Major Construction Projects
NSCAD University has three small campuses in downtown Halifax—the Fountain Campus is made up of 19 interconnected former Victorian merchant shops; the Academy Campus is a charming 19th century building that was once a high school; and the Port Campus is a sleek converted warehouse overlooking the Halifax waterfront.
NSCAD’s Facilities Management department provides complete project delivery services for renovation work to all of the university’s buildings, which at times involves major capital construction projects.
unified campus at the halifax seaport
Reuniting NSCAD’s community in a purpose-built, accessible and iconic creative facility
NSCAD University has signed a long-term agreement with the Halifax Port Authority (HPA) to create an accessible, unified campus that will be the cornerstone of the vibrant creative and social district at the Halifax Seaport.
Reuniting NSCAD’s community in one location at the Seaport will help leading-edge artistic pursuits and cultural exchanges engage the community and encourage response. Creating a stronger sense of community will also promote equity, diversity and inclusion, and enhance organizational and operational sustainability.
The leased spaces at Shed 22 and 23 will add approximately 100,000 square feet to NSCAD’s existing footprint at Port Campus to better serve the spatial and programmatic needs of the art school’s vision for the future.
While the agreement with HPA is a bold and foundational first step, there is much engagement and planning work ahead with the NSCAD community before any aspect of design begins, and all aspects of the project will evolve over the coming years. The timing of actual construction is pending the project’s financial plan.
Listen to NSCAD President Dr. Peggy Shannon talk about a unified campus from the newly leased Shed 22.
Unified Campus FAQs
For quite some time, NSCAD knew the potential to reunite NSCAD’s campuses in one location would create a stronger sense of community, promote equity, diversity and inclusion, and enhance organizational and operational sustainability.
A unified campus at the Halifax Seaport will help leading-edge artistic pursuits and cultural exchanges engage the broader community and encourage its response. NSCAD also realizes its Fountain and Academy Campuses will not be able to meet Nova Scotia’s new accessibility legislation by 2030 without prohibitive costs.
Since January 2021, Colliers Project Leaders worked with NSCAD to undertake a facility option analysis that guided our negotiations specific to this agreement with the Halifax Port Authority over the past 10 months or so along with other due diligence measures.
Our current Port Campus location offers the greatest opportunity to reunite our community in an accessible, sustainable and iconic campus in the coming years. The Halifax Port Authority’s commitment to community engagement and activating its working waterfront aligns well with NSCAD’s vision to dream big and make creativity ground zero for placemaking in a single location that will:
- optimize space utilization for greater occupancy
- create state of the art studio spaces for teaching and research
- improve accessibility for learning, teaching and research spaces
- promote equity, diversity, and inclusion through improved collaboration with students, faculty, and staff
- improve organizational and operational sustainability
NSCAD’s Board of Governors includes students, faculty and alumni representatives in its membership, and the Board voted to approve the lease. We have a responsibility to our students and faculty to improve building accessibility and sustainability, while creating a rich, positive, experience for all members of the academic community.
Much like the current Port Campus renovation project already underway, we are committed to ensuring our future home is purpose-built. Throughout the project, NSCAD will continue to engage our faculty, staff, students and stakeholders to inform how the evolving space will be used for classes, studios and common areas.
The terms of the lease are not publicly disclosed.
Securing the space to develop a unified campus is the first, essential step. Many elements including design and overall cost have not been finalized and there is a lot of planning and work ahead of us before such matters will be shared. That said, NSCAD students, faculty and staff can be confident they will be consulted and continually engaged throughout the process to ensure our future unified campus at the Halifax Seaport is purpose built, accessible and sustainable.
It will take some years to develop the plans and work schedule to create a unified campus at the Halifax Seaport, so there’s no current timeline for when we expect to vacate our other two campuses. Of course, everything must be complete by 2030 when provincial legislation will require all public buildings to be fully accessible.
We currently have a renovation project underway at our existing Port Campus that will eventually relocate our jewellery, textile and fashion studios relocate from the Fountain Campus, bringing all craft departments under one roof. While this project advances, we will continue to plan for an efficient and thoughtful full transition to our future home at the Halifax Seaport.
Student housing is an issue that is top of mind for all post secondary institutions in Halifax and indeed in Nova Scotia. While today’s announcement does not include infrastructure dedicated to student housing, NSCAD remains optimistic that recent discussions between Nova Scotia universities, the Government of Nova Scotia and other parties will result in initiatives to help alleviate housing pressures for our students.
While the government of Nova Scotia is an important and valued source of funding for the university, this agreement between NSCAD and the Halifax Port Authority did not specifically require any financial assistance from the province or other levels of government.
Port Campus Renovation Project
Existing Port Campus
NSCAD announced in May 2021 it selected Moriyama and Teshima Architects to lead its Port Campus renovation project in collaboration with local firm Fathom Studio. The project will allow NSCAD to move programming from the Fountain Campus to the Port Campus ahead of the Province of Nova Scotia’s accessibility legislation that will require all public buildings to be fully accessible by 2030 (not a practical reality for the Fountain Campus’s Victorian mercantile buildings).
The firm is leading NSCAD through the project’s plan and design that will optimize space utility, improve building accessibility and sustainability, and help create a rich, positive experience for all members of the academic community.
The project includes relocating jewellery, textile and fashion studios from the Fountain Campus to the Port Campus, which will bring all craft departments under one roof. The university’s ongoing consultations with its faculty, staff, students and stakeholders continue to inform the evolving space usage for classes, studios and common use areas.
Feedback from this engagement is helping to shape the project’s ongoing planning and design work. Some of the current concepts for the renovation are shown below (for reference only, not actual construction).