The second permanent accommodation (1975)


By the early 70s, the number of delegates of States attending the regular triennial Assemblies was outstripping the capabilities of almost all major convention centres in the world; costs of holding Assemblies with full services in four languages, including multiple and simultaneous meetings, had become prohibitively high. In addition, the ICAO building (at 1080 University Street) presented inadequate rooms in number and size to accommodate major technical meetings held in Montreal. The implications of various financing and management alternatives of a new Headquarters building, i.e. wet-lease (with rental and all building services included), lease purchase and complete ownership, had been considered at that time by the Organization; a pure lease arrangement had appeared to offer definitive advantages and seemed to be the only practicable option taking into account the Canadian Government subsidy.


Thus, Canadian Government authorities sought to construct new facilities specially conceived for the Organization on the prestigious Sherbrooke Street (at 1000 Sherbrooke Street West), facing the McGill University campus and overlooking Mount Royal. The construction proposal was known as the Schreiber project; in addition to the importance of the architectural concept, a factor which would contribute to ICAO’s identity, general quality, interior space layout especially with regard to the Conference facilities, it was selected due to the desire for a downtown location easily accessible by every means of transportation and within easy walking distance of major hotels. The award-winning 27-storey building (including a five level base structure) was designed by a firm led by Montreal’s Architect André Vecsi; ICAO initially occupied fifteen floors of the building, as well as the whole conference complex adjacent to it to the rear. The new Assembly facilities could accommodate 600 people and the total space rented was 220,000 square feet.


Contributions from Contracting States, typical of their arts and natural treasurers, were sought for the furnishing and decoration of the new building. The headquarters of ICAO in Montréal are not simply office buildings or conference centers. If they are to symbolize the Organization they house, they must also have some of the qualities of a museum. ICAO has gradually acquired outstanding works of art. The Guided Tour of ICAO Art Collection as shown by the following link (The ICAO Art Collection) reveals a remarkable collection of art and artefacts donated or loaned by the Organization’s Contracting States and displayed as of 2002 in the building currently occupied at 999 Boulevard Robert-Bourassa.


The building was scheduled for completion by November-December 1974; however in 1974, labour troubles and other difficulties affecting the financing of the building project as a whole delayed construction of the building. The actual physical transfer from the old premises to the new was completed in two extended weekends; by Monday 21 July 1975, all ICAO operations had been effectively transferred to the new building. The official inauguration of the new Headquarters premises took place on 3 October 1975.



ICAO Headquarters at 1080 University Street (under construction and completed).


Postcard showing Montréal downtown and ICAO Headquarters located at 1000 Sherbrooke Street West, facing McGill University.


Assembly Hall at 1000 Sherbrooke Street.


The mural in anodized aluminum, Man in Flight, was commissioned by Switzerland from Hans Erni’s design and installed on 1000 Sherbrooke West in 1975; it covered three sides of the main elevator core of the building quarters.

The main side of the mural shows Daedalus on the left and a winged horse on the right.


Commercial cover sent to ICAO on 1000 Sherbrooke Street West.