MSDL architectes converts montréal's dow planetarium into circular business incubator

MSDL architectes converts montréal's dow planetarium into circular business incubator

architecture firm menkès shooner dagenais letourneux (MSDL) has converted montréal‘s decommissioned dow planetarium into the new facilities of centech, a business incubator that aims to support technology companies. drawing from the building’s former function and iconic circular shape, the architects have developed the project around the concepts of revolution (about an axis) and the circle, transforming it into a dynamic place that becomes a generator, accelerator and source of inventions.

MSDL architectes converts montréal's dow planetarium into circular business incubatorall images by stéphane brügger



closed since 2011 after 45 years of existence and transferred to the école de technologie supérieure (éts), the dow planetarium has been transformed by menkès shooner dagenais letourneux architectes with a variety of new facilities: spaces to encourage encounters, collaboration and reflection linked to tools and advanced technologies; and spaces of social diversity and exchange platforms for sharing knowledge. due to the building’s former function, which required it to be both obscure and opaque, the main architectural challenge the architects faced was to find a way to bring light into the heart of the structure while preserving the memory and nature of the place.

MSDL architectes converts montréal's dow planetarium into circular business incubator



with reference to the perpetual movements of the universe and the curious complexity of ancient instruments such as the astrolabe or the orrery machine, the montréal-based architects transformed the former planetarium not only into a place that visualizes the cosmic movement, but into a dynamic place which uses it. various spatial elements make the movement and this acceleration real and perceptible: from the gears that recall walls composed of a juxtaposition of vertical slats to the concentric circles which are superimposed in the plan.



an open circular space accessible on all sides is located at the center of the building and is intended for unplanned encounters and opportunities that are often at the origin of the greatest discoveries. the rest of the building is developed around this central space: a concentric circulation path leads to the café, the meeting space, and the ‘ideation’ room; while areas intended for businesses are attached to this rotational movement along the main axis of the structure.




project info:



name: conversion of éts’s dow planetarium

location: montréal, qc

client: école de technologie supérieure (éts)

site area: 6,000 m²

building area: 2,000 m²

architects: menkès shooner dagenais letourneux architectes

partner in charge: anik shooner, architect

lead designer: jean-pierre letourneux, architect

project manager: julie morin, architect

team: mehand aziz, frédérick dumas, sylvain gagné, pierre gervais, marc-antoine grondin, mario isa, claude labbé, louis laperrière, gaspard marier, anne-marie nguyen, joanne parent.

structure: SDK

mechanical—electrical: bouthillette parizeau et associés

civil: GHD

glazing: CPA verre structurel inc.

acoustician: snc-lavalin

landscape architecture: nip paysage

entrepreneur: QMD

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