‘Reimag­in­ing an old iconic build­ing’

Mar­itime Cen­tre re­design would ad­dress wind, al­ter streetscape

Metro Canada (Halifax) - - NEWS - Ha­ley Ryan Metro | Hal­i­fax

A pro­posed re­design of the Mar­itime Cen­tre would re­vamp the en­trances, cut down the wind tun­nel in the area — and hope­fully change its reputation to many as the “pass­port” build­ing.

The re­design has been in the works since fall 2016 when build­ing own­ers Slate Of­fice REIT and their team of plan­ners and ar­chi­tects went to Hal­i­fax’s De­sign Re­view Com­mit­tee with a pro­posal pack­age. Af­ter mak­ing some changes, a pub­lic con­sul­ta­tion on Nov. 27 is the next step.

“The Mar­itime Cen­tre has a unique op­por­tu­nity, in that it’s a cen­tre ice location in the mid­dle of Hal­i­fax’s in­no­va­tion dis­trict,” Steve Hodg­son, chief op­er­at­ing of­fi­cer of Slate said in an in­ter­view, ref­er­enc­ing the Volta Labs tech hub in the build­ing.

“We’re try­ing to move away from peo­ple as­so­ci­at­ing it with just go­ing to get their pass­port re­newed, to mak­ing it a place where they can in­ter­act and so­cial­ize and sort of live, work, and play.”

Hodg­son said the project fits in well with the new de­vel­op­ment hap­pen­ing on Spring Gar­den Road like the Cen­tral Li­brary, and this will help “an­chor” the busy street onto Bar­ring­ton.

Key de­sign fea­tures in­clude a new en­trance pavil­ion on Bar­ring­ton with win­dows bring­ing in more nat­u­ral light, new seat­ing ar­eas, and new coloured glass in the en­trance to com­ple­ment the stained glass of the neigh­bour­ing St. Matthew’s United Church.

There would also be a garage ex­pan­sion with a new exit-only park­ing garage door open­ing onto Sal­ter, and about 100 new park­ing spa­ces.

To mit­i­gate the buf­fet­ing wind tun­nel ef­fect many pedes­tri­ans have brought up over the years, the re­design sug­gests cre­at­ing a cor­nice over­hang on Sal­ter and Bar­ring­ton that would act as a lid to cap­ture air flow­ing down the face of the build­ing and force it to break higher up the fa­cade — “not at side­walk level.”

Hodg­son said since Slate was able to buy the cen­tre in 2015 “well be­low the re­place­ment cost” of putting up a new struc­ture, they’re able to make the build­ing “like new” but with the ben­e­fits of “re­vamp­ing and reimag­in­ing an old iconic build­ing right in cen­tral Hal­i­fax.”

Af­ter pub­lic con­sul­ta­tion, and if the pro­posal passes the next steps through the city, Hodg­son said con­struc­tion would ide­ally start in spring 2018 and last about 18 months.

For those wary of even more down­town con­struc­tion cre­at­ing is­sues in Hal­i­fax, Hodg­son said they’ve done traf­fic stud­ies and this would be “less dis­rup­tive” than build­ing a new tower, al­though it’s hard to know spe­cific de­tails un­til the re­design is fi­nal­ized.

It ties in well with where the city’s go­ing in terms of tech busi­ness and in­no­va­tion. Steve Hodg­son

Con­trib­uted/ar­chi­tec­ture49

A ren­der­ing of the Mar­itime Cen­tre re­design look­ing from spring Gar­den Road

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