The full masterplan for Fort Needham Memorial Park balances community uses with interpretive elements that tell the story of the 1917 Halifax Explosion.
A legacy remembered 100 years later
In 1917, the collision of two ships in the Halifax Harbour resulted in an unprecedented explosion— the largest before the advent of nuclear weapons—that dramatically changed the history of a city and country. With an upcoming 100th Anniversary of the Halifax Explosion, the city felt it was an opportunity to refresh the park to improve the grounds for the centennial commemoration, and reflect the diversity of current community needs and interests.
In 2014, with the approaching centenary of the Halifax Explosion, the Halifax Regional Municipality commissioned Ekistics to craft a long-range vision and design concept for the park. The team was tasked with balancing the needs of the local community and objectives for improving the park while significantly enhancing the memorial capacity of Fort Needham as an important regional park destination for the city, province and nation.
In the spring of 2016, Ekistics Planning & Design was hired to complete the detailed design for the implementation
of the first phase of the masterplan for Fort Needham Park. The detailed design strikes a balance between ceremonial, interpretive, and recreational / everyday functions, incorporating elements of the Halifax Explosion narrative into the landscape.
Material choices such as cor-ten steel, precast concrete, and wood are used throughout the site, in well thought-out details that reference the ships that collided on December 6, 1917. Improved circulation throughout the site makes the site more accessible for all users. A new plaza around the 1984 Bell Tower monument provides an improved gathering place for the annual explosion ceremony that takes place at the park.
Finally, interpretive lighting on the Bell Tower conveys the explosion narrative through colour and undulating light on a nightly basis.
2016–17 (detailed design & phase 1 construction)
masterplanning, landscape architecture, interpretive planning & design
Halifax Regional Municipality
Halifax, Nova Scotia
2017 - Atlantic Planning Institute: Award of Planning Excellence, Physical Plans & Design
2018 - Applied Arts Magazine: Community Award
2018 - Halifax Urban Design Awards: Award for Excellence in Civic Design
2018 - BOCSIes: Premier Award, Unique Signs