Musée national des beaux-arts
du Québec by OMA


Dutch architects Office for Metropolitan Architecture have won a competition to design an extension to the Musée national des beaux-arts du Québec in Canada.

The winning design, announced today, is described as a "cascade of three overlapping boxes".

See all our stories about Rem Koolhaas/OMA in our special category.

Here's some info from OMA:



New York, 31 March 2010 – The Office for Metropolitan Architecture (OMA), has won the competition for a major expansion to the Musée national des beaux-arts du Québec (MNBAQ). The 12,000m2 new building, a cascade of three overlapping boxes at the juncture of downtown Quebec City and the historic Battlefields Park, will be OMA’s first built project in Canada.

The winner was announced today by MNBAQ President Pierre Lassonde and the Quebec Minister of Culture, Mme. Christine St-Pierre. The design, led by OMA partners Shohei Shigematsu and Rem Koolhaas in collaboration with associate Jason Long, was chosen unanimously from five submissions by internationally renowned architecture offices.

OMA’s expansion of MNBAQ – linked underground with the museum’s three existing buildings – is located on Quebec’s main promenade, Grande-Allée, adjacent to St. Dominique Church. The design aims to integrate the building with the surrounding park and initiate new links with the city. Three stacked galleries of decreasing size – housing contemporary exhibitions (50m x 50m), the permanent contemporary collection (45m x 35m) and design / Inuit exhibits (42.5m x 25m) – ascend from the park towards the city, forming a dramatic cantilever towards the Grande-Allée and a 14m-high Grand Hall, welcoming the public into the new building.

Shohei Shigematsu commented: “Our ambition is to create a dramatic new presence for the city, while maintaining a respectful, even stealthy approach to the museum’s neighbors and the existing museum. The resulting form of cascading gallery boxes enhances the museum experience by creating a clarity in circulation and curation while allowing abundant natural light into the galleries.”

The project will be executed by OMA’s New York office in collaboration with Provencher Roy + Associés Architectes, with an anticipated completion date of fall 2013.

Posted on Wednesday March 31st 2010 at 10:24 pm by . Copyright policy | Comments policy

  • PAt

    Amazing!!! I’m so glad!! For me, us, and our city!!


  • Koolhaas and his layers of boxes…I’ve seen basically all of these circulation ideas before in his proposals for Cornell’s new Architecture building. Also similar in how he was trying to deal with an adjacent historic structure. I guess it will make for some good interior layouts, but the outside doesn’t really excite me. I think its best virtue is its unobtrusiveness, but to claim that it’s dramatic I’m not sure. Its a contemporary style that looks kind of commonplace now, but maybe the point is to provide dramatic interiors within a city that already has its ornate stylings to the street.

    Funny how a school and a museum attracted the same space solutions.


  • ChenShen

    It is uncanny that this feature was placed after the previous story on “Primary school by Carlos Pereda Iglesias and Óscar Pérez Silanes”

    One is built and the other a competition winner. So much for orginality OMA :-)

  • Well done Foster! British architects has done it again! Nice boxes.

  • tsktsk

    a “cascade of three overlapping boxes” – please OMA, get new writers…

  • EricK

    I agree with Bill. Looks like a recycled OMA concept.

  • my comment

    being totally aware of the fact that criticizing big names and having a (unhealthy) nostalgic attitude towards their recent designs is pointless.

    But still, this is just like seeing kurt cobain in 2010 rappin in an r’n’b mtv….

  • Antonio Conroy

    Why shold always do something new? This is a tipical Oma building and I like it.

  • spielbergulison

    Compared to some rubish that OMA has been producing recently, this is ok…
    I hate the Dubai, Star wars project… but kinda like this one…

  • ste

    looks ok… but why talk about circulation ideas and layered spaces without show any interiors or at least sections?? boring post…

  • Marianne

    I’m so happy they win !!!
    I wish the nanogel insulation will really be part of the concept untill the end !

    A great project for this small wanna-be-big city !

  • Neo Quebecua

    It is sad that the worldwide master of museums and galleries -David Chipperfield- didnt win this competition.

    All I wonder is how this transparent box is going to be efficiently and sustainably heated during -40C québec winters? Is going to be kool-has…but kold-has too.

    Good Luck québecois!

  • Marcus Des

    Rem Koolhasbeen.

  • OB

    Marianne a la clé! De l’aérogel! À voir sur google!

    Ce sera la première application à grande échelle de ce matériau révolutionnaire, du moins à ce que je sache. OMA a vraiment trouvé le code (désolé pour ça) de Québec en proposant des boîtes de «glace» isolante, avec une structure apparemment en space-frame de bois, et en respectant la cour intérieure carrée qui devait être préservée. Un projet conservateur, sympathique et sensible pour ménager la sensibilité et le manque de culture architecturale de notre population.

    Un vaisseau spatial n’aurait jamais passé, et on en aurait eu pour dix ans de commentaires désobligeants de la part des médias de masse à l’endroit de l’architecture et des des dépenses en culture.

    Marianne said it: NANOGEL or AEROGEL: please google it!

    It will be one of the first large-scale application of this revolutionnary material (remember the plastic/bakelite revolution?). The ice-looking insulation is a drammatically appropriate material for a design in our cold Capitale. Sure, it is another cantileverd glass box, but believe me, OMA understood really well the issues for this very political project. The spaces and relations with the city look just perfect. And if the floors are some kind of a wood space-frame as it looks like, Koolhaas demonstrates again his marketing talents in our wood-adulating nation having a bad moment with our wood industry because of US republican policies since 5 years.

    Finally, I don’t think a spaceship-looking museum would have helped to raise the underestimated reputation of architecture here.

  • vinch

    maybe is an old concept but this is the kind of approach that I like most from OMA.
    They have done lately so many inconsistent projects and now finally they come up with this.
    Welcom back OMA congratulation!

  • 4 more

    so what about the other 4 projects?

  • My Gf is sick

    i’m always surprised at the cynical attitudes on these boards. yes it is typical oma but it works and looks nice so who cares. what is wrong with reusing a previous concept and developing it further? i think this project looks nice.

    i’m sure they will be using nanogel similar to the virginia tech lumenhaus that can be found here

  • vibenade

    thank you for being consistent OMA! love the spatial qualities & very stunning renderings!

  • Cicero

    Koolhaas and his team had better projects. Standard themes.

  • Frank

    I cant believe the lameness of some comments. OMA has given the world great buildings and here you are dissing one before it’s even built… Shame one you. Looks great, hope it gets built!

  • k

    Definitely agree with above comments. OMA knows how to do this well, doesnt matter if its a standard theme. Just because you can recognize an idea doesnt mean it is no longer good. Besides, the iridescence of this proposal is lovely. Admittedly, Ive only visited the Seattle Library. But it works damn well spatially. Others such as Sanaa, do not know how to get the spatial payoff from the stacked box approach. It could be a nice building. Of course, if you pay professional renderers enough… Still, they know how to back it up with the final product.