Fixing the 'notorious' wind: Maritime Centre project approved with condition
Halifax Regional Municipality's Design Review Committee unanimously supported the plan.
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The Maritime Centre’s face-lift, expected to lessen the impact of wind on a major downtown Halifax street, was approved by the municipality’s Design Review Committee on Thursday.
The plan for 1505 Barrington St., submitted by WSP Canada on behalf of SLATE Asset Management, the real-estate investment trust that owns the building, was approved unanimously.
When the 22-storey tower was built in the 1970s, the effect of wind from tall buildings didn’t factor into development decision-making. Buildings going up now are required to have podiums to catch and divert the wind blowing down from towers like the Maritime Centre.
Municipal planning staff and the project’s lead designer, Ron Burdock, described the current wind conditions as “notorious,” and Burdock said wind on part of the sidewalk on Barrington Street is actually dangerous during certain times of the year.
The addition adds a three-storey podium, and a study found that it would improve wind conditions around the building, making the area more comfortable for pedestrians.
The addition will add two ground floor lobbies, one on Barrington Street and one around the corner on Salter Street, along with retail and restaurant space, and 100 new underground parking spaces for tenants.
HRM planning staff recommended the Design Review Committee approve the design of the project, but with one condition: that a proposed parking garage exit being added to the Salter Street side of the building, which is a pedestrian entrance now, be modified to include a “distinctive architectural treatment” to enhance the view from Granville Street.
The latest design includes a “vertically slotted projection” above the garage door, but municipal staff said it’s not good enough, calling it “a lost opportunity for a signature or landmark architectural treatment/feature in this location.”
The Design Review Committee disregarded staff’s recommended condition.
Instead, it replaced it with a condition that public art or some other kind of architectural treatment be added to the blank concrete wall between the garage door and the corner of Barrington and Salter streets.
“I think Barrington Street is lovely,” said committee vice-chair Colin Duggan.
The Salter Street side, not so much.
“There’s something that’s missing from that, and I don’t know if it’s necessarily glass or steel or kind of tricky architectural features. I think there’s a texture that’s not there,” Duggan said.
The committee also added a non-binding recommendation to consider adding a commercial space next to the garage door – something Burdock said was all but impossible.
SLATE told Metro last year that construction could begin this spring, and is expected to take 18 months.
Correction: An earlier version of this story referred to Colin Duggan as the Design Review Commitee co-chair. In fact, he's the vice-chair. Metro regrets the error.