National Urban Design Awards — 2020 Recipient | Royal Architectural Institute of Canada

National Urban Design Awards — 2020 Recipient

18 Shades of Gay
Award Category: 
Urban Fragments

Lead Firm: Claude Cormier et Associés
Completion: June 2017

18 Shades of Gay, a 1-kilometre-long ribbon-like installation of 180,000 multicoloured resin balls suspended over Sainte-Catherine Street East—n the Gay Village of Montreal—is part of the transformation of the street into a pedestrian mall during the summer. The unexpected, joyful, and positive experience it creates has become the symbol of the Village. By integrating the community into its implementation, consequently facilitating a sense of belonging for the residents, the entire project has added a strong appeal among both locals and tourists, becoming a catalyst for economic and social development in the neighbourhood.

Jury Comment(s): 

“Urban design often considers the public realm and streets as a series of outdoor rooms. The ‘floors’ (roadways and sidewalks) and ‘walls’ (enclosing building frontages) are usually the design focus. This imaginative project expands and refines a previous “ceiling“ of glowing pink balls strung over Saint Catherine St. East to delineate and enhance Montreal’s Gay Village.

"18 Shades of Gay more than met the criteria for this award— as a positive contribution to the public realm, exemplifying design excellence and innovation. The “ceiling“ of this 1 km outdoor room has been transformed into a full rainbow spectrum signifying gay pride. It defines the Gay Village, adds to 24-hour activity, supports the local economy, and successfully elevates an otherwise nondescript urban environment."

"While it is impossible to replicate the immediate impact and novelty of the original Ste-Catherine “Pink Balls” scheme, this second iteration is more finely executed and addresses a broader range of concerns implied in the design of a permanent urban streetscape infrastructure. The degree of community involvement is commendable, as is the extensive planning developed for the project’s continued financing, management, and implementation."

Jury members

Click for full version: 
Aerial view of the 18 Shades of Gay project

PHOTO: Our American Dream

Aerial view of the multicolour balls installed overhead on Sainte-Catherine Street to maintain an unemcumbered streetscape

PHOTO: Jean-François Savaria

Pride in the Village

PHOTO: Facebook de Village Montréal

A place for everyone

PHOTO: Raphaël Thibodeau

Image of the 2018 Tourism Montreal campaign which used 18 Shades of Gay to advertise Montreal to the Toronto, New York and California markets through the We've Got Balls campaign

PHOTO: Marine Intartaglia

Photo of the Laurent McCutcheon Award for the fight against homophobia and transphobia, which has been redefined in the form of a pink bronze ball, showing the symbolic importance of the installation for the community

PHOTO: Claude Guillet, Quartier Général Design