2023 Urban Design Awards

Five glass Urban Design Awards trophies of varying municipal colours are lined up against a white background.

About the 2023 Urban Design Awards

Read the 2023 Jury Report here.

The call for submissions to the 2023 Halifax Urban Design Awards closed on March 10, 2023. Thank you to those who submitted applications. The 2023 Urban Design Awards project submissions and winners are included below.

A panel of four independent jurors evaluated the 2023 Urban Design Awards submissions and selected winners in seven categories. The juror biographies are included below.

The designers, developers, sponsors, students and owners of projects selected as award winners received either an Award of Excellence or an Award of Merit. Award of Excellence recipients will be eligible for the National RAIC Urban Design Awards in 2023. The 2023 winners are listed below.


Event Highlights

The 2023 Urban Design Awards ceremony took place on Monday, June 26, 2023, at Paul O'Regan Hall (Halifax Central Library). Attendance was open to the public and a light reception was held after the ceremony.


2023  Project Winners

Housing Solutions Projects


Notes from the Jury

This modular and repeatable design system of small units allows for versatility of deployment; Sprout structures can be fashioned as Accessory Dwelling Units (backyard suites), small primary dwellings or cottages. These modular units expand the number of options available to residents seeking multi-generational and accessible living spaces.

The jury commends the attention to detail involved in the construction of Sprout Dwellings. The contemporary design of the units recognizes the local vernacular, allowing the structures to smoothly blend with the surrounding urban landscape. 

Based on their work so far, it is evident that Sprout prioritizes incorporating both sustainability and affordability in their designs. The jury agrees that this model offers a creative solution for increasing gentle density in the municipality.



Notes from the Jury

The Diamond Bailey Healing Centre addresses the needs of Indigenous and vulnerable members of the community by providing culturally sensitive emergency transitional housing and harm reduction services. The organization's goal of cultivating a space that is safe, welcoming and inclusive for all is reflected in the Indigenous design features and principles that are woven into the architecture. 

The jury pointed out the architects' creative attention to detail and noted the consideration of aging qualities of materials. This structure can be considered a contemporary interpretation of Indigenous heritage, language and materiality of the community that it aims to heal and support. 

The scale and built form of the Diamond Bailey Healing Centre harmonize with the neighbourhood context and surrounding heritage streetscape. Despite its location on a corner lot, the building is sensitive to both street frontages. The structure's fluid exterior and absence of hard edges enhances its warm and welcoming character.


Urban Elements Projects


Notes from the Jury

These urban art structures mark the 100th anniversary of the Halifax Explosion, a difficult and tragic event that forever changed the city's form. However, the Halifax Explosion Markers offer a positive opportunity for people to interact with a devastating moment in Halifax's history. These approachable structures  serve to inform about the thousands of lives lost in the explosion, yet also "speak to the resiliency of the people of Halifax" (from the RHAD Project Summary). 

The jury commended this project on its dynamic use of materials and structural elements, which are perceived differently when viewing the sculptures from various positions in the landscape. The placement of the art pieces create a city-wide narrative that is expressed through their integration in various natural and urban contexts. The Markers invite creative interpretation and allow viewers to, quite literally, reflect on their place within Halifax's past and future. 


Landscape Architecture and Civic Design Projects


Notes from the Jury

This project is recognized by the jury for its positive framing of public space at the waterfront. The open square and 'rise again' plaza enable groups of various sizes to congregate, setting the stage for public life and active programming. 

The integration of public art and interactive infrastructure into the design fosters an interesting dynamic between the space and its visitors. The Queen's Landing piece allows for the continuation of public waterfront access and creates a unique opportunity for people to interact with the Halifax Harbour.



Notes from the Jury

The contemporary design complements the unique coastal views and iconic heritage lighthouse in a way that harmonizes with the location's natural and cultural heritage. 

The structure is cohesive and sensitive to the surrounding context and its materiality is congruent with the natural setting. The jury appreciated elements of the detailing of the design and how the curved lines echo the motion of the waves.

The viewing deck allows views and access up to the edge in a manner that is inclusive and not overpowering to the landscape. It is a great example of barrier free accessibility for all users. 


