Unlike its neighbors, this home at 1423 Towers Street in downtown Montreal has stood the test of time. The stone Victorian walls look unchanged, but the building itself hides a secret. At least it’s not home.
For years, Montreal’s transportation authorities have carefully constructed extensive ventilation systems in and under abandoned buildings. Behind the snow-covered front steps hides the depths of the city’s subway system.
STM said it chose an old house for the ventilation station because of the scarcity of land in the downtown core, especially near the green line of the subway under Boulevard Maisonneuve.
Architect Martin Allard Société de transport de Montréal According to (STM), the house was built when Montreal’s middle class moved closer to the city’s Golden Square Mile.
“It was important for us to keep the spirit of that era.”
rebuild brick by brick
Allard explained that the building had been empty for decades, often used by squatters and in a state of disrepair. He said there weren’t any left.
To ensure it was properly rebuilt, STM scanned the building’s façade, numbered each stone, and marked its location on the façade so that it could be rebuilt exactly as it was. Allard said the outdoor woodwork was rotting, but craftsmen were able to make the same.
The original stained glass window above the door has been restored. According to Allard, it took digging through 364 layers of paint to find the original color of the wood frame. it was green.
Finally, to complete the illusion, lighting was installed at the front door, so the house looks inhabited.
“I believe it,” said Allard. “People even leave leaflets on their balconies. You have to try to remove them from time to time!”
But the illusion ends at the front door. Push open to find a concrete atrium that descends 18 meters underground into a Metro system tunnel.
At the top, there is an opening camouflaged in the roof of the original house, letting the sun’s rays and snowflakes roll in.
Éric Perreault, STM’s project director, said: “On the left is the tunnel leading to the subway. At the bottom of the tunnel is a recently installed huge fan and silencer.
According to Perreault, the ventilation station has three functions. Getting some fresh air, especially on hot summer days. To exhaust smoke from diesel equipment used at night. Exhaust smoke in case of fire.
The network’s first ventilation stations, built in the 1960s, need to be rebuilt to increase capacity, Perreault explained. The Towers substation can move almost three times more air than the substation being replaced.
However, new ventilation stations must also meet modern noise requirements. Fan noise can’t exceed 50 decibels in the nearest bedroom, he said, Perreault said.
“The fan makes 115-120 decibels of noise and we need to get this down to 50 decibels. What is 50 decibels? [high-end] It’s the dishwasher in the kitchen that you can’t hear,” he said.
Silencers were placed in the tunnels to reduce noise. Sound deadening panels filled with insulating foam are spaced on either side of the fan. Even when yelling, the two of her on either side cannot hear each other.
Silencers not only keep neighbors out of the way, but also keep fans from overwhelming the speakers in an emergency.
STM has been working on rebuilding the ventilation station since the early 2000s, said Perreault. So far he has 11 new stations completed and 6 under construction. By 2026, he said nearly $640 million will be invested in STM’s ventilation network.
Each station will take about 3-4 years, considering the quality of life of the residents. His one project near Papineau Avenue has been under construction since 2018. The problem? There are rocks that need to be microblasted with explosives, Perrault explained.
“We’re not in a quarry, we’re in downtown Montreal, with buildings around us,” he said. need to do it.”
Papineau Station was also badly damaged by the fire, but Perrault said the site should be operational by 2023.