An Ever-Changing Building
When the Art Deco style made its way into the architectural world in France, in the 1920s, the Verdun Auditorium didn’t yet exist. It wasn’t before the thirties and forties that several buildings inspired by this artistic movement appeared on Montréal’s landscape. The Auditorium is a worthy representative of this trend. Its designers, architect Anastase Gravel and engineer Henry Hadley, gave the arena a simple architectural style where the volumes are light-coloured, plain, and straight. Its vast, oblong-shaped lobby, 91.5 × 50.3 m in area, its interior steel structures, consisting of free-standing, visible columns and beams, and its 18.3-metre-high gable roof were set in the North American Art Deco-influenced architectural style.
Between 1950 and 1970, the Verdun Auditorium shined. Its skating rink was used every day by many sports teams. Never would the arena have imagined that it would be so popular among the Verdun and Montréal population. With a capacity of approximately 4,000 people, the building even started to lack time slots and space to accommodate all the sports teams in the city. To meet the Verdun residents’ needs the Auditorium had therefore no choice but to welcome a companion by its side in 1977, the Annex, baptized a few years later Aréna Denis-Savard. Together, the two buildings can accommodate nearly 8,000 people.
The oldest arena in Montréal continued to be transformed over time. As the years pass and needs change, the arena redesigned certain spaces. From 2008 to 2011, the Auditorium was home to the Junior de Montréal team, in the Québec Major Junior Hockey League. To welcome this type of team, the arena was obliged to improve its facilities, thus, corporate box seats and a press gallery were set up.
The Verdun Auditorium was reconfigured several times after it was first built; however, it isn’t such transformations that are of great interest today. It is renowned for small details and its furniture. Some original architectural elements are still in place, in fact, making it unique.