Promenade Samuel-De Champlain – Phase 3

Photo credit: Maxime Brouillet

Daoust Lestage Lizotte Stecker introduces the recently completed third phase of Promenade Samuel-de Champlain, a project converting 2.5-kilometers of a previously desolate expanse of highways and rail corridors along the St. Lawrence River into an ideal canvas for a significant recreational and cultural project.

Coastal Meadows; gardens composing a native coastal landscape, animated by giant pebbles | Photo credit: Maxime Brouillet

Completed fifteen years after the inaugural phase, Phase III offers a continuation of the same design language, while evolving to provide distinct and enhanced visitor amenities.

Coastal Meadows; revitalization of Quai Frontenac as a rare opportunity to venture onto the river | Photo credit: Stephane Groleau

The area was once an insurmountable barrier for the inhabitants of the city. The metamorphosis of the highway into an urban boulevard, and the relocation of railway tracks unlocked approximately 150,000 square metres of land for championing active mobility along the riverfront. 

A rich history rooted in the timber trade and shipbuilding, 1872 | Photo credit: Archives du Musée McCord
The riverbank as a habitat, 1908 | Photo credit: Bibliothèque et Archives Canada
A shoreline disrupted by highway and railway wastelands, 1973 | Photo credit: Archives de la Ville de Québec

The primary goal was to return the river to the people—a social mission and driving force behind the Quebec government’s legacy project for its capital city. The architectural vision embraced a comprehensive, multidisciplinary approach encompassing all scales, from the master plan, to architectural and landscape design, down to urban furniture and signage.

Beach sector; an attractive and recreational center within the entire project | Photo credit: Stephane Groleau
Photo credit: Maxime Brouillet
Photo credit: Maxime Brouillet

Promenade Samuel-de Champlain amplifies the presence of the St. Lawrence River, while capturing the essence of the site, and celebrating its historical iconography and the unique character of its coastal ecosystem. Drawing inspiration from the area’s rich history, rooted in the timber trade and shipbuilding, the architectural language mirrors the ingenuity of early 19th-century industrialists, finding strength and simplicity in modern interpretations. This distinctive expression finds its support in the use of a noble material—wood—whose intrinsic qualities evoke the landscapes shaped by dock cuttings and the piles that have defined this coastline for generations.

Beach sector | Photo credit: Maxime Brouillet
Beach sector; the granite wall as an architectured fragment of the adjacent cliff | Photo credit: Adrien Williams
Photo credit: Adrien Williams
Marshland Wharf; juxtaposition of docks enhancing the consolidated existing marsh ecosystem | Photo credit: Adrien Williams

The final phase serves as the captivating centrepiece of the entire project, with the development of a beach reminiscent of the beloved “Plage du Foulon” that animated the area in the previous century.

Photo credit: Stephane Groleau

The design of the main service building, Pavillon des Baigneurs, embodies the elongated form of two rectangular volumes. The first volume, in granite, extends from the curvilinear beach wall, while the second, fashioned from wood, sits atop the granite base, offering panoramic views of the landscape. The strategic use of high-performance glass blurs the boundaries between interior and exterior spaces, seamlessly integrating users into the vibrant beach ambiance. The interior’s white wood pays homage to the sunny character of coastal locales, while the overhangs of the wooden structure artfully frame the threshold and the beach-level snack bar terrace.

Pavillon des Baigneurs; A service point enlivening and serving beach users | Photo credit: Adrien Williams
Pavillon des Baigneurs; a cantilevered wooden volume sitting atop the granite base | Photo credit: Stephane Groleau
Photo credit: Stephane Groleau
Photo credit: Adrien Williams
Pavillon des Baigneurs; a cantilevered wooden volume sitting atop the granite base | Photo credit: Radio-Canada / Erik Chouinard

The beach epitomizes the societal contribution that an architectural project of this nature can provide. Open and accessible to all, regardless of age, background, or social status, it serves as a new recreational haven for the public.

