Panorama: Rising to the Challenge Laval, ACDF Architecture

ACDF Architecture, a firm recognized for its seamless integration of iconic structures into formidable landscapes, is proud to unveil Panorama, a 30-storey retirement complex on the banks of Rivière des Prairies in Sainte-Dorothée, Quebec. The first of four senior residences being developed in collaboration with Group Sélection, Panorama is a 286-unit retirement complex comprised of three overlapping components, including 206 apartments, 48 condominiums and a 32-room patient care unit integrated into the tower’s two-storey horizontal podium.

While residents enjoy panoramic views of the adjacent river, and Montreal’s landmark Mont-Royal to the distant south, Panorama is itself a landmark, rising above a landscape otherwise devoid of high-rise buildings. That majestic presence presented a duel challenge for ACDF, who embarked on a mission to build a tower that would respectfully represent the region externally, while ensuring interior affordability, comfort and elegance for its residents.

“With visibility comes responsibility,” explains Maxime Frappier. “The challenge was to build an eye-catching signature tower through a quiet approach in terms of massing, financial structuring and architectural strategies.”

Art through contrast

Panorama’s contrasting façade is a visual magnet, transforming simplicity into perceptions of a three-dimensional tower. The building’s east and west façades, composed of precast concrete panels in three different shades, create a sense of movement through staggered window positioning from one floor to another. With the addition of contrasted lateral panels, the tower invokes a visual interpretation of a cloudy sky hanging above the landscape. To the north and south, Panorama is marked by linear balconies, concrete panelling and darkened windows, providing further contrast to the clear windows of the east and west façades.

Inside out and outside in

Wrapped in anthracite granite, Panorama is anchored by a two-storey podium steeped in comfort and amenities. The podium houses a generous offering of common spaces and activities, including a pool, a spa, a gym, a yoga classroom, a bowling alley, a golf simulator, a pétanque terrain, a coffee shop, a library, a kid’s room and common and private dining areas. From large gathering spaces facing outward towards the river, to intimate café settings focused on Panorama’s interior courtyard, the common spaces are designed to ensure that all residents can find a space for the time of day or the emotion that they are experiencing.

The walls separating Panorama’s common spaces include six feet of glass partitioning, providing both a sense of containment and an open window on adjacent spaces. Rich materials and floor-to-ceiling windows add contemporary touches within the podium, while soft fabrics and carefully selected furnishings address the needs and well-being of the building’s residents.

As opposed to Panorama’s exterior focus on contrasts, the tower’s interior was organized and designed around the concept of seamless flow, and creating connections between the building’s tenants to encourage a break away from solitude. Accessible and unpretentious, its rounded corners and soft fluidity provide stark architectural contrasts to the tower’s sharp, rectangular appearance. A horizontal, double-height atrium serves as the podium’s gateway, where a theme of natural elements pay homage to the surrounding landscape. Natural wood flows from the ceiling into the walls, while organic shapes, two-tone stones, gradient carpeting and blue velvet drapes harmonize with the adjacent river and shoreline.

One plus one

Standard in size, yet well-designed and equipped, Panorama’s apartments embrace the global trend of ‘Plus One’, which focuses on a building’s common spaces, amenities and surrounding environment as significant value-added enhancements to its private living spaces. By ensuring affordable rent and a huge ‘plus one’, ACDF’s expertise and optimal construction choices provide Panorama with a balance of optimal building efficiency and elegance.

The third and most delicate of Panorama’s components, the 32-room care unit incorporates small design shifts that deliver enormous well-being impacts. As opposed to traditional institutional layouts, Panorama’s care unit features a looped circuit that allows for perpetual forward movement, as opposed to the finality of dead-end linear corridors. Built horizontally across two floors and ringing the podium courtyard, the care unit is infused with substantial natural lighting courtesy of expansive windows and via the courtyard below.

“We wanted to avoid the trap of institutional designs and, with Panorama, we have built a warm and welcoming environment for autonomous, sophisticated seniors,” says Frappier.