Urban Architecture Projects


Notes from the Jury

This building was thoughtfully designed to respect and reflect the surrounding built fabric of three very different sides and was recognized for its interaction with the street level, which fosters a neighbourly feel amongst the ground related units. The George's landscape allows for an integration of open spaces at different levels and permeable elevations on each side of the building, including active commercial spaces and ground-oriented units.  

The stepped height of this mixed-use, high density development provides multiple amenity spaces for tenants and incorporates green features through its ground level landscape and rooftop gardens. 

The building's massing and articulation facilitate the transition between low and high density and prevent it from overwhelming the space. The articulation and detailing combine to create a thoughtful, well-integrated building that distinguishes the development from others. 

Albeit tall and large, the structure acknowledges and respects the surrounding neighbourhood and built form. The George demonstrates a sensitive relationship to its community context.


Heritage Adaptive Re-Use Projects


Notes from the Jury

The jury was impressed by the success of this project's restorations. The building, which once served as the Nova Scotia Home for Colored Children, maintains the integrity of its century old structure. Kinney Place now functions as a significant community hub that recognizes the site's history and celebrates African Nova Scotian culture.

Kinney Place plays an important community building role by bringing people together and cultivating empowerment.  Local social support systems are strengthened through the integration of community gardens and programs such as the Intergenerational Centre and spaces for Black owned businesses in the building.

This project is a significant catalyst to sustain not just a past, but a current and future sense of identity for the African Nova Scotian community.


Community Connections & Initiatives Projects


Notes from the Jury

This project animates the Gottingen streetscape through a bespoke and tailored approach. The wooden installations engage and invite people to use the streetscape in various ways: the seating provides diverse conditions for diverse uses by diverse users.

With that being said, the structures remain sensitive to their context and the unique streetscape conditions. The project was anchored in community consultation and serves to tell neighbourhood stories. 

Reimagining Gottingen Street generates awareness about different designers and invites dialogue between designers and the local community.


Student Projects 


Notes from the Jury

This project explores an important topic that needs to be addressed in the design of cities and community facilities.

Nguyen Ha articulates and highlights specific aspects that are important to universal human integrity: access to food, human connections, and social interactions.

The depth of research and analysis conducted for this architectural study effectively informs the design approach. The design exploration and visual language used throughout the project is clear and cohesive. 



2023 Urban Design Awards Jury

Read the 2023 Jury Report here.

An headshot of jury chair Antonio Gomez - Palacio

Antonio Gόmez-Palacio

Urban Design Awards Jury Chair

Partner and Chair, DIALOG – Toronto

Antonio’s mission is to leverage the collective creativity and innovation within DIALOG to continue delivering design solutions to the many challenges we face globally – from climate change and equity to social wellbeing. Antonio’s career has been built at the intersection of design disciplines – with studios in Toronto as well as across Canada in Edmonton, Calgary, and Vancouver, and in San Francisco.

His city-building experience has led him to work across many Ontario municipalities, as well as beyond. He is internationally recognized for creating transformational and vibrant urban spaces that support their social, economic, and environmental setting. He is a sought-after speaker, inspiring public and private sector leaders, to leverage the power of cities and communities towards achieving meaningful impact.


Headshot of Camille Mitchell, architect. Camille is standing with her arms crossed, is wearing a blue shirt and is posing against a beige background.

Camille Mitchell

Architect, SvN Architects and Planners – Toronto

Camille is an architect that brings extensive experience on award-winning projects and leverages this work to cement her reputation as a powerful advocate for under-represented groups to be involved with the design of their built environments. Camille is a founding member of the independent organizations Building Equality in Architecture Toronto and Black Architects + Interior Designer Association. These programs are dedicated to supporting mentorship, networking and leadership opportunities for women and visible minorities within the architecture profession. She was also selected to join the Urban Land Institute's Women in Leadership Initiative Championship Team. Camille is the 2022 recipient of the G. Randy Roberts Service Award from the Ontario Association of Architects. She was also the awarded the Alumni Achievement Medal for Community Service at the University of Waterloo for exceptional commitment towards volunteer leadership and humanitarian endeavours.


