Introducing Queen’s Marque: A Project Born of This Place

On May 9th, 2016 The Armour Group Limited (The Armour Group) and Waterfront Development unveiled the Queen’s Marque district, a project shaped by the distinct character and marked experience of this province and its people. With a strong deference to our region’s origins, Queen’s Marque tells the story of Nova Scotia through form and place employing design, architecture, materials, and art to convey both our heritage and a forward looking sentiment that honours the experience of being Nova Scotian.

The event was held at the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic and attracted entrepreneurs, local business representatives, Government Officials and city enthusiasts who are passionate about our region and its future. Guest heard Scott McCrea speak on his inspiration for Queen’s Marque and his passion for creating a truly unique and locally inspired District on our Waterfront.

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Named after the Queen’s Letter’s of Marque, the monarchy’s authority to legally claim bounty and establish settlements, the name symbolizes a return to a time of reaching out into the world and seizing opportunities. Queen’s Marque is located on the Halifax Waterfront, to the east of Lower Water Street and bounded by George Street, running south to Prince Street. The site covers almost five acres at the very centre point of the city. Known historically as Queen’s Landing, and steeped in a rich military, marine, and mercantile history, the location is rooted in the fierce independence that defines the Maritime spirit.

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The lived experience of Nova Scotia is reflected in the architecture and design of the over 450,000 square foot Queen’s Marque district, united with a progressive outlook for a prosperous future here. The inspiration for Queen’s Marque began with marine forms, the grand sweep of a vessel, the graceful bend of a bow, and aimed to elevate something utilitarian into something beautiful. The main forms, adorned in copper and glass, protrude through the Lower Water Street façade, where they support a sandstone bar, as if carrying the cargo of Nova Scotia high above the ground. The floating sandstone form is articulated with a series of projecting and angled ‘chocks’, providing support and a sense of anchoring. Wharf vernacular and ship shapes in the buildings are communicated through contemporary architectural choices, which speak to Nova Scotia’s shipbuilding past, present, and future.

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Contextual and solid materials honour the district’s surroundings and are grounded within the downtown. The use of Sandstone references the iconic buildings in the city core and the workmanship ingrained in our past; the granite apron evokes the rocky coast and a familiar rugged character without flash; while copper, reimagines the oil-can hull of marine vessels and speaks to the copper cables used historically at cable wharf. Layered into these materials are subconscious expressions of a shared maritime experience. The forms and materials are overtly “born of this place”.

Above all, the district of Queen’s Marque is for the public. A driving ethos of the project is ‘democracy of place’, where the community can embrace, and feel an ownership over the space. The design balances the relationship between built form and open public spaces as essential and reciprocal, each informing and responding to the other. New landscaped squares will be created at George Street and Prince Street, enhancing the waterfront experience. Most notably, expansive gates above the boardwalk, and several intimate passages from Lower Water Street, referred to as ‘Between the Hulls’, open onto a grand European-style central plaza. In total, 75,000 square feet of public space will be created.

Off of the large central plaza in the middle of the District is the ‘Rise Again’ wharf building. ‘Rise Again’ is a gradually rising pier building, breaching the waves of the harbour and suggesting a consistent motif of resiliency in our culture marked by the famous lyrics of icons like The Rankins and Stan Rogers. ‘Rise Again’ is scalable and creates a natural amphitheater for community use. The unique structure acts as a symbol of Nova Scotia rising again today. At its apex is the yet to-be-named and designed “harbour light” art installation – a proud and emblematic piece which is intended to allow people to enter, climb and interact as part of a glowing art piece.

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Next to the ‘Rise Again’ building is a reimagining of the site’s historic slipway, ‘Queen’s Landing’ with granite steps that gently descend into the sea. ‘Queen’s Landing’ allows the public to fulfill the natural inclination to get close to the water. The interplay between ‘Rise Again’ and the reimagined ‘Queen’s Landing’ pays homage to Nova Scotia’s enduring nautical legacy. Art is an integral part of the district’s design. The art created will be inspired by the place-specific stories of the region and embedded into the site. International caliber and emerging local artists will be commissioned to interpret and visually depict the lived experience here.

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Queen’s Marque programming includes areas to work, live, eat, stay and explore. With a distinctly Atlantic Canadian character, the office space is designed to be one of the most progressive AAA buildings in the country. The district’s southern edge features Atlantic Canada’s first luxury class boutique hotel, which shares premium amenities with the rental residences overlooking the Halifax Harbour. The entire ground level of the district, and much of the second floor, is dedicated to numerous food and beverage, retail, and cultural offerings, most with a distinct regional flavour. The destinations of Queen’s Marque will be conveniently served with approximately 300 underground parking stalls. The entire project is fundamentally designed to be sustainable and healthy, maximizing solar heating and minimizing summer heat gain by placing the primary buildings on a north/south axis and shading larger glass sections to the west. The primary heating and cooling systems for the District will use chilled beam and heat pump technology where water is drawn in from the harbour and is circulated throughout Queen’s Marque, creating a comfortable environment while dramatically lowering energy usage.

Queen’s Marque is a deeply local endeavour. Wherever possible, Atlantic Canadian resources are and will be used in order to provide an authentic expression of place. The design is led by the development team at The Armour Group Limited, with primary design architecture from MacKay Lyons Sweetapple Architects Limited and its Principal, Brian MacKay-Lyons. Overall project architecture is led by Fowler Bauld & Mitchell Architecture through its President, George Cotaras.

“The idea of Queen’s Marque is to form an expression of our authentic selves in a modern way; to reflect the broader experience of being Nova Scotian in a manner that connects, inspires, and encourages people to be a part of this place” said Scott Armour McCrea, CEO of The Armour Group Limited.

“Queen’s Marque is an example of the new age of Nova Scotia and together we are building on our competitive advantages in this province for a prosperous future,” said Internal Services Minister Labi Kousoulis. “This project is Nova Scotian to its core and stands up on the world stage.”

“Waterfront Development works to develop Nova Scotia’s highest potential properties to create the optimal combination of private business, public infrastructure and community partners to flourish. This partner and this project are shining examples of what is possible,” said Jennifer Angel, Acting CEO, Waterfront Development. “The Queen’s Marque project is transformative for this place, at once both forward facing and reminiscent, as well as an embodiment of confidence and possibility for Nova Scotia. We applaud the vision and commitment of Armour Group to bring this idea to life.”

Queen’s Marque will represent an almost $200 million private investment in the region with a target completion date in 2019.