Proposed Maritime Centre redesign would address wind tunnel, streetscape
The upgrade would see new entrances on Barrington and Salter as well as a garage expansion and new overhang for wind mitigation.
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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 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 streetscaping 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 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 making 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, but it’s hard to know specific construction details until the redesign is finalized.
Open house: A public consultation on the redesign will be held Nov. 27, 7-9 p.m., in the Maritime Centre lobby at 1505 Barrington St.