Birks Hotel

After over two years of work, NEUF architect(e)s completed the major renovations on the Birks building, originally built in 1894 for Henry Birks’s jewelry store and now home to Birks Hotel in Montreal Canada.


  • area / size 120,000 sqft
  • rooms 132
  • Year 2018
  • Location Montreal, Canada,
  • Type Hotel,
  • Designed by renowned Montreal architect Edward Maxwell, the building underwent numerous modifications and alterations over the years, leading to poor conditions that threatened its preservation. Visionary hotelier Jean Salette purchased the building in 2016 and lead a team of professionals to help realize an ambitious project, one he dreamt of for nearly 20 years: to transform and restore this historic building into a luxurious boutique hotel that included an elegant French brasserie, all while preserving its original prestige and the celebrated Birks jewelry store.

    Henry Birks & Sons was one of the first businesses established around Phillips Square, along with Morgan’s department store (now Hudson’s Bay) and Montreal’s first art gallery. The era’s wealthy clientele was thus drawn to the square, encouraging other businesses to settle in this location. The commercial evolution of St-Catherine Street continues to this day, embracing a more inclusive audience.

    Storefront windows that had been replaced or partially obstructed over time were restored. Over the years, several park-facing windows had been condemned by the addition of an elevator shaft to the interior façade of the building. The shaft was relocated to the interior of the building, restoring their transparency and the visual connection to the Square. The upper floors, previously the business’s office space, were converted into 132 hotel rooms. A two-storey glass volume now crowns the building – a subtle intervention that respectfully contrasts the richly ornamented façade while evoking the original diamond workshop. Below grades, obsolete mechanical rooms and vaults were converted into a spa. Finally, the new restaurant Henri Brasserie Française, conceived by Jean Salette in collaboration with l’Atelier Zébulon Perron, occupies a portion of the ground floor facing the Square.

    The architects sought to preserve existing historical elements while updating the building systems to correct serious deficiencies. The original plaster mouldings adorning the ceiling were preserved by installing a specialized sprinkler system, necessary to accommodate the building’s new use. When creating the room layout, existing columns were carefully considered and integrated into the plans; each room is thus unique and has its own distinctive quality. Great attention to detail was paid not only to aesthetic elements but also to vital components that would ensure the building’s longevity.

    By evoking the past of a business and individual that have both left marks on Montreal’s history, NEUF successfully reasserts the presence of Edward Maxwell’s iconic Phillips Square landmark. These efforts have ensured the Henry Birks & Sons’ building will continue to stand out in the city’s cultural landscape for generations to come.

    Architect: NEUF architect(e)s
    Design Team: Nicole Vekemans, Atelier Zébulon Perron
    ContractorQuadrax & Associés
    Photography: Adrien Williams, Alexandre Parent, Felix Audette, Caroline Lessard