Sixteen of these organizations, plus Halifax Regional Municipality (HRM), hired and funded New York and Copenhagen based urban design firm, Gehl, to research, collaborate, and produce a Cogswell District recommendations report. The Gehl report is now complete and available for download. To download the Background and Executive Summary, click here.
“This review of the approved 60 per cent design concept provides insights at an exciting and crucial time of the project,” said Paul MacKinnon, Executive Director with Downtown Halifax Business Commission. “Throughout the process, the group was fortunate to have participation from the broader community as well as HRM project leads and WSP working with Gehl. To have Gehl’s associates review the 60 per cent design with their extensive experience and expertise and with an objective eye, was an invaluable contribution to the plan review process.”
The report is not an alternate design to what HRM is currently working on, but, rather a study that will include strategies, best practices, and design recommendations as well as the downtown plan and the seven district goals for the project. The main design recommendations fall under three categories: connectivity, open space, and urban block. HRM has agreed to consider the resulting recommendations in the 90 percent plan.
“Halifax is at a critical moment in the shaping of the city. The transformation of the Cogswell Interchange to a cherished destination is no easy challenge, but Halifax has a strong advantage: dedicated Haligonians that passionately care about their city,” said Maki Kawaguchi, Associate/Lead Designer with Gehl. “The removal of the Cogswell Interchange creates great opportunities for the city, but to ensure success, the human experiences we want to create and the qualities we need to achieve this need to be front and center in the plans. In addition to design recommendations, our report provides a framework to guide a people-first planning approach.”
In fall 2018, HRM conducted a public engagement program in addition to participating with other funders through a steering committee to oversee the Gehl study. The input received from the public along with the study will help inform the 90% per cent design, which is expected to go to Council this winter. The timing of the study and report is crucial because the plan needs to integrate considerations from the public engagement sessions regarding placemaking, transit, affordable housing, connectivity, building design, tourism, and city building.
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