Customs House

Customs House is a stunning monument to Beaux-Arts architecture in historic Old Montreal. Thanks to effective lighting design by Éclairage Public, it now characterizes McGill Street as well.

Completed in the early 1900s, the Customs House is one of the most impressive and recognizable buildings in Old Montreal. Noted for its Beaux-Arts architecture, the building is a well-known landmark in Montreal's historic district. The City of Montreal and the Quebec Ministry of Culture and Communications hired lighting designer Gilles Arpin from Éclairage Public to light the building as part of a wider plan to revitalize the area at night.

Arpin used light to celebrate the fine architectural details. "To me, the work of art is not the lighting," he says, "it's what we light." Arpin began by revealing the tall window arches using a single linear luminaire per arch. To minimize the impact of lighting equipment against the historic facade, he chose Lumenfacade Remote for its slender 1.5-inch profile. A custom bracket was developed to allow attachment to the aluminum window frames, since the building's heritage status prevents mounting luminaires directly to the stone.

Arpin selected a combination of color temperatures to accentuate the types of different stone. "The lower floors of the building are faced in granite while the top floors are in a much warmer sandstone," he adds. "It was important for us that the difference could be perceived. So what we did was light the bottom of the building in 4000K and the upper floors of the building in 3000K."

Above the granite arches, a single Lumenfacade Stand Alone luminaire is placed between each column, making its neoclassical characteristics legible from a distance. It ends with what Arpin describes as strong, uniform lighting of the cornices on top.

"There was the idea of lighting the facades so that it would bring ambient light to the street, and compensate for the lack of lighting levels on McGill," Arpin explains. The result not only defines the street's character, it attracts public interest. In fact, Arpin recalls spotting a couple enjoying a glass of wine in the evening at Square des Frères-Charon, the park just across Customs House. "We thought they came from the restaurant in front, but they came from a condo on the third floor," he says. "That means that you at least fulfilled one of the goals, which is to create pleasant places at night."

Equipment Specified
1 x Lumenfacade (2', 4000K, 10° x 60°)
129 x Lumenfacade (4', 3000K, 10° x 60°)
26 x Lumenfacade (4', 3000K, 30° x 60°)
1 x Lumenfacade Remote (2', 4000K, 30° x 60°)
19 x Lumenfacade Remote (4', 4000K, 10° x 60°)
14 x Lumenfacade Stand Alone (4', 3000K, 10° x 60°)
3 x Lumenbeam Large (3000K, 40° flood optics)

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Location: Montreal, Quebec, Canada
Market: Institutions + Workplaces
Lighting Design: Eclairage Public

There was the idea of lighting the facades so that it would bring ambient light to the street, and compensate for the lack of lighting levels on McGill.

Gilles Arpin
Éclairage Public