Place D'Youville, 1980 — Photo — André Voyer


Le Diamant bridges the past and present in a historic building accentuated in a contemporary way.

We have been dreaming about it for 20 years and working on it for 15 years.

— Robert Lepage, the project’s initiator

A Building With Several Destinies

Built in 1879, the building was designed by Joseph-Ferdinand Peachy, an associate of Charles Baillairgé. An architectural gem inspired by the Second Empire style with its mansard roof and central turret, it hosted the activities of the YMCA for almost 60 years.

To Learn More About the History of the YMCA

After the YMCA moved in 1947, the building underwent several additions and demolitions over the years. Several businesses had establishments on the street level, including the famous Cinéma de Paris, the Shoeclack Déchaîné bar, restaurants, offices, a Société des alcools du Québec (SAQ), a dance hall, and a Jac & Gil newsstand. The upper levels, however, were left abandoned and were in a state of extreme deterioration when Ex Machina acquired the building in 2011, with the goal of creating Le Diamant.

In 2019, more than 20 years after Robert Lepage’s dream of a visionary place to gather and explore new ideas, the Le Diamant is being revealed in all its brilliance.


In October 2017, the public’s curiosity was ignited when Robert Lepage, the project’s initiator, revealed the future Diamant. At a press conference, he led a virtual visit of the site and explained the history of the building, which is essential for understanding the spirit of Le Diamant.


In Winter 2019, General Manager Bernard Gilbert welcomed a video team on the construction site for the first time so the public could have a glimpse behind the scenes and understand all the work necessary to bring Le Diamant into existence. The video of his guided tour explains the efforts made to preserve the historic heritage of the building’s rich past.




Quebec City-based multidisciplinary artist Claudie Gagnon was chosen to create the symbolic art piece for the facade of Le Diamant. Inspired by its name and the precious stone, which is represented by the glazed and translucent elements, the artist designed a multifaceted circular work illuminated by fibre optics, titled Atome ou le fruit des étoiles.

This art was commissioned as a part of the Quebec Ministry of Culture and Communication Integration Policy for the Arts in Architecture and the Environment, which aims to promote the work of contemporary artists of Quebec by integrating their art into public buildings.

To Learn More About the Piece of Art of Claudie Gagnon