04 december 2012

AudaCite Montreal


The crumbling Champlain Bridge, opened 50 years ago, is the busiest bridge in Canada
Photo courtesy of CBC

Location, location, location!  Stephen Leopold, a real estate entrepreneur, says Montreal’s time is coming.  And replacing the Champlain Bridge across the St. Lawrence River is one of the great opportunities for the city, and the region.
Stephen Leopold grew up in the former glory days of Montreal, the era that included Expo ’67, and the 1976 Olympics.  Now, after twenty years of living and working in New York City, he has returned.  With a global perspective honed in the United States he sees what Montreal and the province of Quebec have to offer.

He says the province has the “cleanest, greenest, most renewable energy in the world” something that should be marketed globally.   With 4 universities, Universite de Montreal, one of the best French university’s outside France, and McGill, consistently ranked in the top 20 universities in the world, there is no lack of talent, and it is time to dare again.
After sharing his insights before several audiences, Stephen Leopold and some associates started AudaCite Montreal, an organization and a website to harness the energy in the province.  A province, he reminds us, provides most of the talent to entertainment centers like Las Vegas.
Stephen Leopold says, now that the Champlain Bridge, built during the 1960’s, must be replaced, it is an opportunity with bold design, to put Montreal on the global stage once again.  The bridge is a connection to the suburban communities on the south shore of the river, but it is also the entry from the highway that comes from the American border.  The view of the city crossing this bridge is spectacular, featuring the city skyline against the backdrop of Mont Royal, with the iconic cross, on the top.

Many well-known, and well-heeled Montrealers are supporters of this vision, as is the provincial Order of Engineers, and Architects.  While Montreal is currently mired in an investigation into corruption in the construction industry, construction of the new bridge, is it hoped, would be under a new regime with greater transparency. 

The first step is an international design competition for the new bridge.  Stephen Leopold envisions a winning bid including state-of-the-art elements such as turbine generated heat during the winter, from the moving water below.  And, of course, an audacious structure above, that will be photographed from afar, and sent on post-cards to destinations around the world.

Carmel Kilkenny spoke with Stephen Leopold about his vision
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