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QEII Parking Garage
Halifax, NS
Infrastructure beautifies the public realm
By Jamie Van Dyke
Parking garages are often seen as functional, utilitarian structures, but the QEII Health Sciences Centre Street parkade in Halifax aimed to challenge that perception. This collaborative design-build project with Lindsey Construction sought to fulfill specific programmatic goals set by the province while transforming a conventional parking garage into a work of art and a community-enhancing space. One of the project’s standout features was the significant design alterations made to the original plan. The design build team rotated the building by 90 degrees, simplifying pedestrian connections across Summer Street. This change in orientation demonstrated a commitment to making the structure more user-friendly and integrated into the surrounding environment.
However, what truly set the QEII project apart was its innovative approach to incorporating public art into the parking structure. Our team presented teaser renderings that showcased imaginative ideas, including one inspired by genome sequencing and another paying tribute to healthcare workers during the COVID-19 pandemic. These concepts aimed to infuse the parking garage with a unique and artistic identity, challenging the conventional notion of parking garages in a community.
A competitive process was initiated to select an artist to bring these artistic visions to life. This process, supported by Nova Scotia’s public art consultant, culminated in choosing an artist who skillfully replicated textiles from Nova Scotia’s rich history. Using photographs as references, the artist wove these historical elements into the fabric of the parking garage’s design, ensuring that the structure told a meaningful story about the region. Our team set out to respect and enhance nearby public areas, ultimately aiming to impact the community positively. One significant outcome of these efforts was the creation of pocket parks in front of the Natural History Museum. These unexpected spaces served as outdoor gathering areas for museum visitors and the broader community, enriching the local environment.
Our design was intended to demonstrate the power of innovation and creativity in transforming essential infrastructure into meaningful community enhancements. By challenging conventional norms and infusing the parking garage with art, and community friendly features, the project serves as a testament to the potential of design-build initiatives to redefine how we interact with our built
Jamie Van Dyke is the Business Unit Leader, Architecture at Walterfedy.
By Andrew LeVatte
The 440 car eight-level precast concrete garage will replace the existing garage located at the front of the Halifax Infirmary on Robie Street which is slated for demolition to make way for the QEII Next Generation Health Care Expansion. The exterior of the replacement garage was made using grey cement with the exterior spandrels and columns having a light sandblast finish. The stairwells were enclosed with precast concrete panels on the interior two sides and glazing on the two exterior elevations. The main stairwell is heated so insulated precast concrete panels were used, which are loadbearing on two sides of the stairwell.
Strescon Limited provided 462 precast prestressed concrete elements consisting of: 221, 3.65-metre wide (12ft.) double tees; 22 litewalls with grillage; 15 shear walls; 24 columns (due to the overall height of the garage all columns had to be spliced in two); 13 Inverted Tee Beams; 75 loadbearing spandrels and 10 nonloadbearing spandrels; eight interior solid stair panels; 40 insulated stair panels; and finally, 26 stairs with landings plus eight solid elevator slabs. Corbec Inc. provided the galvanizing for this project which included structural steel embedded bearing connections in the double tees, litewalls, shearwalls, columns, spandrels and inverted T-Beams, as well as the galvanizing of the steel in the stairwells and the steel roof.
Litewalls and shearwalls provide stability for a parking structure. The litewall is located in the centre of a two-bay garage and provides stability in the longitudinal direction plus supports the double tee decks. The shearwalls are usually located at the ends of the litewalls and provide stability in the transverse direction. Both structural members usually have openings in the walls to provide a more pleasant user experience. Sika Canada supplied joint caulking between the double tees and JVI supplied its Vector connectors for shear and alignment of the double tee deck, and its slotted insert systems cast into the precast concrete panels to connect them to other precast concrete components of the garage.
Some interesting facts about the garage:
  • The garage is partially clad with stainless steel grillage which provides an aesthetic ‘mask’. The grillage was laser etched with images according to the design of a local artist selected in a competition.
  • The grillage fixed to the exterior of the garage reduced the air flow through the garage to below the 25 percent free air minimum so, to compensate, two elevations of the garage had the exterior non-loadbearing spandrels removed and replaced with five rows of strand cables. The strand cables act as the bumper stops and the stainless-steel grillage act as the guardrails on the open ends.
  • The garage has a steel roof connected to precast prestressed concrete spandrel panels which hide the roof from view while also helping to support it. About 25 percent of the roof is accessible through an opening in the litewall and precast concrete stairs. The remaining portion of the roof is designed to handle the weight of photovoltaic modules scheduled for later installation.
Andrew LeVatte is with Strescon Limited.
PHOTOS Dean Casavechia (photos 1, 2 and 6) and Strescon Limited (photos 3, 4 and 5)
Nova Scotia Lands
BMR Structural Engineering
Lindsay Construction
Precast Supplier:
Strescon Limited
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