials to meet with colleagues and clients in a relaxed setting throughout the day.
“Our space is breathtaking and inspiring, and everything you need for creative thinking and optimal performance. You can either book a monthly membership or rent one of our meeting rooms hourly. An incredible community in a breathtaking space. We’ve invited Montréal’s best creative minds to work from our space – and you’re in for a few surprises.” – Crew Collective & Café
Crew—a startup tech company that brings together a network of freelance creative professionals—worked with the architect to create a co-working space and coffee shop in the main hall of Montreal’s former Royal Bank headquarters. Located in the Old Port, the neoclassical edifice was the British Empire’s tallest building when it was constructed in the late 1920s, when Montreal was the country’s financial capital. Cleinge faced the challenge of creating a dialogue with the opulent space—while also organizing a complex program that includes both secure and publicly accessible areas, without breaking the visual unity of the grand banking hall.
“We’re taking this old building and moving it into a new era of work,” Crew CEO and co-founder Mikael Cho told the Gazette, in reference to the refurb of the ground-floor as a café, shared work environment, and company headquarters. Crew’s Joseph MacNeil elaborated this past January: “We’ve grown a lot, and needed a new office to fit all of us. However, instead of doing the typical startup office, we’re going to be opening a café open to the public, which will feature super-fast (free) WiFi, silence pods (for doing focused work), as well as amazing coffee [from Café Saint-Henri]. Fifty-foot-high ceilings, 12,000 square feet of space, which, unless I’m mistaken, means it will be the biggest café in Montreal (and probably the prettiest, too).”
Henri Cleinge ARCHITECTE:
Located in the old Royal Bank space on St-Jacques street in Old Montreal, the Crew offices is a project defined by a 12,000 office area for a tech start-up which would also include a café for freelance workers as well as for the public. The project presented two distinct design challenges: The first design challenge originated from the client’s requirements- how to elaborate an architectural relationship and construct boundaries between the various program functions. The second challenge became a deeper questioning on how to approach design in the context of a heritage building.
The complexity of the program required fluidity between the various work spaces. Part of the floor area was to be designated for permanent Crew employees, and was to contain conferences rooms as well as other office standards. Other areas were to be rented to freelance workers either by the month or by the week. These workers were to have access to conference rooms as well. Lastly, temporary workers or the public could also use the café and the desks for a few hours, having Wi-Fi access, and lockers for their computers as required.
This environment was meant to create a flow and possible interactions between permanent and temporary workers, nurturing co-working in the tech community. The design was meant to facilitate this flow by creating transparent and translucent borders between the various office spaces. A complex series of glass walls were erected between the various areas, with a defined access to reflect the degree of permanency for each worker group. The existing bank teller stands dating back from the old Royal Bank were not to be removed. As a consequence, they were used as a natural border between the café space and the conference rooms, which in turn created a separation between the more public spaces and the permanent workers.
The teller stands as well as the existing building shell offered a great design opportunity, as a rich and textured background; a testimony to another era, which could thrive with a new function redefining its purpose. The 1926 building contained remarkably crafted elements: An inlay marble floor, an ornate painted plaster ceiling along with custom suspended brass light fixtures, as well as other brass elements including the teller stands. Confronted with this heritage ambiance, the design had to be carefully balanced to express, recycle, and respect the existing, as well as simultaneously allowing a contemporary discreet intervention reflecting the contemporary identity of the firm to exist.
The new design integrated brass plated steel throughout, fixed to boxy minimal enclosures, in order to dialogue and contrast to the existing ornate brass elements. The conference rooms which were divided and compartmentalized with linear walls, covered with brass plated steel, and enclosed with glass partitions and a horizontal plane of a ceiling, by coincidence, ended up relating to the paper compartments within the existing free standing stands dating back to the paper days, when deposits were inscribed with pen onto paper. The new design remains a kind of secondary feature, allowing the original building to be the primary feature. It is only by being in the space for a certain amount of time that one can appreciate the new intervention.
Project name: Crew Collective & Café
Location: 360 St Jacques St, Montreal, Québec H2Y 2N1, Canada
Coordinates: 45.502301, -73.559255
Type: Coworking Space Interior, Cafe / Coffee Shop
Project area: 12,000 sq.ft / 1,080 sqm
Visit Crew Collective & Café’s Website: here
Client / Owner / Developer: Crew Collective
- Henri Cleinge ARCHITECTE – 165 avenue Beaumont, Montreal, QC H2S 1J2, Canada
- Henri Cleinge, Paulette Taillefer
General Contractor : Gestion George Coulombe
- Mechanical/Electrical Engineer: Pageau Morel et associés inc.
- Code Consultant: Checknorm
Text Description: © Courtesy of Henri Cleinge ARCHITECTE
Images: © Henri Cleinge ARCHITECTE, Adrien Williams