Heritage building Saint-Sulpice Library to get new life as tech incubator for teens
A heritage gem that's stood mostly empty and unused for the past ten years is getting a new life.
Mayor Denis Coderre and Quebec Culture Minister Helene David announced Sunday the Saint-Sulpice Library will house L'Incubateur, a new technology incubator and library for teens.
The century-old Saint-Sulpice Library on St-Denis St. is a pristine example of Beaux-Arts architecture, where old card catalogues and desks still live in a throwback to simpler times.
“Look at what we got: A magnificent building with great reading rooms and even a theatre in the basement so that lectures and presentations could be made,” said Dina Bumbaru, director of Heritage Montreal.
Since the Quebec National Library and archives opened in 2006, Saint-Sulpice has sat largely unused, but that will soon change.
“It will look like a library, but a very modern library for teenagers,” said David.
In a city known for its tech startups, it's a space where youth can get creative, innovate, and learn.
“This project looks to the future,” said Christiane Barbe, president of the Quebec National Library and Archives. “A place for teens to have access to technologies they normally wouldn't get at home or school.”
The National Library and Archives will run the space, working closely with schools and universities, and even hold hackathons.
If you're no longer a teen but love this idea? Don’t worry, you can still visit.
“Downstairs, the other level will be for all kinds of people, not only teenagers. All kinds of people who want a fab lab or startup or to test different things,” said David.
Both the city and province are contributing to the incubator project, splitting the $17-million investment 50/50.
“The idea of introducing 21st-century users, the teenagers, the web and so on, creativity, in this building, is somehow a continuation of its original incentive,” said Bumbaru.
The space will be modernized, while preserving its architectural features.
The mayor believes it's key to revitalizing the Latin Quarter.
“It's the Field of Dreams all over again. ‘If you build it they will come.’ That's exactly how it works. Look what happened at Notman House and other incubators. You have tremendous creativity. Just give them the place and the tools to work with,” he said.
If all goes as planned, L'Incubateur will open in 2017, in time for Montreal's 375th anniversary, filling the corridors and chairs with teens, this time using computers instead of books.