Education / Research

Montréal, UNESCO City of Design in Actions and by the Numbers

The Montréal, UNESCO City of Design Initiative has been a lever for deployment of numerous competitions for development and infrastructure projects, generating significant economic benefits: 35 design and architecture competitions and workshops have been completed, encouraging entries from multidisciplinary teams and promoting diverse fields of expertise; 23 project competitions have led to 102 mandates being granted to designers and architects; $17 million in fees has been paid to design and architecture professionals for projects totalling $225 million.

Montréal was appointed a UNESCO City of Design in June 2006.

In September 2008, the Bureau du design de la Ville de Montréal and the UNESCO Chair in Landscape and Environmental Design at Université de Montréal launched the Building Montréal, UNESCO City of Design initiative, renamed simply Montréal, UNESCO City of Design initiative in 2011. This initiative garnered the support of four major financial partners:

  • Ministère de la Culture et des Communications du Québec
  • Ville de Montréal
  • Ministère des Affaires municipales, des Régionset de l’Occupation du territoire du Québec
  • Conférence régionale des élus (CRÉ) de Montréal


This document succinctly describes the activities deployed to imple­ment the appointment of Montréal as a UNESCO City of Design. It focuses on the core principle of:

“mobiliz[ing] the different stakeholders of urban development around the project of making [designing, building] a better city with [more] designers.”


What were the concrete results of this rallying statement? Here are the first collected results after four years of activities and six years of involvement in the UNESCO Creative Cities Network.

This report draws conclusions on the achievements and provides an up-to-date status on the Montréal, UNESCO City of Design initiative. On the report you will find detailed information on such aspects as:

  • the impact of the initiative on the emergence of a culture of design and architecture competitions in Montréal
  • the engagement of various audiences
  • the opening of new markets for the design community


This is the first report issued as part of a six-year municipal commitment to implementing the appointment of Montréal as a UNESCO City of Design. The results of activities “making [designing, building] a better city with [more] designers” are compelling. As the data demonstrate, the objectives have been met. The amount and diversity of achievements as well as their nature and scope illustrate the municipal will to mobilize all stakeholders in improving the quality of Montréal’s urban landscape and living environments.

Over four years (2008 — 2012), the initiative has supported the develop­ment of a competition practice in design and architecture. But the true measure of its benefits will only be taken after completion of several development projects, particularly with regard to the fundamental objective of enhancing the role of “good design” in planning and building the Montréal of tomorrow.

The true impact of the activities on this objective will be measured upon project completion and through expert and user judgement.

Undeniably, though, the great number of activities so far conducted is a reflection of public enthusiasm for “urban design” and the Montréal design community’s vital role in lending tangible expression to the city’s appointment as a UNESCO City of Design.

This activity report is first and foremost a reading tool that will:

  • help measure the efficiency of activities for the years to come
  • help delineate the terms of the Ville de Montréal’s Design Action Plan for 2013 — 2017