Huge structures are always something I fear… and for a good reason. Their sheer size means they have to be structurally strong enough to support themselves and not sag. For building like Ciment St-Laurent, it can quickly become a nightmare since the silos are supported by concrete columns. Add to that, conveyors, walkways and various equipment, all nested under the silos and visible under normal operating conditions, and you get the recipe for quite a headache.
|Ciment St-Laurent in Villeneuve circa 1974 (source: unknown)|
The proof, I’ve drawing and redrawing this building for years now and was never satisfied. Fortunately, a fellow modeller from Montmorency sent me a set of pictures taken in the mid-1970s. One of them was an almost perfectly framed photo of the main elevation. This picture helped me to finally understand how the engineers designed the structure back in the fifties. Finally, the beams and columns started to align perfectly with the silos they were supporting and the track alignment made sense.
|Ciment St-Laurent - Scale Drawings|
I must admit nothing is more rewarding than contemplating a well-crafted set of plans and I certainly want to tip my hat to the men that built this cement plant. As mundane the subject was, the great care to optimize the various components gave rise to an emblematic plant that had genuine architectural merit. Most cement plants are ugly ducklings; nothing more than materialized industrial process. But I’m pretty convinced Ciment St-Laurent wanted its production site, located on one of the major road of the time before the highway boom of the 1960s, to be a flagship. And they did succeed. For proof, I recall a set of professional pictures shot in the mid-1950s showing the cement plant under extremely artistic angles. It was beautiful and could have made any photograph exhibits in town. Unfortunately, that a big part of corporate pride no longer exist and it’s why I want to be sure my model will live up to the prototype.
I certainly wish to quickly find out a way to build this model in an efficient way.