Headshot of Matthew A.J. Brown, landscape architect. Matthew is wearing a blue shirt and is posed sitting at a white table with his arms resting on top of it.

Matthew A.J. Brown

Co-Founder of Brackish Design Studio – Saint John, New Brunswick

Professionally, Matthew spent the first seven years of his practice in Boston, working as an Associate at the award-winning landscape architecture firm, Stimson Associates, before returning to Atlantic Canada, and eventually founding Brackish in 2019. Matthew has managed a variety of high-profile projects around New England and Atlantic Canada that include large institutional master plans, campus landscapes, urban parks, waterfronts, and private residential landscapes. In addition to his practice, Matthew has taught a variety of landscape studios at both Northeastern University and the University of Toronto, and is currently an Adjunct Scholar at Dalhousie University. His connection to coastal environments is evident through both practice and academia, with a focus on landscape architecture’s vital role in resilience, renewal and regeneration.


Headshot of Sarah Anderson, urban planner. Sarah is wearing a black shirt and is standing against a grey background with her arms crossed.

Sarah Anderson

Manager of Development Planning – Moncton, New Brunswick

Sarah’s breadth of experience ranges from planning and place-making in a rural municipal context, to conservation planning and regional policy analysis at the provincial level, and development planning in a rapidly urbanizing city. Sarah’s current position with the City of Moncton focuses on ensuring that decisions on new growth and development respect the priorities of environmental sustainability, a safe and vibrant public realm, meeting the housing need, and maintaining community integrity. Sarah is a member of the Canadian Institute of Planners, was a panelist for the Canadian Institute of Planners national review of core competencies, and she sits as a juror for the Atlantic Planners Institute Planning Excellence Awards.


2023 Project Submissions

For complete descriptions of the requirements for each category, please visit the Categories, Eligibility and Criteria webpage.

The shortlisted project submissions and winners of the 2023 Urban Design Awards include:

Category Description: any built project, however modest, initiated and implemented by a community-based organization that enhances the public realm in the Halifax Regional Municipality.


Wooden bench located on Gottingen St in front of a local business. People are sitting on it to the left side and there are trees in the background. It is a sunny day.

Reimagining Gottingen Street Seating *AWARD OF EXCELLENCE WINNER*

Lead firms: OSO Planning + Design; FBM Architecture; Omar Gandhi Architect; Peter Henry Architect

The North End Business Association (NEBA), with the support of Build Nova Scotia, embarked on a project to bring public seating to Gottingen Street, which involved reimagining the deteriorating concrete planters into functional artworks to be used as public seating and community gathering.

NEBA was joined by design firms Omar Gandhi Architects, OSO Planning + Design, Peter Henry Architect, and FBM Architecture to bring the project to life. These firms worked in collaboration with their partnering community organizations at Phoenix, Mi’kmaw Native Friendship Centre, Radstorm and the Bus Stop Theatre. Together they creatively designed and built five unique benches along Gottingen Street.


Alderney Plaza on a sunny summer day. There are square wooden benches, fold-out patio chairs and tables, and the ground is painted with a colourful design.

Alderney Plaza Placemaking

Lead Firm: OSO Planning + Design

Alderney Plaza demonstrates that infrastructure is an opportunity for placemaking when we take a participatory approach to design. The plaza was reimagined with input from the community, who participated in various creative engagement sessions. It was built by an energetic team of students.

By working with community, the plaza was transformed into a vibrant space with greenery, shade, seating, and many new programming opportunities. The revitalized plaza features a 64-foot bench with five 10-foot piers, shade sails, hand-woven hammocks, and a beautiful garden. Located in the heart of Downtown Dartmouth, the project connects people through art, play and collective ownership.

 Category Description: Projects where a heritage resource has been thoughtfully and expertly adapted for a new use while maintaining the integrity and important character elements of the resource.



