New Halifax Art Gallery: The Finalists


Throughout the summer of 2020, 3 consultant teams made up of local, national, and international architecture and design firms, worked to create concepts for a new gallery at the vacant Salter Block on the Halifax Waterfront. The gallery is meant to be a centre piece of the new Halifax Waterfront Art’s District, which will also include space for public gatherings, and space for future development – with a potential NSCAD expansion. The 140,000 square foot gallery is expected to cost $140 million, with $70 million coming from the province, $30 million from the federal government, and $40 million raised by the gallery through a capital campaign. Construction is set to begin in mid-2021, with completion in 2024. A panel of judges, including a landscape architect, artists, and museum professionals will select the winning design in early October.

Here are the 3 finalists:

Architecture49, Diller Schofidio + Renfro, and Hargreaves Jones

Architecture49’s team put forth an open-concept design on a large, stilted platform. The raised gallery design allows for an unobstructed sightline from the street to the harbour, sheltered pedestrian space, and protection from coastal erosion and flooding. The concept also includes a grove of local trees, a large lawn space, a permanent outdoor stage, a boardwalk and floating barge with public art, and a rooftop viewing terrace.

DIALOG, Acre Architects, Brackish Design Studio, and Shannon Webb-Campbell

DIALOG’s team presented a whale and fog inspired design, with an arch that would create a covered outdoor event space as well as an underground freshwater stream flowing from Salter Street. Also included in the design are a driftwood-inspired park, a children’s play area with hanging buoys, and a salon focused on Black Nova Scotian beauty skills.

KPMB Architects, Omar Gandhi Architect, Jordan Bennett Studio, Elder Lorraine Whitman, Public Work, and Transsolar

KPMB Architects presented a design inspired by the culture and symbols of the Mi’kmaq people. The harbourside of the building is designed to resemble an eel, while the Lower Water Street side is shaped to resemble the peaked hats worn by Mi’kmaq matriarchs. The concept would separate the outer harbour from an inner lagoon, with the intention to allow swimming, research areas, and plenty of outdoor gathering spaces.