Founded in 1964 by R. R. Nicolet, the firm now known as NCK Inc., took off after the completion of Phase 1 of the cruciform building of the Place Ville Marie Complex (1958–1962), a major project carried out in collaboration with architect I. M. Pei, who helped reorient the development of downtown Montréal. To this day, PVM remains the heart of downtown and the focal point of underground Montréal.
Mission and History
NCK’s mission is to meet the challenges of clients and architects by carrying out structural projects of any size and complexity, according to their requirements and in compliance with budget and schedule constraints and current standards.
To achieve this, NCK mobilizes the resources necessary to ensure the success of the project, regardless of the effort required and the investment of the skills to be implemented, all without subjecting the firm to budgetary considerations. As its client’s representative and responsible for the scientific component, NCK is committed to ensuring rigorous implementation with undeniable professional ethics.
Construction of Place Ville Marie in 1961
Port-Royal residential tower in 1964
During this period, the firm carried out the project of Place Ville Marie other buildings, as well as the design of Place Bonaventure, Pyramids of the Olympic Village, Mirabel International Airport and Port Royal 33-storey skyscraper. Moreover, the latter retained the title of the highest residential tower in Québec until the construction of the Altitude in 2010, also carried out by the firm.
Roger Nicolet in his office with the first prototype of the CN Tower in 1972
In the early ’70s, the firm was approached by the Canadian National Railway wanting to show the strength of Canadian industry by building the tallest building in the world. The CN Tower was completed in 1976 with the contribution of the firm’s comprehensive structural consulting engineering services. The tower has been chosen by the American Society of Civil Engineers as one of the Seven Wonders of the Modern World and held the title of the tallest building in the world until 2005. This achievement, as well as collaboration with architect I. M. Pei in projects such as the Everson Museum of Art (New York, 1965) and the Herbert F. Johnson Museum (New York, 1973), has propelled the firm’s reputation on the international scene.
Grand Louvre Pyramid’s spiral staircase during construction in 1988
The firm was commissioned by the French government, under the recommendation of I. M. Pei, for the realization of the structure of the Grand Louvre Pyramid in Paris. While new projects were being carried out in Québec, the firm’s involvement was increasing in Europe, leading to the creation of an office in Zürich dedicated to the projects of the Midfield Terminal of Zürich Airport and Bern’s Fire station, Feuerwehrstützpunkt.
Jacques Chartrand working with drafters in the early ’80s
The great involvement of Jacques Chartrand and Franz Knoll in the various projects led the firm to appoint them senior partners and to its name change to Nicolet Chartrand Knoll Ltd.
Milad Tower in Tehran, Iran, designed by NCK in the ’90s
During the ’90s, the firm created an office in Toronto and became involved in a few projects in the Middle East and the Near East, including King Abdulaziz University (Jeddah, Saudi Arabia), Al-Tajiat Stadium (Baghdad, Iraq), Milad Tower (Tehran, Iran) and the Lali Bridge (Khuzestan, Iran).
Nicolet Chartrand Knoll drawing room in the ’90s
In addition to its international projects, the firm continued its involvement in Québec and the surrounding area, thanks its growing team. At the end of the ’90s, the firm was granted several accreditations, including Aéroports de Montréal (ADM). Project offices were then created to ensure the maintenance of government institutions assets.
Glass roof of domestic and international departures at ADM
In the context of accreditations, several projects were carried out by the firm at the turn of 2000. Mr. Alain Déom became in charge of the expansion of Lac Leamy Casino, as well as the bridge and the tiered parking lot of Casino de Montréal (including pavilions’ maintenance of assets). For ADM, he has been leading the projects for the new multistage parking lot, the transborder facilities, as well as the complete redevelopment of road accesses and the maintenance of assets of Dorval and Mirabel buildings.
Éric Preiss, Guillaume Sieprawski and Jacques Chartrand (back) in NCK offices in the midst of a technological transition in 2005
In the same period, the firm adapted to technology, and little by little, drawing tables disappeared to make way for computer-aided drawing. Mr. Alain Déom is appointed senior partner of the firm in 2003 and Nicolet Chartrand Knoll Ltd. changed its name to NCK Inc. in 2009.
The new Maison de Radio-Canada under construction in Montréal in 2018
In order to meet the challenges of clients and architects by designing structural projects of all sizes and complexity, NCK’s growing team ensures and maintains the quality of its professional services through the involvement of more than 70 employees.
In 2018, NCK carried out a corporate reorganization as two engineers joined the founding partners of the management team. Valérie Chartrand and Guillaume Sieprawski, members of the firm for several years, were recognized for their professionalism and their involvement in the most important projects entrusted to the firm, including the new Maison Radio-Canada, CRCHUM, and Maestria, One Square-Phillips and 900 Saint-Jacques residential towers of more than 60 storeys.
Place Ville Marie new glass roof in 2020
The firm has been mandated by several of its clients and partners for revitalization, development, expansion and restoration projects of flagship buildings in Greater Montréal. Despite the many projects underway in the city, the firm is also pursuing its international involvement. Current and upcoming projects include REM Station of Aéroport de Montréal, Eaton Centre revitalization, reconstruction of the National Palace of Haiti, and the transformation of the esplanade of Place Ville Marie complex. Part of the terrace was replaced by a glass pavilion considered one of the most important structural glass constructions in North America.