The Fountain Gift: The Next Phase
March 16, 2015

The $3-million gift to NSCAD University from Margaret and David Fountain is living up to its transformative promise.

In recognition of the significant gift, NSCAD’s downtown location was named the “Fountain Campus,” and plans are now in process to shape major improvements to enhance the student experience at the campus—“a motley collection of buildings,” in the words of Margaret Fountain, with “distinctive character” and the “ability to enhance creative expression.”

Since the fall, consultations have been held with the NSCAD community to discuss improvements to enhance the student experience at the Fountain Campus. Following  those discussions, the principles for the design brief were further defined by NSCAD’s Academic Resources Committee, chaired by the Dean, Dr. Ann-Barbara Graff, and a highly competitive RFP process was launched.

Architects chosen
The project took a major step forward with the selection of architectural design consultant Lydon Lynch Architects, approved at a special meeting of the Board of Governors earlier this month. Principal Eugene Pieczonka has extensive experience working both in the post-secondary sector and with heritage buildings. Other projects undertaken by the firm include the Marion McCain Building and an addition to the Dal SUB (student union building), both at Dalhousie University, RBC’s Waterside Centre, and the TD Tower redevelopment which incorporates a heritage building.

“NSCAD’s historical buildings have great bones, character, history and memory,” said Eugene Pieczonka at Lydon Lynch’s offices, located in the Seaport Farmer’s Market, which is one of the beautiful buildings the firm has designed. “We’re very excited about this project and want the generosity of the gift to be expressed and utilized to its full potential. The key will be to be strategic with what we do to the benefit of the campus experience.”

To that end, Lydon Lynch will be further developing four planning scenarios for the Fountain Campus each featuring four key areas for improvement: the Anna Leonowens Gallery; the student lounge; the creation of a library learning commons; and improvement of the main entrance on Duke Street.  All of the four scenarios incorporate the key areas to a greater or lesser degree.

Consultative process

With the end of the winter 2015 semester in sight, consultations to further tease out the four scenarios, set priorities and establish what’s possible within the budget will begin immediately. Meetings with the architect and the Academic Resource Committee are scheduled bi-weekly, beginning on Monday, March 16th and running to the end of the winter semester.

To continue the momentum, a new group, “Architectural Design: Student Experience Advisory Group,” will convene starting in May. NSCAD is seeking participation from 10 people to represent key stakeholder groups, including students, staff, faculty, alumni and the Board of Governors, for the group. Feedback from the NSCAD community will also be solicited through an online survey and individual interviews.


By the end of April, preliminary designs for each of the four planning scenarios will be ready and on-site investigations to verify existing building conditions will have begun. By the end of June, a preferred scenario will be selected, with final drawings completed and construction tendering documents prepared by the end of 2015. Construction is expected to take place next summer (end of April to September 2016), and be completed in time for the beginning of the fall 2016 semester.

“The consultation process is very important in that it will allow us to hit the ground running and establish priorities in the event the budget isn’t sufficient to tackle all four priority areas to the extent initially expressed,” said Mr. Pieczonka. “But you never know, we may uncover another approach that allows us to do more with less.”

The 80-week project has a $1.5 million price tag—half of the Fountain gift. The other half has been dedicated to critical health and safety updates at the Fountain Campus.

More on the Consultation Process
As NSCAD continues the planning of important student experience enhancements at the Fountain campus, a group of interested NSCAD community members is being assembled.

Participation on the “Architectural Design: Student Experience Project Advisory Group” is voluntary. The group will meet bi-weekly on Tuesdays from 12 noon to 1 review, discuss and provide input into the design of the Fountain Campus student experience upgrades. The group will begin meeting at the beginning of May, continuing over the summer.

The aim is to assemble a group of 10 people representing key stakeholders groups, including students, staff, faculty, Board of Governors and alumni.

Please contact Maureen Halstead,, if interested in being a part of the group.

Project Schedule

  • Phase 1: Pre-Design, meetings with Academic Resources Committee – March and April 2015
  • Phase 2: Schematic Design: prepare preliminary designs for four planning scenarios, meet with NSCAD stakeholders, conduct site investigations, prepare draft “Functional Program”, convene “Architectural Design: Student Experience Advisory Group” – April to June 2015
  • Phase 3: Prepare drawings, specs – July to November 2015
  • Phase 4: Tender and pre-construction – December 2015 to April 2016
  • Phase 5: Construction – May to end August 2016