Lead Firm: T.A Scott Architecture + Design

The Nova Scotia Home for Colored Children (NSHCC) has been renovated, re-opened, and renamed Kinney Place, 101 years after its doors first opened. Named after James Alexander Ross Kinney, a founder of the Nova Scotia Home for Colored Children and its first superintendent, Kinney Place has been a long-time dream of Akoma Family Centre Inc. and Akoma Holdings Inc. and hopes the community sees it as a place of both historic significance and a place for healing, a phoenix rising from the ashes. Today we reflect on the past 101 years of the building while looking towards the future.


NFLD Store

Lead firm: Kerry Lynch

It was the end of an era when the NFLD Store at the corner of Clifton and Willow closed after 50 Years. The landmark building was purchased and restored to welcome new commercial tenants with apartments above. The exterior character was re-established to resemble what it would have looked like when originally built in the late 1800's. Much of the character of the interior of the store was maintained and the commercial garage at the back of the lot was converted to a secondary suite. 

Category Description: Awarded to any community builder who has built or has advanced plans for a project that delivers housing in a creative way. Priority is given to infill projects or plans that prioritize affordability and groups that face greater housing challenges.


Exterior of a Sprout Dwelling unit.

Sprout Dwellings *AWARD OF MERIT WINNER*

Lead Firm: Sprout Dwellings Inc.

Great things come in small packages, especially with Sprout Dwellings. Our small homes, which we affectionately call Sprouts, are as beautiful and functional in your backyard as they are on a waterfront lot or in the woods as a cottage. We have serious expertise by our side—architects, engineers, interior designers, construction veterans, and accessibility experts. To top off our amazing team, we work with innovative Nova Scotian companies to ensure every Sprout is built to withstand our harshest winters. Simply put, we’ve got a big vision for introducing the Maritimes to the benefits of our backyard suites and cottages.


Exterior of the Diamond Bailey Healing Centre Building.

Diamond Bailey Healing Centre *AWARD OF EXCELLENCE WINNER*

Lead Firm: Fathom Studio

Diamond Bailey Healing Centre is a new emergency transitional housing centre operated by the Mi’kmaw Native Friendship Centre in Halifax, NS. It is named after those who dedicated their entire lives to harm reduction within the urban Indigenous community. Located on a historic streetscape this development was the hard work of many to facilitate much needed emergency transitional housing within the HRM. The design of the building strays from a standard institutional layout to incorporate a more diverse method of support that is based on the needs of each individual.


Exterior of the Sunflower apartments.

The Sunflower

Lead Firm: Passive Design Solutions

The Sunflower is an affordable housing community in Lakeside imagined and realized by Adsum for Women & children. Comprised of 25 residential units and a community centre surrounding a shared courtyard, The Sunflower was informed by the voices of women and gender diverse folks impacted by homelessness and housing insecurity. Housing at the Sunflower is permanent, and rents are geared to household income. Supports on site help to foster a sense of community and create opportunities for social and cultural supports. The Sunflower was created using passive design. All the buildings meet high standards of energy efficiency and accessibility.


Rendering of the Souls Harbour Rescue Mission apartments.

Souls Harbour Rescue Mission (12-unit apartment)

Lead Firm: Souls Harbour Rescue Mission

The current condition of housing is at critical levels in Nova Scotia, and particularly in urban areas, such as HRM.  To this point, Souls Harbour Rescue Mission (SHRM), with the financial assistance of CMHC and administrative direction from Halifax Regional Municipal Planning, have constructed a 12 unit apartment which is dedicated to “persons at risk” of being without suitable housing accommodations; in particular for women at risk and their children. This apartment is adjacent to and an extension of the SHRM Crisis Center for women.


Category Description: Civic improvement projects that have been implemented as a result of a larger urban design plan or initiative and that make a positive contribution to environmental and climate change goals of the municipality.


Harbour-side Queen's Marque plaza at sunset.


Lead Firm: Fathom Studio

Queen’s Marque’s new waterfront public space in Halifax provides 100,000 sq ft of public open space that complements the mixed-use development of Queen’s Marque. The landscape design celebrates the site's history as a working waterfront, and features elements such as hemlock boards, muntz metal, and reclaimed brick. The addition of new public wharves and granite steps called Queen’s Landing offers new ways for people to get closer to the water. The project overcame design challenges, including the construction of the public space on an underground parking garage situated below sea level, to create a unified and accessible space.