Beach sector; reminiscent of the Foulon Beach as a converging place | Photo credit: Adrien Williams

The interplay between the mirror of water, the swimming area, and the river creates a seamless connection, with the illusion of bathing and strolling within the river’s embrace, thanks to the infinite line of the overflowing basins. The sandy beach, alongside the beach wall and the sea lyme grass plant bed, crafts a landscape akin to a riverside resort tailored to the unique character of the waterway.

Beach sector; a swimming area offering the illusion of bathing in the river | Photo credit: Maxime Brouillet
Beach sector; a mirror of water with an infinite overflow line magnifying the river surface | Photo credit: Maxime Brouillet
Photo credit: Nicole Grenier

Flanking the beach, the promenade unfolds with diverse functions and atmospheres. To the west, visitors traverse a series of gardens mimicking the coastal meadows, blending natural contours with a plant composition characteristic of native coastal landscapes. Meanwhile, architectural elements like Pavillon de la Côte and Frontenac Quay contribute to the project’s contemporary expression. On the eastern side, a dockside trail highlights an existing marshland, culminating in an expansive green plain. Pavillon de la Voile, sports facilities, picnic platforms, and access to the river’s natural edge coalesce into a versatile space.

Pavilion de la Voile; a sheltered stop for users of the Family and Sports sector | Photo credit: Stephane Groleau
Photo credit: Stephane Groleau

The project further served as an opportunity to restore biodiversity to this neglected area, and 1,055 trees, 28,950 shrubs, and 117,000 native herbaceous plants were planted. Efforts were also made to revitalize the Saint-Michel marsh, preserving an ecosystem crucial for the area’s flora and fauna.

Marshland Wharf; juxtaposition of docks enhancing the consolidated existing marsh ecosystem | Photo credit: Adrien Williams
Photo credit: Nicole Grenier

The outcome of this multidisciplinary effort is a project seamlessly woven into its environment, resonating as a resounding success among visitors since its inauguration. It stands as a source of collective pride and identity, aligning perfectly with its objective—to offer users a meaningful, enjoyable experience, while championing goals related to public health, ecology, biodiversity, and climate action.

Photo credit: Maxime Brouillet
Evanescent structures at St. Michel Pier, emulating the genius loci | Photo credit: Adrien Williams

Promenade Samuel-De Champlain, Phase 3

Client: Commission de la capitale nationale du Québec (CCNQ)
Project Manager: Société québécoise des infrastructures (SQI)

Lead designer – architecture, urban design, landscape: Daoust Lestage Lizotte Stecker
Réal Lestage, Eric Lizotte, Caroline Beaulieu, Lucie Bibeau, Grégory Taillon, David Gilbert, Mélissa Simard, Luca Fortin, Maria Benech,

Architecture: Daoust Lestage Lizotte Stecker  

Consortium – landscape: Daoust Lestage Lizotte Stecker, Option aménagement et Williams Asselin Ackaoui 

Partner : Ministère des Transports et de la Mobilité durable 

Engineering: AtkinsRéalis, WSP, Tetra Tech 
Process engineering: François Ménard

Construction manager: Pomerleau
Contractors:
Construction BML – Station de la Côte, station de la Voile et Boulevard
Construction Deric – Station de la plage, mirror of water and the swimming area
Construction Citadelle – Pavillon de la Côte et pavillon de la Voile
Bauvais & Verret – Pavillon des Baigneurs

Photo credits: Adrien Williams, Stéphane Groleau, Maxime Brouillet, Daoust Lestage Lizotte Stecker / Luca Fortin, Nicole Grenier, Radio-Canada / Erik Chouinard, Bibliothèque et Archives Canada, Archives du Musée McCord, Archives de la Ville de Québec.

About Damian Holmes 3339 Articles
Damian Holmes is the Founder and Editor of World Landscape Architecture (WLA). He is a registered landscape architect (AILA) working in international design practice in Australia. Damian founded WLA in 2007 to provide a website for landscape architects written by landscape architects. Connect on Linkedin at https://www.linkedin.com/in/damianholmes/