The Observatoire de la ville intérieure was established in September 2002 in order to connect the work of researchers and administrators, in both the public and private sectors, who have a stake in the development of underground spaces within the urban landscape.
During its start-up phase, from 2002 to 2005, l'Observatoire received an important grant from the Fonds de développement de la métropole, a special fund created by the Québec Department of municipal affairs. Financial support also came and is still coming from private firms, as part of their donations to Université de Montréal's Foundation. The City of Montréal is a major partner whose financial contribution is attached to specific assignments aimed at helping the economic development and planning service as well as the elected officials develop in an optimal way the underground pedestrian network RÉSO and more generally speaking the entire indoor city.
Michel Boisvert, professor in the School of urban planning at Université de Montréal, has been appointed as head of the Observatoire from the very beginning. He is well known in the field of planning for the urban underground and he gathered around him over the years many Faculty members and professionals who help, each one at his or her own pace, reaching the objectives of the Observatoire.
Since April 2010, Michel Boisvert is a retired professor from the Institut d'urbanisme but he is still involved as a research associate. A new head for the Observatoire should be appointed shortly.