A shot of Peggy's Cove Viewing Deck with a sunset and lighthouse in the background.

Peggy's Cove Viewing Deck *AWARD OF EXCELLENCE WINNER*

Lead Firm: Omar Gandhi Architects

The new, accessible Viewing Deck at Peggy’s Cove, along with fully accessible public washroom replaced a place for cars with an accessible place for people. The 14,000 square feet of new, accessible public space provides the opportunity to view the lighthouse, waves and rocks in a more attainable and safer way. 

A significant portion of the deck was reclaimed for people from the existing roadway with the remaining extending slightly over the landscape and designed to blend in with the natural surroundings. Materials were used to complement the terrain. Visitors are still welcome to access the rocks and natural landscape.

Category Description: Urban design projects from individual students or groups of students enrolled in a University located within the Halifax Regional Municipality. Projects must address local context.


Excerpt from Food Activism project.

Food Activism: Fighting for Affordable Living and Food Justice *AWARD OF EXCELLENCE WINNER*

Project Lead: Tai Nguyen Ha, Faculty of Architecture and Planning, Dalhousie University

The design is an approach to community food growing in the inner city, within a social welfare fabric. When food meets activism, the architecture makes space to resist, using the roof element as a habitat for activists on the street, and creating space for the community to frame live work and care. The selected site is framed within a neighborhood context, using a vacant parking lot to transform into a hybrid combination of social and community food hubs. This brings back the essential affordable housing model to community living and caters to many employment opportunities for community agencies.


An illustrated map of Shubie Canal from the Fields and Flows project.

Fields and Flows: Township Development in Nova Scotia

Project Lead: Preston Stronach, Faculty of Architecture and Planning, Dalhousie University

Located on the eighteenth century Shubenacadie Canal network in Nova Scotia, Canada, it utilizes sedimentation as a generator of industry, and canals as points of application, providing the rationale for a distributed infrastructure tied to a local material culture. Reconstituting components of an industrial process toward an Architecture based on Rammed Earth and Ceramics, it seeks to help improve fragmentation, provides better local and regional cohesiveness for inhabitants, and ultimately protects our critical waterways.


An excerpt from the Haven project.


Project Lead: Victoria Payne, Faculty of Architecture and Planning, Dalhousie University

"My goal with this project was to design a long-term housing program for our unhoused neighbours who wanted to remain on the Halifax Peninsula, when they have been told repeatedly to leave. The residents here would be in a stage where they are looking for employment and are ready for a more hands-off housing situation, while still being provided with some resources and community connections. 

I wanted to connect this housing project to the harbour to provide the quintessential Nova Scotian experience of living on the water, which might facilitate a connection to place and a feeling of belonging. Through my research I discovered that much of Nova Scotia’s shipping vessels and infrastructure were going unused since the start of the pandemic, so I thought the adaptive reuse of barges and other marine architecture would help to both cut costs and provide an unconventional living experience that unhoused people in Halifax might find comforting."

Category Description: A building (or group of buildings) of high architectural standards that achieves urban design excellence through its relationship with its immediate surroundings because of its site, massing, and pedestrian amenities or green building design. 


Exterior of The George Building.


Lead firm: Dexel Architecture Ltd., Fathom Studio

The George offers Haligonians the best of both worlds: the opportunity to reside in a stylish modern building nestled in a vibrant downtown neighbourhood while also living just steps away from abundant green space. Located on the corner of Pepperell and Robie streets, this mixed-use building transitions from the large-scale building context of Quinpool Road into what are primarily single-family residential neighborhoods to the south and west. The use of human-scaled materials, formal articulation, and strategic massing result in a building that reinforces and improves the neighborhood character.


Exterior of the Brewery Park Hotel

Brewery Park Hotel

Lead Firm: Kerry Lynch

Brewery Park Boutique Hotel launched in March of 2020. The second phase began in 2021 and was completed in the summer of 2022. The three-story hybrid construction combined steel, concrete and 1,100 pieces of locally sourced spruce to form the Nail Laminated Timber (NLT) floor/ceilings. 250,000 fasteners were used to connect the NLT assemblies. Brewery Park is now one of the most efficient buildings in Canada for its size and operates as the only hotel in the city's historic North End with 16 rooms.


