Queen’s Marque

Photo credit: Nic Lehoux

Queen’s Marque is a 41,800 square-meter mixed-use complex on Halifax’s Waterfront. Designed by MacKay-Lyons Sweetapple Architects, the idea for the project was born from developer Scott Armour McCrea’s desire to build a Canadian landmark created by Nova Scotians, for Nova Scotians.

The CEO of Armour Group Ltd, a Halifax-based real estate and construction company, aimed to embark on a legacy project that symbolized the growing confidence in Eastern Canada.

Photo credit: Nic Lehoux

As a result, Queen’s Marque aims to instill pride in local history and culture while making a lasting impact on public life for generations to come.

The goal for this landmark, according to Brian MacKay-Lyons, founder of MacKay-Lyons Sweetapple Architects, was to create a “people place” where the new central square would become the public living room of the city.

Queen’s Marque emphasizes the enhancement of the skyline without overpowering it and the development was designed to frame views, create sheltering courtyards, and establish welcoming public spaces.

Photo credit: Nic Lehoux

The design team began the project by moving parking underground and implementing a mixed-use programming, such as offices, a luxury hotel, shops, restaurants, and rental apartments to maintain site activity 24/7. The complex, which is designed in a “U” shape, reflects marine forms inspired by historic ships. A sunken ‘hull’ also serves as a metaphor for cultural reinvention.

The layout of the complex safeguards views of the historic citadel, stretches the civic grid to the water, restores and completes the pedestrian boardwalk along the shoreline, creates a protected micro-climate, and offers Halifax its first public gathering space along the harbor.

Photo credit: Nic Lehoux

The design of the project shifts the 107-meter-long sandstone structure towards Lower Water Street, bordered by two perpendicular buildings, unveiling 70 per cent of the site for public use. Elements such as ‘The Lost Ship Bosque,’ a gallery of maple trees, and the staircase (‘Rise Again’) ascending to the ‘Tidal Beacon’ enhance the public space. Various passageways through the buildings create a highly accessible environment for the public, allowing direct access to the water through a staircase (‘Queen’s Landing’).

Selected materials for the project resonate with the local vernacular, blending sandstone with adjacent institutional buildings, incorporating Muntz metal reminiscent of 19th Century hull sheathing, and reclaimed cobblestone paving. The landscaping restores the original shoreline drift, evoking a sense of pride and curiosity. Art is seamlessly woven into the development through site-specific installations that delve into the harbor’s history and environmental phenomena.

Photo credit: Nic Lehoux

Queen’s Marque is designed to meet a LEED Platinum Energy Model and incorporates one of the most efficient and technologically advanced heating and cooling plants in the region. The development optimizes cooling costs by using the frigid water of the harbor, using a seawater loop that extends 50-feet below grade. Sustainable practices, such as green roofing materials and Low-E glass, minimize the building’s energy costs and carbon footprint.

The ground-level of the project has been raised, in anticipation of sea level rise, and sets a precedent in environmental consideration for future developments of this scale. This elevation is carefully balanced to maintain engagement with the surrounding pedestrian experience, making Queen’s Marque a landmark in both architectural and environmental innovation.


Location: Halifax Waterfront, Nova Scotia, Canada
Completion Date: Spring 2023
Client: Armour Group Limited
Project Size: 41,800 square meters

Project Team:

Developer and Master Builder: Armour Group Limited – Scott Armour McCrea


Design Architects and Urban Design: MacKay-Lyons-Sweetapple Architects

Design Lead: Brian MacKay-Lyons

Project Architect: Shane Andrews

Prime Consultant: FBM Architects, George Cotaras & Wayne Duncan

Landscape Architecture: Fathom Studio and Brackish Design Studio

Structural Engineer: Campbell Comeau Engineering Limited

Mechanical and Electrical Engineer: M + R Engineering

Builder: Armour Group Limited in joint venture with  Bird Construction

Interior Design

Muir Hotel: Studio Munge

Lobbies, core and residences: MacKay-Lyons Sweetapple Architects

Nic Lehoux

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