Argyle Streetscape Design


Partners: Planning + Design Centre, Downtown Halifax Business Commission

As the heart of one of the most vibrant entertainment districts on the east coast, Argyle Street has the potential to be one of Canada’s great streets, and a model for how people-oriented downtowns are designed and developed. Halifax’s Downtown Plan identifies the configuration of streets such as Argyle as vital to providing a high-quality public realm to create vibrant public places that define the downtown.

In 2012, the Downtown Halifax Business Commission engaged the Cities & Environment Unit and the Planning + Design Centre to revitalize and revisit previous Argyle streetscape designs with more input from both stakeholders and the public. The current Argyle streetscape project sought to broaden the engagement by revisiting the design in a collaborative way and raising awareness about the potential for developing an extraordinary street. The engagement process consisted of meetings with business owners and managers along Argyle Street, two collaborative public design sessions, focus group meetings with HRM staff and special interest groups, an open house presentation, and outreach and awareness building through a temporary storefront project on Argyle Street.

The streetscape design proposed for Argyle Street embraces the shared street concept, which seeks a better balance of the needs of all road uses by improving the level of comfort and usability. The application of a shared street concept on Argyle Street shifts the balance from a car-dominant space to a truly public realm where pedestrian movement, pace and activities are given equal treatment on a curb-less street. Traffic-calming along Argyle Street is achieved through design of the block gateways, reduced carriage-way width, paving treatments, and strategic arrangement of pedestrian-scale light standards that shorten sight lines.

A shared street strikes a balance for street users and creates opportunity for creative street uses. The simplicity and flexibility achieved in the street layout accommodates a variety of activities that could occur at different times of the day, week and season. This streetscape plan does not prescribe activities, but rather offers to enhance the flexibility of the street and the changing of uses from day to night, winter to summer.