Bicentennial Common


Dalhousie's campus master plan of 2010 calls for the 60,000 square-foot area at the top of University Avenue, adjacent to the Killam Library, to be re-designed into a vibrant and diverse outdoor public space.

The vision is to create an inspirational outdoor public space that is symbolic and emblematic - a "Bicentennial Common" that is meaningful locally and globally, for people of all cultures. A year-long engagement process with the Dal Community, including an online survey, 25 stakeholder engagement meetings and eight pop-up sessions, gathered new ideas for the space. Aspects being considered include symbols, agriculture, infrastructure, accessibility, Indigenous and settler history, as well as ways to represent the 120+ (approx.) countries that play a role at Dalhousie University.

As its name implies, the Bicentennial Common will also serve as a legacy project for Dal's 200th anniversary celebrated in 2018. The iconic Dal 200 sign on the upper part of Studley Quad has been integrated into the project and a time capsule filled with items submitted by members of the Dal Community will be incorporated as a fun element for a future celebration.


Steps Toward the Vision

The complexity of creating the Bicentennial Common into a "place" that will attract people suggests that we cannot expect to do everything right initially. This is especially true when we are attempting to transform an area that, on a day-to-day basis, is used mostly for parking and walking/rolling movements between buildings. Typically, at this point, we would engage designers to complete a design followed by retaining a contractor to build the design. We would then be left wondering if all our investment was truly correct. Based on the community input, we will be using the principle of "Lighter, Quicker, Cheaper" to be the next step. We will experiment, test, observe and undertake future engagement with tactical improvements to determine what will draw students, faculty, staff and the community to the Bicentennial Common. These tactical improvements can immediately bring benefits to the Bicentennial Common, the Dalhousie Community and inform the longer term project implementation.

Tactical improvements installed to date:

  • String lights in the boulevard outside the Killam Library;
  • Re-installation of 1818-2018 sign in its permanent location;
  • Welcome Circle painted with numerous languages spoken at Dalhousie all saying "Welcome";
  • New composite Adirondack chairs;
  • A permanent outdoor concrete ping-pong table located under the string lights; and
  • Heat lamps available for outdoor events


Project overview

Location: 6206 University Avenue, Halifax, NS (exterior lands)

Budget: $5-8M

Concept Design Consultants:

Ekistics Planning and Design
DesignPoint Engineering

General Contractors for Tactical Improvements:

Atlantex CreativeWorks
Pelham Electric
LakeCity Woodworkers
Dalhousie Facilities Management Trades
Concreations Inc.

Project Status

Certain tactical improvements have been completed. A schematic design of the full build-out has been completed and is based on thorough Dalhousie Community feedback and participation. Fundraising for the full build-out is ongoing.