Martin Houle is an architect with an atypical career path. After working for a few years in the traditional architecture practice, he now works in a renowned structural engineering firm as a project coordinator. His role consists ‘of building bridges’ between various architects and the agency’s engineers to ensure optimal coordination within various construction projects.
In this same way, Martin Houle is best known for rallying the professionnal community of architects in Quebec. He’s the founding director of the architecture news website Kollectif.net which was launched in 2006. Kollectif’s mission is to blend design and technique, professionals and academics, Anglophone and Francophone groups, by publishing architecture-based information and organizing communal events. Throughout the years, valuable partnerships have materialized namely with the City of Montreal’s Bureau du design along with the Ordre des architectes du Québec.
01It’s Friday night. The intersection is buzzing. There are so many places that are alive right now, whether they’re bars, restaurants or cafés: this is when the Boulevard literally turns into a parking lot. Oddly enough, most drivers don’t seem to mind: not out of resignation, but rather out of a guilty pleasure for purposely contributing to the electric atmosphere! So to those who are not yet familiar with Saint-Laurent’s nightlife: if you’re taking your car, patience is key!
02Let’s make a quick stop at the ATM. Need a specific example of Saint-Laurent Boulevard’s multiculturalism? Look here are the languages you can select from the teller: French, English, Portuguese, Italian or Mandarin. You can’t find many ATMs in Quebec with this many linguistic options…
03I see a lot of tourists lining up in front of the infamous Jewish “gourmet” restaurant, Schwartz’s, made iconic thanks to its smoked meat and its yesteryear atmosphere. Instead, I’m stopping by its avian neighbor, the Portuguese rotisserie Coco Rico. The first thing to tickle your nostrils is that distinctive odor of roasted chicken. I savor a chicken sandwich (spicy please!) with a side of those tasty baby potatoes, deliciously coated with chicken grease that trickled down from the grill that spins them around in their ‘carousel from hell’ – at least from the chicken’s perspective that is… A pickle, a Portuguese flan better known as its charming diminutive of ‘nata’ and a Cherry Coke to cap it all off. I walk out of there full and more importantly, satisfied. Time to relax…
04I now settle my little behind at my second home, Laïka coffee-bar which has just celebrated its 15th anniversary. Bérengère, Dominique, Judith, Géraldine, Georges, Philippe or Bruno welcome me with their standard cheerfulness and familiarity. ‘Latté in a bowl, Marty?’ ‘Yes, please!’ Whether you’re inside or on the exterior terrace during summer, it’s one of the best places in town to enjoy it! Another reason that could explain my particular fondness for this spot is that I feel like I’ve grown with Laïka: the regular clientele is from my generation. But it has expanded these past years by means of their youngsters, especially during brunch! Same atmosphere then, only a few decibels louder on weekend mornings!
05The same way that Laïka is my second home, the Infopresse agency is my second office. Having organized many projects with the fabulous team of Index-Design (specializing in interior design and event planning), they welcome me with their usual enthusiasm. The general ambiance at Infopresse is young, dynamic and inspiring! I sit down with them to discuss strategies, to talk about various projects, but also, to have a laugh! I think it’s an important ability in the business world today: always strive for professionalism, but giggle once in a while to avoid taking yourself too seriously!
And there you have it!
I want to thank you, dear readers, for following me in my little stroll through one of my favorite areas in Montreal. It’s now your turn to discover your own!