When “OASIS immersion” opened in December on the ground floor of the Palais des congrès de Montréal, it redefined the meaning of “flexible space” at a convention center. The 20,000-square-foot space, embedded with hundreds of surround-sound speakers, LED lights, and projectors can be used to create immersive audio and video experiences — serving as both as a walkable, experiential exhibition space for installations for Montréal residents and visitors, as well as a technologically groundbreaking venue for hybrid conferences and events.
The space makes Palais des congrès de Montréal the world’s first convention center to offer immersive rooms, said the center’s CEO, Robert Mercure. PCMA Convening Leaders 2021 attendees were among the first to experience the meeting space Jan. 13, when it was the backdrop for a session with Kansas City Chiefs right guard, medical professional, and Montrealer Laurent Duvernay-Tardif. Duvernay-Tardif was filmed there for a pre-recorded session, as well as during a live Q&A.
As the pandemic has forced the expansion of digital events, Mercure told Convene, he saw an opportunity for the convention center to move more aggressively in the direction they already were heading; developing expertise and resources for producing digital and hybrid events, The Palais teamed up with Montréal’s community of entrepreneurs and startups to collaborate on the OASIS immersion and other spaces and services, as well as to incubate new ideas. The partnerships are “bringing in a collision of new ideas from the outside sectors,” Mercure said, and are providing the center with ways to apply non-traditional, creative solutions for clients. The artists and entrepreneurs who developed OASIS immersion invested millions of dollars to produce a permanent space to create new experiences, Mercure said. And for event producers, “there’s this multimillion-dollar stage that suddenly becomes affordable for events.”
Barbara Palmer is deputy editor of Convene.