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Queen's Marque

MacKay-Lyons Sweetapple Architects Ltd

Halifax, NS, Canada

March 2023


MacKay-Lyons Sweetapple Architects (Design Architects, Urban Design, Interior Design lobbies, core, and residences)


Armour Group Limited with Bird Construction (Developer and Builder), FBM Architects, George Cotaras and Wayne Duncan (Prime Consultant), Fathom Studio and Brackish Design Studio (Landscape Architecture), Cambell Comeau Engineering Limited (Structural Engineer), Studio Munge (Interior Design for Muir Hotel


Armour Group Limited (Scott Armour McCrea)


Nic Lehoux


According to Brian MacKay-Lyons, “Our goal was to create a ‘people place’. To us, this is a larger scale home, where the new central square is the living room of the city.” Queen’s Marque is conceived as a district rather than a building. Spanning 41,800 square meters, the site’s programming includes offices, shops, seven restaurants, rental apartments as well as Halifax’s first 5-star luxury hotel, The Muir. Two-thirds of Queen’s Marque is allocated to public space. This is felt through the porosity of the complex, as the users come and go out of the space’s multiple passageways.
MacKay-Lyons Sweetapple Architects, best known for its dedication to vernacular architecture, has often drawn inspiration from Nova Scotia’s maritime identity, this project being no different. The “U” shaped, tripartite composition of Queen’s Marque reflects marine forms inspired by the historic ships that once sailed the Atlantic. Efforts were made to draw cultural references at once materially; using local sandstone and nautical metals, formally; abstract boat forms and detailed nautical references and experientially; descending staircase into the harbour (‘Queen’s Landing’) referencing the past, whereas the ascending staircase (‘Rise Again’) showcases the province’s untold future. The entirety of the public space is punctuated with both local and international art that explore the harbour’s history and environmental phenomena.
Queen’s Marque has been designed to meet a LEED Platinum Energy Model and the development saves on cooling costs by using the frigid water of the harbour in a seawater loop that extends 50-feet below grade.


The genesis of Queen’s Marque was born from developer Scott Armour McCrea’s desire to build a significant Canadian landmark that would be created by Nova Scotians, for Nova Scotians. It is about contributing to the urban fabric more than making architectural objects, by rebuilding the waterfront at the original landing place where Halifax began in 1749. Queen’s Marque is designed to enhance the skyline, without overpowering it, to frame views, while creating sheltering courtyards and welcoming public spaces. The development concedes to existing view corridors. On George Street, facing north, it showcases the Halifax Citadel, and to the south, the historic 1913 Cable Wharf. Looking down Prince Street one views the harbour through the steel mesh texture of Tresoldi Studio’s ‘Sail’. Here the complex repairs and completes the pedestrian boardwalk along the shoreline, establishes a protected micro-climate, and gives Halifax a significant public gathering place along the harbour. The 330-foot-long elevated Wallace Sandstone bar form that stretches the length of Lower Water Street between Prince Street and George Street Plaza, knits the complex back together with the city grid. With an elongated sidewalk, a newly introduced protected bike lane and a slanted glass façade, a canyon is made of the arterial street. Contextually dexterous, Queen’s Marque in its chosen materials, formal references, and building scale, merges neatly into its immediate setting and at once becomes one with Halifax’s cityscape.


Queen’s Marque is a modern district in the absolute center of Halifax, establishing itself as an armature for the city’s public life. Halifax’s Department of Tourism has quantified a meaningful increase in visitation to Halifax in correlation with the use of the new district. The Downtown Halifax Business Commission can also quantify extreme increases in pedestrian counts around the district, and an overall increase in people visiting the downtown area. The multitude of mixed uses perfectly express Queen’s Marque as a microcosm of a city’s potential. Public access to over $6 million in art (much of it integrated within the architecture) leave pedestrians perceiving Queen’s Marque with sense of a downtown art district. The embedded Nova Scotian cultural and historic storytelling throughout the project have provided resonance with tourists and pride of place with locals, realizing the project’s ambition to be truly “born of this place.” Everything from marriage proposals and weddings on the open amphitheater to citizenship ceremonies for new Canadians on our July 1st birthday, take place in the central courtyard. Queen’s Landing is remarkably the only place one can access the ocean from the Halifax waterfront, while telling the exact level of our tides at any given time of day. The Rise Again building, in particular the Tidal Beacon activated art piece, makes physical the gusts of our winds. Both serve as a constant reminder to Haligonians of their relation to the sea. The district is the height of a true modern vernacular for Halifax.

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