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Former eyesore on Halifax waterfront becomes gleaming HQ

Decommissioned coal-fired power plant becomes an attractive downtown landmark for all citizens and a modern headquarters for Nova Scotia Power Inc.

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For 30 years, the old coal-fired generating station at the foot of Morris Street in Halifax was a fenced-off empty eyesore. Today, the repurposed building boasts spectacular views of the city’s harbour for 620 employees of Nova Scotia Power Inc.

Greg Richardson/Courtesy of WZMH Architects

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Where smokestacks once emerged, as seen in this file photo, skylights now dot the building’s roof. The utility has owned the property for more than a century-and-a-half.

RPM Productions/Courtesy of Nova Scotia Power

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The building is located on prime waterfront real estate in downtown Halifax; local stakeholders believe its redevelopment will attract more potential suitors to the area to develop other projects.

Courtesy of WZMH Architects

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A pedestrian bridge connects the headquarters to Lower Water Street, giving the public access to the building’s atrium.

Tom Arban/Courtesy of WZMH Architects

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The building team cleaved the building’s walls – in places, nearly a metre thick – to make way for windows, letting light pour in. The public can descend a set of stairs from the atrium to access the boardwalk, where cruise ships dock in the summertime.

Greg Richardson/Courtesy of WZMH Architects

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Open-concept design, skylights and strategically located meeting areas allow employees to interact, collaborate and share ideas in well-lit, non-traditional spaces.

Tom Arban/Courtesy of WZMH Architects

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The harbour is more accessible than ever: the glass atrium now cuts through what was once a fenced-off concrete obelisk, allowing a view through the building to the harbour. The project won a 2013 Brownie award for excellence in building-scale redevelopment from the Canadian Urban Institute. The brownfield awards recognize progress in transforming contaminated industrial sites into “great places.”

Greg Richardson/Courtesy of WZMH Architects

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The building team gutted much of what was left of the original structure and carefully inserted floorplates before cutting the concrete walls to let light in, eventually cladding it with a new exterior curtain wall and windows. The original steel columns still line the public atrium and galleria space. “We wanted to retain the memory of the original use of the building, but also give a unique feel to the public space,” says Carl Blanchaer, WZMH Architects’s design principal for the project.

Tom Arban/Courtesy of WZMH Architects

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Projecting a modern glass face, the building fronts on the water, replacing a fenced-off concrete eyesore. The headquarters is “a wonderful new symbol of downtown development,” says Colin MacLean, chief executive of Nova Scotia’s Waterfront Development Corp. “It’s bringing back life on the waterfront.” Read more at link below: Halifax power station’s old bones get new heart

Tom Arban/Courtesy of WZMH Architects

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