Early design plans for the Nova Centre’s public space were met with some criticism on Wednesday.
Frank Palermo attended the public consultation event held at the Westin hotel and said he was disappointed by virtually everything he saw.
The Dalhousie University professor with the schools of planning and architecture was especially put off by a partly skylit roof above Grafton Street, which divides the proposed $500 million convention centre.
He also took aim at a staircase and escalators joining Grafton and Argyle.
“This just reminds me of a traditional mall that could be filled with almost anything,” said Palermo. “The connection between Argyle and Grafton should be more like the Spanish Steps in Rome, not a tiny little stair and escalator.”
Palermo was pleased, however, with the centerpiece of the convention centre: the glass-encased ballroom that frames the structure.
Brynn Horley also attended the meeting and said she supports the metropolitan spirit of the centre’s public space, which will include an atrium and events plaza and possibly a sculpture and fountain.
However, she was concerned the design was too “sterile,” and worried about birds flying blindly into the glass.
Developers are hoping that Grafton Street will be turned into a car-free artery, though it won’t happen without HRM’s approval.
Currently, the entrance of the parking garage is located on the more pedestrian-friendly Argyle Street. Developer Joe Ramia said he’s hoping to minimize traffic flow by putting the entry as close to Sackville Street as possible.
The commercial components of the project include two towers, a hotel and the ballroom.
Ramia told the audience he welcomed their input, adding he would try to incorporate the feedback into the final design plans.
Another public consultation is scheduled for Nov. 21. The final design will be revealed Dec. 5. — Metro Halifax