Place Ville-Marie
Place Ville-Marie or 1, Place Ville-Marie (abbreviated as PVM; also previously called Royal Bank Tower due to its principal tenant) is a cruciform office tower built in the International style in 1962, arguably the most distinctive building in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. It is 188 m (617 ft) in height with 47 stories. It was built in the 1960s as the headquarters of the Royal Bank of Canada. Along with an underground shopping mall, it forms the nexus of Montreal's underground city, the world's largest, with indoor access to over 1,600 shops, restaurants, offices and businesses, as well as many of Montreal's metro stations, a suburban transportation terminal, and tunnels extending all over downtown. A rotating beacon on the rooftop (turning counter-clockwise) lights up at night, illuminating the surrounding sky with up to four white horizontal beams that can be seen as far as 50 km away.

The name "Place Ville-Marie" is often used to refer to the cruciform building only, but it also applies to four shorter office buildings which were built around it in 1963 and 1964, and to the urban plaza which lies on top of the largest section of the shopping promenade, and between the buildings. From a postal point of view the cruciform tower is "1, Place Ville-Marie" and the lesser buildings around it are "2, Place Ville-Marie" and so on. The buildings and the plaza have been given many facelifts over the years. In the latest facelift, much of the grey concrete and terrazzo of the plaza was covered with grass, flowers and shrubs. The complex has 2,700,000 square feet (250,838 m 2) of space and parking for about 900 cars. There are about 70 tenants with 3,000 employees. VIA Rail has its headquarters in "3, Place Ville-Marie".

The location of Place Ville-Marie ( 45°30′5.00″N 73°34′8.90″W  /  45.50139°N 73.569139°W  / 45.50139; -73.569139 ) was originally a vast railway trench gouged in the flank of Mount Royal between the southern portal of Canadian National Railway's Mount Royal Tunnel and Central Station. Most of the building was thus built over the tracks, requiring the structure to be more resistant to vibrations than normally required. As a result, it is the most earthquake-resistant office tower in Montreal. All of the land bounded by Cathcart Street, Dorchester Boulevard (now René Lévesque Boulevard), University Street and Mansfield Street was owned by the CNR, Railways, with the exception of the venerable St. James Club at the corner of Dorchester and University. Developer William Zeckendorf offered the club the top floor of the Place Ville Marie tower in exchange for their property, but was turned down.

Place Ville-Marie was one of the first designs of Henry N. Cobb and I. M. Pei, who was later to become a famous master of Modernist architecture. His design was controversial from the start given its proximity to many Montreal landmarks and the vast changes it would bring to the downtown core. At the time of construction, the main tower was known as the tallest skyscraper in the Commonwealth. The equivalent of three floors was added late in the project to ensure that this building would not be topped by the neighboring Tour CIBC which was built at the same time. Conceived and built at a time when Montreal was the Metropolis of Canada during the 1960s, the structure's largest occupant and anchor tenant was the Head Office of the Royal Bank of Canada, the country's largest bank. The central plaza became an important new public space in downtown Montreal, hosting an historic election rally for Pierre Elliott Trudeau during the 1968 federal election. Developer William Zeckendorf lost a bet to then Royal Bank President Earle McLaughlin, making payment in full (US$0.10) in an elaborate dime encased in acrylic. Exactly what the bet concerned is unknown. Though the Head Office was moved to Toronto in the 1970s, RBC still maintains the regional headquarters there. In 1975 Air Canada's headquarters were at 1 Place Ville-Marie. Mayor Jean Drapeau chose the name himself. Ville-Marie was the name of the Catholic colony founded at what is now Montreal in 1642.

Other information
In addition to being the only cruciform building in the core of the city, Place Ville-Marie stands out even more at night because of the rotating beacon on its roof. Its four spotlights are visible at more than 50 kilometres. The building's penthouse contains the Restaurant Club Lounge Altitude 737 restaurant and nightclub (named for its elevation in feet from sea level) and opens onto a rooftop terrace. The club is one of the most famous in the city, and also houses one of the most unique dancefloor which instead of taking the form of a regular rectangular floor, twists and turns around and spans two floors. During the holiday season, a large artificial Christmas tree is installed in the central court. The plaza has a large fountain with programmed water jets and a big abstract sculpture at its center: "Feminine Landscape" by Gerald Gladstone. The complex is currently owned by the SITQ, a division of the Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec (CDP Capital), who bought the building in March 2000 for $450 million CAD.

In popular culture
The building was featured in the opening credits of the Canadian movie City on Fire in which Montreal was used as the city that was on fire.

VIA Rail has its headquarters in 3 Place Ville-Marie.



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