You can find Part I of Ali’s series here.
What makes Montreal architecture unique?
There is both a modern and a historical element to Montreal architecture. In certain areas, like the Plateau, it is very colorful, with beautiful photogenic facades and brick walls. In other areas, the tones of the buildings are more muted. Really creative graffiti and street art displays often compliment the various colors in the neighborhoods.
I find that it is easy to enjoy and appreciate different areas in Montreal because the city isn’t pushing you to move around – to always be busy – as is the case in New York or some other metropolises. The interaction between architecture and people – the idea that people have the time to appreciate at the architecture and environment around them – is what really sets Montreal apart. It’s not rare to find people sitting outside coffee shops marveling at their surroundings, or tending to their gardens in order to enhance the beauty of their properties.
Where should a visitor wander in order to see some of the city’s most iconic architecture?
Start your tour early in the morning at Square Saint-Louis. Walk up Rue Drolet until Avenue du Mont-Royal; that street has the most colorful houses. From there, wander around and get lost in the streets of the Plateau neighborhood; it’s fun to discover the area yourself.
Most of your photos are of local neighborhoods or homes. Are there public venues or buildings that are architecturally unique as well?
Montreal’s underground also has some amazing architecture. Stations like Saint-Henri, Square Victoria and Jarry have interesting structures within them. Westmount Square and the Olympic Stadium are also must-see locations, as is Habitat 67!
You’ve said that when the weather turns cold, you begin spending more time indoors, photographing in coffee shops. What would you say makes a “good” coffee shop, and which is your favorite for atmosphere and for brew?
Light is everything. The cafe should be bright and thus fill you with joy. This is especially true during the wintertime; we don’t get much sunlight in Montreal, so it becomes even more important to be in a well-designed environment. In terms of importance, the quality of the brew comes right after atmosphere, just because you can always ask the barista to find the best bean that suits your taste.
Without any competition, Café Falco has the coolest interior and L’Artist Affamé has the best coffee in town right now.
What’s your drink of choice when the weather gets cold?
There’s nothing like a good filter coffee.