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Photo © Lydon Lynch Architects
Four "solar lanterns" line the front facade and offer passersby a glimpse into the bustling market.


Halifax Seaport Farmers' Market

Lydon Lynch Architects
Halifax, Canada

Market Revival: Despite organizational struggles, a dramatic green makeover transforms a cruise ship terminal into a vibrant new home for a historic farmers' market in Halifax.

By Alanna Malone
July 2012
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On any given Saturday in Halifax, Nova Scotia, one can stroll into the Seaport Farmers' Market to sample homemade cider, participate in a rooftop yoga class, buy handcrafted earrings, or listen to a local rock band. The LEED Platinum-certified building, which officially opened in November 2010, hosts up to 225 vendors on the weekends and attracts 12,000 visitors on the busiest days. Established in 1750, it is the oldest continuously running market in North America and was formerly sited at an old brewery a few blocks from the new location. Now in a revamped international port and cruise ship terminal adjacent to Halifax Harbor, the 56,000-square-foot facility is a gateway to the seaport warehouse district.


Location Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada (Shore of Halifax Harbor)

Gross area 56,000 ft² (5,200 m²)

Completed November 2010

Cost $13 million (Canadian)

Annual purchased energy use (based on simulation) 46 Btu/ft2 (521 MJ/m2), 58% reduction from base case

Annual carbon footprint (predicted) 59 lbs. CO2/ft2 (287 kg CO2/m2)

Program Office space, exhibit floor, food stations


Insulation Roxul Mineral Wood

Wood Goodfellow FSC-certified

Green roof Soprema

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Halifax Seaport Farmers' Market
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In 1995, the City Market of Halifax Cooperative's former general manager Fred Kilcup set out to find a permanent home for the market. After reviewing a number of locations over a period of years, the co-op decided on an old shipping warehouse owned by the Halifax Port Authority (HPA) and prepaid a 40-year lease to rent the space. At the time, the HPA was actively looking to reuse underutilized properties lining the waterfront.

Largely due to its ambitious green design, the market was able to raise the majority of the construction budget through the municipal, provincial, and federal governments along with local investors. "Financially and emotionally, there's a lot of personal interest in the market," says Kilcup.

The green design reflects the sustainable message of the market vendors, who have embraced their new home. "As an agricultural institution, the vendors have a real understanding of the land and what we do on it," explains Kilcup, noting that the design was also cost-effective: "It just made sense when you look at the numbers—the paybacks are relatively short." The new market features building-integrated wind turbines, a green roof, solar-thermal panels, and geothermal wells, among many other sustainable strategies. "We tried to make all the technology visible, as we thought it had a huge potential for public education," says Keith Tufts, lead design architect from Lydon Lynch Architects, whose office is on the second floor of the new facility.

The team kept the core of the old structure and managed to divert 96.5 percent of construction waste from the landfill. One edge of the terminal was scaled back to create an open public plaza and an outdoor portion of the market. The exterior is clad in double-glazed argon-filled glass and FSC-certified cedar. Four "solar lanterns" dominate the front facade, helping attract people into the building. Besides providing daylight, the large glass volumes serve as visual corridors through the room, acting as a "transparent connection between the land and the sea," says Tufts.

Operable windows lining the top of the lanterns work in concert with garage-like doors for disembarking cruise ship passengers along the opposite wall of the structure to naturally flush out the building. "The fresh air and the feel of the salt air is just incredible," says Tufts. During the winter, ducts in each of the four lanterns employ energy recovery ventilation to heat the incoming air when needed.

The existing floor from the old terminal was ripped up, crushed, and used for back-fill gravel. The new concrete flooring has radiant tubes (for heating) and strategically placed "pit boxes" with drains, electrical outlets, and water faucets.

Management, however, has no control over what kind of equipment the vendors are actually using. Though the building was designed to be as energy efficient as possible, inefficient appliances have skewed power usage. "It's frustrating, but such is the nature of green building," says Tufts.

The market floor is organized so that semi permanent stores such as Foothill Farm Dairy, the Seaport Bread Shop, and Getaway Farm Meat mongers, which have the greatest utility needs, are situated along the front facade with access to plumbing, gas, and electrical services. Stores that require only plumbing and electricity are located in the middle, while those just needing electricity are along the far wall.

The wood-crafted mezzanine level is the "dry" area for artwork, wine, and other goods that don't need service equipment. "This hand-hewn wood was an attempt to create warmth in an otherwise concrete, steel, and glass environment," says Tufts. A central grand staircase and living green wall are designed to function as either a central stage or amphitheater seating, depending on the event. Two giant fig trees from a Florida nursery are planted in the two solar lanterns flanking the central stairwell. While the fig trees seem to be thriving, portions of the green wall located directly behind the stairs are not doing as well. Tufts says that some of the plants just need replacing, a task that management should have already done. The central space is also an area for socializing, snacking, or people watching; musicians and other performers sometimes use the area as an impromptu stage.

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