A blank canvas, a stunning city, a top-notch team, and an organization on the move. Put it all together and you get Borealis AI’s striking new Montreal research centre, which officially opened its tunnel, er, doors this week. 

RBC CEO Dave MacKay kicked off the official launch this morning, reinforcing the bank’s commitment to supporting the AI ecosystem through collaboration with Canada’s leading research institutions. He was joined onstage by Nadine Renaud-Tinker, president of RBC in Quebec, and Borealis AI co-founder and head, Foteini Agrafioti, who shared their excitement about expanding the organization’s network of research centres into a city that has shown such dynamic leadership in the field. 

Dr. Alan Bernstein, president and CEO of the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research (CIFAR) followed to announce the RBC Foundation’s $1-million-dollar investment in the organization’s Pan-Canadian Artificial Intelligence Strategy

Our new 40-person research centre is located at O Mile-Ex, a former textile factory that is becoming the de facto AI industrial research hub of Montreal. We share easy access to some of the neighbourhood’s best coffee with our new neighbours Element AI, MILA, Thales, and IVADO.

With our Toronto research centre scooping up design awards and getting full-length features in Toronto Life, our Montreal design team had a tough act to follow. 

Thankfully, at 6,500 square feet and with no building restrictions, there was plenty of space for us to play. That’s why one of the first features we added was a hockey motif in one of our conference rooms. It’s a nod to the city’s deep hockey heritage and a show of good sportsmanship from the Toronto lab for acknowledging the Canadiens. 

A mini soccer pitch sits smack in the middle of the hall for team members to let off a little steam.

And a cinema meeting room pays homage to Quebec’s thriving film industry and specifically to the iconic Snowdon Theatre during its glory days.

The primary theme, however, was the Montreal Metro. Visitors walk through a tiled tunnel throughway to reach the front hall. 

Hang a left and you arrive at a meeting room with swinging egg chairs. On the right, a chill out room with grass and some cozy bean bag chairs.

Groceries get delivered each Monday to the kitchen with its intricate tiled mosaic floor. This is yet another nod to Montreal – this time to its design community and the city’s overall exquisite attention to detail.

Our living room is like being in a park, albeit a park with a large garage door. The bright, open, window-filled space offers a panorama view for lectures, presentations, and meetings. These are all overseen by a gigantic balloon guard dog who monitors the proceedings.

Exceptional research deserves an exceptional space. And if you think this is great, just wait until you see what we have in store for Waterloo, Vancouver, and Edmonton.