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As early as 1926, the Royal Bank purchased all the buildings on the block located in Saint-Jacques, Saint-Pierre, Notre-Dame and Dollard streets, and had them destroyed to construct a magnificent building that would occupy the entire block.
The bank entrusts the project to the New York firm York & Sawyer, which is specialized in the construction of spectacular bank buildings. They are at the origin of achievements such as the Federal Reserve Bank in New York or the First National Bank of Boston.
The entire construction was conceptualized according to the activities of the bank. At that time, people were entrusting their money to the bank more and more easily. The security measures put in place evolved positively over time so that the vaults of the 360 Saint-Jacques were described as impenetrable ! In the days of the bank’s activities, the basement was called « La Voûte » hence the club’s name.
The Renaissance’s Florentine Palace was the main inspiration behind the genius of the 360 Saint-Jacques’ architecture. Geographically, the Royal Bank Building’s land spans across 28,576 square feet, consisting of three parts: the 103 feet base, the 14 floors tower and the aedicula at the top of the tower. The main entrance can be found on the Saint-Jacques Street, which is marked by two revolving doors that are surrounded by bronze and engraved with coins. Furthermore, a bronze lantern is suspended in the entrance to illuminate the doors even more.
Upon entering the building, we can find ourselves immediately under the splendid Italian renaissance-style ceilings, whose hollow compartments are decorated with moldings of pink, blue and gold leaves. These intricate moldings possess a great resemblance to the Florence Palazzo Vecchio’s vaulted ceilings.
Twenty-two years later, the artist came back to supervise the first renovation that took place!
Starting in the lobby, we are immediately immersed in the history and beautiful architecture of the time. As you approach the foot of the stairs at the entrance, we can admire the magnificent details that dress the wrought iron doors. Nearby, there are 6 bronze elevators that lead to the building’s floors. At the time, the building was one of the few to have elevators. Following, there are five allegorical panels on the doors of the elevators which illustrate the vast activities that took place at the bank. On the first floor, we find the counter hall in the shape of Rome’s Basilica.
The vaults of the Royal Bank were in the second basement of the building. Reachable by the main staircase or the magnificent bronze elevators, one was for the use of the bank while the other was dedicated to customers. It was said that the Queen kept her jewels in the vault for many years. The clients who entrusted their fortune inside, enjoyed the best vaults that were made at that time: they were steel reinforced concrete and armored.
In 1928, means put in place to keep coffers safe are a recent innovation. Indeed, the very fact of being able to open the doors from the inside, made it possible for the people who inadvertently locked themselves in to get out easily. This resulted in fewer and fewer security personnel on duty due to the reliability of the vaults.
To access the vaults, one had to open their impressive doors; which weighed no less than thirty tons, making them the heaviest in the world!
The vaults possessed microphones and a telephone connection which allowed for them to be taped, even when they were shut, which allowed information to be sent directly to the relevant authorities upon necessity, enabling them to operate quickly.
It is in 2002, years after the Royal Bank had vacated the place that a group of investors acquires the building. Mr. Georges Coulombe and his team then take charge of the building. The visionary business welcomed new tenants, restoring life to the place that now sees a substantial customer base.
This is also where ‘Crew Collective & Café’ has settled. All of the ancient architecture’s elements have been conserved. This gorgeous 12 000 square feet café provides co-working space where visitors have the chance to enjoy delicious dishes and lovely hot drinks.
Inside La Voûte, the lighting is subtle and the club’s design adds a modern element that reflects the elegance of the historic building. The team at La Voûte has remained loyal to the image of the building and has arranged the territory to remain authentic. For example, the imposing doors of the vaults were preserved, in tribute to their history. La Voûte’s impressive doors have now reopened and make is a very special place in this world.