montreal bank cubicle Photo: Adrien Williams

The Royal Bank of Canada abandoned its historic Montreal headquarters back in 2010, but it wasn’t until this year that a new company moved in to take its place. The tenant? Crew, a startup that connects freelance designers and web developers with businesses that need their services.

Founded in 2012, Crew started repurposing the former Royal Bank of Canada spot in January, opening its doors to the public in the spring. Now, the company’s new space is beginning to attract attention from those impressed with how it merges old and new elements.

It’s not hard to see why. Though Crew’s quarters are undeniably modern, with sleek private meeting rooms made of glass and brass-covered steel, many of the features added when the property was built in the late 1920s are still there. For instance, old bank teller stands and deposit boxes remain, as do ornate chandeliers and marble and bronze detailing; overall, the building’s neoclassical roots are still very much present.

montreal bank desks Photo: Adrien Williams

montreal bank cubicle 2 Photo: Adrien Williams

According to Sophie Silkes, head of partnerships and events for Crew, the decision to blend the past and the present was deliberate. “The idea was to make a space as multipurpose as possible while celebrating its history,” she recently explained to The McGill Tribune, adding, “[t]he idea behind using this space was to create an adaptive reuse project and to help open it up to the public so that they are able to celebrate the space, which is really such an architectural marvel.”

Speaking to Fast Company, Henri Cleinge, the architect who headed up the redesign, echoed the idea that adapting the historic space for a new use was important. “I think what’s important for aging architecture is to bring it to life by having a new function. It’s important not to treat the existing as if it were a museum,” he said.

montreal bank chandelier Photo: Adrien Williams

montreal bank tellers Photo: Adrien Williams

In addition to being Crew’s new headquarters, the old Royal Bank of Canada space will house a coworking area and cafe, both run by Crew. Monthly memberships are available for the coworking space, but the cafe is open to anyone — and Crew has promised people who go there to work won’t be hurried out.

“You’re going to be able to come here, plug your computer in and have a good cup of coffee and a healthy snack. You won’t be rushed out. We want people to come and stay,” Office Manager Pina Messina told The Montreal Gazette. Sounds like a pretty sweet deal to us.

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