Exterior of Queen's Marque building complex as seen from across Lower Water Street

The Queen’s Marque

Lead Firm: MacKay-Lyons Sweetapple Architects (Design Architects and Urban Design), FBM (Prime Consultants)

Queen’s Marque, a 41,800 square meter mixed-use complex on Halifax’s Waterfront, was born from the desire to build a significant Canadian landmark that would be created by Nova Scotians, for Nova Scotians. Through landscape-informed design, Queen’s Marque instills pride in local history and culture. The program includes offices, a luxury hotel, shops, restaurants and rental apartments. A “U” shaped, tripartite composition reflects the marine forms of the harbour. A sunken ‘hull’ serves as a metaphor for how the culture can reinvent itself. The design dedicates 70 per cent of the site to public space, making a difference in public life.


Exterior courtyard of See-More Housing building.

SEE-MORE Student Housing

Lead Firm: zzap Consulting Inc.

SEE-MORE features intelligently built, fully furnished modern spaces, fostering quality of life for students. In consideration of local market needs, and inspired by the classic Maritime row house aesthetic, this six-storey building promotes sustainability by integrating density through strategic application of Halifax Regional Municipality’s Regional Centre Plan. Highly efficient spaces responsibly inject a significant amount of new housing stock into communities. SEE-MORE's most striking features are its large-scale public artworks, celebrating the rich cultural heritage of the Mi'kmaw people, and promoting community connection. Zzap was the project partner guiding the process and promoting high-quality design to create this more affordable, sustainable student housing.

Category Description: A plan or study of a significant area within the Halifax Regional Municipality that provides a development or redevelopment strategy for inspired urban transformation in the mid-to-long-term. 


Sailboats are floating in a bay on a sunny day.

Hubbards Community Plan

Lead firm: UPLAND Planning + Design Studio

The ‘Hubbards Community Plan’ is a document that outlines urban design strategies for Hubbards, a seaside community of about 1,200 residents in the southwestern corner of the Halifax Regional Municipality. The Plan was initiated by the Hubbards Streetscape Project, a community group that engaged professional planners from UPLAND Planning and Design to create urban design policies, recommendations for walking and biking infrastructure as well as a vision for St. Margaret’s Bay Road as the main street of Hubbards. 

Category Description: This category is for single, small-scale pieces of a building or landscape that contribute significantly to the quality of the public realm in the Halifax Regional Municipality.


One of the Halifax Explosion Marker Sculptures in a park on a sunny day.

Halifax Explosion Markers *AWARD OF EXCELLENCE WINNER*

Lead firm: RHAD Architects

Two twisted elements derived from the image of exploded trees that lined the streets after the destructive Halifax Explosion was part of the inspiration for these commemorative markers. They represent a duality; of past and future, history and reflection, despair and hope. Corten Steel represents the past, and stainless steel the future. One hundred perforations were made into each stainless steel piece to personify the lives lost in the tragedy. The sculptures reflect sunlight through their perforations, creating a dynamic experience on the site that is ever-changing depending on the time and seasons.


A crowd is gathered around the Our Stories murals on Barrington Street. People perform Indigenous traditions in front of the murals.

Our Stories Murals

Lead firm: OSO Planning + Design

Our Stories Mural consists of 19 circular murals painted at the Mi’kmaw Native Friendship Centre and installed on the Barrington Street wall of the Scotia Square building. The murals convey stories from indigenous culture and history through the lens of local indigenous youth and artists. Positioned on one of Halifax’s busiest transit corridors, the murals are highly visible to hundreds of people daily, bringing joy, color, and story to an otherwise dull concrete wall. This project fosters collective awareness that we live in Mi’kma’ki and instills pride and ownership in the people who created the artwork.


2023 Urban Design Awards Sponsors

The Halifax Regional Municipality would like to thank our sponsors for their generous support of this event: