A Q&A with Pas­cale Té­trault


Pas­cale Té­trault, ar­chi­tect and part­ner at Fig­urr Ar­chi­tects Col­lec­tive, was born in La Présen­ta­tion — a small town in the Mon­térégie re­gion, on the out­skirts of St-hy­acinthe. The youngest of seven chil­dren, Pas­cale grew up with her par­ents and sib­lings on their farm of field crops: corn, soya, bar­ley and wheat. She at­tended high school at Col­lège St-mau­rice and then com­pleted the science pro­gram at CEGEP St-hy­acinthe. When she was 18, Pas­cale moved to Mon­treal to study ar­chi­tec­ture at Mcgill Univer­sity.

We met at the Fig­urr of­fice on St-an­toine Street.

Did you al­ways want to be an ar­chi­tect?

As a child, I had no idea what an ar­chi­tect was, but loved build­ing things. By the time I grad­u­ated from high school, my ca­reer path was clear. Af­ter CEGEP, I felt that Mon­treal was the best place for an as­pir­ing ar­chi­tect to live.

Mcgill was my first choice of uni­ver­si­ties; I was aware of its in­ter­na­tional rep­u­ta­tion and wanted to be­come com­fort­able in English. It was a four-year pro­gram plus a three-year in­tern­ship. Af­ter my first year, I got a sum­mer job at a lo­cal ar­chi­tec­ture firm and be­gan ac­cu­mu­lat­ing hours to­ward my in­tern­ship. I re­turned to the firm each sum­mer.

When did you grad­u­ate?

I com­pleted classes at Mcgill in 1994. The mid-nineties was a chal­leng­ing time for the econ­omy and hit the con­struc­tion in­dus­try es­pe­cially hard. Some pro­fes­sors even ques­tioned our choice of ar­chi­tec­ture as a ca­reer. A few stu­dents in my class changed pro­fes­sions; one of them is now my den­tist.

This was a pe­riod when I was start­ing a fam­ily, so one could say the re­ces­sion was well-timed for me. My sons, Sa­muel and Mer­lin, were born in 1995 and 1997. When they were lit­tle I took on con­tracts from home and, in 1998, re­turned to full-time work with ar­chi­tec­ture firm Saucier Perotte.

I worked on Col­lège Ger­ald Godin, which was a big and re­ally nice pro­ject. I felt that my ca­reer had of­fi­cially be­gun.

What hap­pened next? An­other of our projects was a joint ven­ture with Menkès Shooner Da­ge­nais, ar­chi­tects. I en­joyed work­ing closely with Anik Shooner. In the year 2000, I got a call from an old Mcgill col­league. He was open­ing a satel­lite of­fice, in Mon­treal, for a U.S. firm that spe­cial­ized in health care and wanted to ex­pand into Canada. He asked if I would join him and I agreed, but af­ter a few years the com­pany found there were too many ob­sta­cles and closed the Mon­treal of­fice. Dur­ing my time with them we had bid on con­tracts in col­lab­o­ra­tion with lo­cal ar­chi­tec­ture firms, in­clud­ing Ru­bin & Rot­man.

In 2003, Stephen Rot­man heard I was avail­able and of­fered me a po­si­tion. I ac­cepted and never left; in 2017, I be­came a part­ner.

Two years ago we re­branded as Fig­urr Ar­chi­tects Col­lec­tive, with of­fices in Mon­treal and Ot­tawa.

Does Fig­urr have a spe­cialty?

We are a mul­ti­cul­tural team with di­verse ex­pe­ri­ence and have made a con­scious de­ci­sion not to spe­cial­ize in one type of job. We do com­mer­cial, in­sti­tu­tional and multi-res­i­den­tial projects and work a lot with Cree com­mu­ni­ties in the James Bay area. I en­joy all kinds of projects — es­pe­cially the com­plex ones — but work­ing with In­dige­nous com­mu­ni­ties is my favourite.

What res­i­den­tial projects are you work­ing on now?

One is Le Wil­liam (with Groupe Quo­rum) in Griffin­town, which con­sists of 162 condo units. An­other is Vita rental con­dos (with Co­gir) at the in­ter­sec­tion of Henri-bourassa and Mar­cel-lau­rin. Vita is a trans­port-ori­ented de­vel­op­ment (TOD) and will be built in three phases. It fea­tures a gym, rooftop pool and ur­ban chalet. Phase 1 will be com­pleted in May 2020 and Phase 2 will be de­liv­ered in 2021.

And in your spare time?

I still en­joy build­ing things and have a work­shop in the base­ment of my home. An­other of my pas­sions is cy­cling. My con­joint and I love to bike long dis­tances — of­ten 100 to 150 kilo­me­tress per day. I do a lot of sports, jog and en­joy go­ing to the gym. Stay­ing fit is es­sen­tial for me. We don’t own a car, as our bikes and public tran­sit take us wher­ever we need to go.

My kids are grown up now; I see them when­ever they have time. Sa­muel, 24, is an en­gi­neer and Mer­lin, 22, is cur­rently study­ing en­gi­neer­ing at the Polytech­nique.

What puts the spring in your step?

I love our team’s col­lab­o­ra­tive spirit. The op­por­tu­nity to be cre­ative is amaz­ing and it’s not just about build­ing struc­tures — some­times it’s about cre­at­ing new ways of do­ing things.

It might sound like a cliché, but I en­joy mak­ing oth­ers’ lives bet­ter. I get close to achiev­ing this ob­jec­tive when I work on a First Na­tions school pro­ject. This work is so grat­i­fy­ing and re­ally in­spires me.


Le Wil­liam, a res­i­den­tial pro­ject in Griffin­town, con­sists of 162 con­dos — 11 of them town­houses — and in­cludes a cen­tral court­yard gar­den ac­ces­si­ble to all res­i­dents and vis­i­ble from the stag­gered bal­conies that en­liven the new façades. The three-build­ing pro­ject be­gan with the ren­o­va­tion of a fac­tory into res­i­den­tial lofts, that build­ing’s ar­chi­tec­tural past and in­dus­trial flavour of 1895 be­ing for­mally main­tained.

Joy Ot­tereyes Rain­bow Memo­rial School, opened in the north­ern Que­bec com­mu­nity of We­mindji in 2017, depicts a mother goose shel­ter­ing her young. Fig­urr Ar­chi­tects Col­lec­tive de­scribes the origami-in­spired struc­ture as spread­ing its wings from a cen­tral agora or meet­ing place and notes that the goose, an icon of Cree cul­ture, is a com­fort­ing re­minder of First Na­tion roots and con­nec­tion to na­ture.

Phase 1 of Vita rental con­dos, at the in­ter­sec­tion of Henri-bourassa and Mar­cel-lau­rin Boule­vards, is slated for com­ple­tion in May. A trans­port-ori­ented de­vel­op­ment, Vita will be built in three phases.


Aanis­chaaukamik­w Cree Cul­tural In­sti­tute oc­cu­pies a cen­tral site in Oujé-bougoumou, Que., a James Bay na­tive com­mu­nity. In­spired by the Cree long­house tra­di­tion­ally made of tree branches, its de­sign was de­vel­oped by na­tive ar­chi­tect Dou­glas Car­di­nal and Ru­bin & Rot­man Ar­chi­tects.

Phase 2 of the Vita rental con­dos is sched­uled for de­liv­ery in 2021.

Rain­bow El­e­men­tary School in Waswa­nipi, Que., was built in 2007 and re­placed an over­crowded ex­ist­ing school.


Pas­cale Té­trault, ar­chi­tect and part­ner at Fig­urr Ar­chi­tects Col­lec­tive.

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