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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. 


STATUS

2014–15 (masterplan)
2016–17 (detailed design & phase 1 construction)

TYPE

masterplanning, landscape architecture, interpretive planning & design

    CLIENT

    Halifax Regional Municipality

     

     

    LOCATION

    Halifax, Nova Scotia

    AWARDS

    2018
    Applied Arts Magazine - Community Award

    2018
    Halifax Urban Design Awards - Award for Excellence in Civic Design

    2017
    Atlantic Planning Institute - Award of Planning Excellence, Physical Plans & Design


     A path follows the radius of the blast from the 1917 Explosion, and overlooks the Hydrostone area - a neighbourhood that was a direct result of rebuilding efforts.

    A path follows the radius of the blast from the 1917 Explosion, and overlooks the Hydrostone area - a neighbourhood that was a direct result of rebuilding efforts.

    In the spring of 2016, Ekistics Plan + Design was hired to complete the detailed design for the implementation of the first phase of the masterplan. Continuing on the work done in the masterplan, the ideas were further analyzed against site conditions and the concept refined. 

    Cor-ten steel elements are featured throughout the park referencing the debris that littered the City of Halifax following the 1917 explosion. Form: Media used these steel walls as part of the larger interpretive story for the Park. The walls feature cut outs detailing the story of the Halifax Explosion and the rebuild that followed.

    During the summer of 2017 construction of the first phase of the masterplan was completed.

    The design and construction work for Phase 1 addressed improvements to the park entrances and access to the Bell Tower; improvements to the Halifax Explosion Memorial Bell Tower plaza area for the annual ceremonies; upgrades to the lighting the monument and park lighting, and commemorative features and interpretive elements integrated throughout.

    During the detailed design phase the design developed during the master plan evolved. New renderings were created to illustrate the vision for the new park. 

    All photos ©Scotty Sherin, graphics ©Ekistics Plan + Design

    The 2014 master plan analyzes the surrounding context of the park as well as the historical impact of the explosion. 


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