Montreal residents react to gigantic metal ring installed as new city monument


Suspended over Montreal is the city’s newest attraction, a gigantic metal ring seemingly hovering between two buildings.


The newly installed ring is a curved tube of around 30 metres in diameter, and is the final stage of a revitalization of the Esplanade Place Ville Marie.


The art piece was announced in April, but finally went up this weekend, treating residents and visitors to their first look at the ring.


“I think it frames the avenue perfectly, and the plaza,” one pedestrian told CTV News.


“I’m quite a fan,” a Montreal resident told CTV News. “It is controversial, like every monument that is newly built, but I really like it.


“I think we’re going to get used to it and it’s going to become something that really screams Montreal.”


The ring is 23,000 kg — a stainless steel structure costing around $5 million, a mix of taxpayer and private money.


It was designed, says the lead architect, to show the marriage, or union, of the past, present and future of the city.


Through the ring, one can see a glimpse of Mount-Royal, McGill University Street and downtown Montreal.


“The idea is actually trying to bring some meaning with this piece that would be floating between two buildings that we could not touch,” Claude Cormier, with Claude Cormier + Associes, said of his architecture firm’s piece.


Work isn’t completely finished, but since the ring was hauled up Saturday, it has seemed like a blank canvas to visitors looking up. When completed, it will give off a soft light, and will be illuminated in a celebration that has yet to be announced.


To some, it is perfectly Montreal, with one resident commenting that it reminded them of a bagel.


Another resident wearing a McGill sweatshirt said that the ring brought bigger thoughts to mind.


“There’s also the element of a cycle, because it is a circle, it makes us think more about sustainability, seeing the city in a different way,” she told CTV News.


To others, it is a giant waste of money.


But historically, new monuments have always sparked controversy. When the Eiffel Tower opened in 1889, there was a protest in the name of slighted French taste against the useless monstrous monument.


And in Chicago, a shiny, curved shape, affectionately known as “The Bean” was mocked by critics when it was first installed in 2006.


“I am from Chicago originally,” a man visiting Montreal told CTV News as he paused to admire the ring. “Yeah, people hated it, and now it’s the focal point.”


That’s what designers and city officials hope will happen with this ring: that it will become precious to the city.


“I think it captures everything Montreal has to offer — it’s like a lens,” a resident commented to CTV News. “You see us through this lens, we see Montreal through that lens.” 

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