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Block-size development will transform downtown Halifax

Plans to transform an entire city block in downtown Halifax, Nova Scotia have been unveiled. Spanning an area bounded by Granville, George, Hollis and Duke streets, a new 500,000-sq. ft. twin tower development known as "22nd Commerce Square"...


Architectural rendering of 22nd Commerce Square to be built on a block in downtown Halifax. View shows building at George and Granville Streets. Lydon Lynch Architects
Architectural rendering of 22nd Commerce Square to be built on a block in downtown Halifax. View shows building at George and Granville Streets. Lydon Lynch Architects

Plans to transform an entire city block in downtown Halifax, Nova Scotia have been unveiled. Spanning an area bounded by Granville, George, Hollis and Duke streets, a new 500,000-sq. ft. twin tower development known as “22nd Commerce Square” will incorporate the facades of several historic buildings.

To be constructed between 2015-2018, 22nd Commerce Square is being developed by the Thiel family (“22nd” is a reference to the next century and the family’s commitment to creating buildings that endure). The Thiel family has diverse interests in Nova Scotia and already has substantial properties in Halifax’s downtown.

The new complex will include 88 condominiums, a boutique hotel, 200,000 square feet of Class A office space, street level retail and parking for 300 vehicles. It will also have public spaces, including a 3,000 sq.ft. central, public atrium.

To make way for the new development an entire block of existing buildings have to be vacated and some buildings will be demolished. There are five designated heritage buildings. One, the main Bank of Commerce Building in the Greek Classic Revival architectural style, will be retained and its banking hall restored. It will become a small conference centre. The interiors of the other heritage buildings will be demolished, but their facades will be restored and incorporated into the new development as part of the streetscape design.

The design by Lydon Lynch Architects will be unified by a “ribbon wall” inspired by a mobius strip, “bringing each component under a single architectural identity.” Structural engineering is being done by a local firm, Pinto Engineering, and mechanical-electrical engineering is by Integral of Toronto.

A historic preservation consultant is to assess the condition of the facades and propose how each can be preserved during the construction. For example, glazed, white terra cotta tiles on the facade of the Merchant’s Bank of Canada Building on Granville Street will be fully restored.

For the new towers, the goal is to achieve LEED platinum (core and shell) certification for environmental design. The designers plan to achieve this using geothermal heating and cooling, heat recovery from sewage waste, photovoltaic panels and solar hot water panels, and a rainwater collection system.