Former abandoned power plant adapted to become environmentally responsible headquarters for provincial power authority
The Nova Scotia Power (NSP) Corporate Headquarters site occupies a prominent location in downtown Halifax, with significant frontage on the public boardwalk that lines the western edge of Halifax harbour. The project involved the retention and adaptive reuse of a former power generating plant to become the headquarters for the provincial electrical utility. The facility houses over 500 staff in approximately 18,000 gross square metres and provides parking for 150 cars. The project used an innovative construction strategy that involved the reuse of the existing steel structure and exterior concrete cladding, in conjunction with the insertion of floors within the existing volume. Originally designed to support coal bins and turbines, the structure and foundations were robust enough to support the new floors.
The main public entrance on Lower Water Street, leads into a five-storey atrium that connects the neighbourhood to the waterfront, offering spectacular views of the harbour. A secondary axis in the form of a two-to-four-storey galleria provides an interior street that parallels the boardwalk for the entire length of the building. These public spaces and the openness of views they provide, promote casual interaction between employees. Glazed inter-floor stairs on the building perimeter, and exterior balconies at the atrium, keep users in contact with the harbour. In a gesture to the memory of the building’s initial use the original steel structure has been retained and featured. Skylights sit in the base of former chimney stacks along the roof of the galleria. The former power plant, previously considered an eye sore in the local community has become an attractive downtown landmark for all citizens. The project is the starting point of Halifax’s boardwalk, and provides employees and the public access to the harbour. The boardwalk enhancement will include a café with a patio and a large open green space consisting of native species plants. As the provincial power authority, NSP wishes to demonstrate environmental responsibility and show leadership in energy conservation.
The unique adaptive reuse of the building will be a visible statement of the corporation’s commitment to sustainability. As a LEED Platinum candidate, the building is among the most sustainable buildings in the country. The building will represent the first major use of “chilled beam” technology in Canada. The system utilizes (low energy sea) water rather than air to transport cooling thereby lowering energy consumption. Additional energy saving strategies include supplemental heating for both the building and hot water with the use of solar thermal panels.