This article is part of an ongoing series highlighting plans in the works for Dalhousie’s 200th anniversary celebrations in 2018. For more features, visit our archives and learn more about Dal 200 at dal200.ca.
As Dalhousie University gears up to celebrate its bicentennial anniversary, many may be wondering what the university looked like at various points in its history — back 50, 100, even the full 200 years ago.
As one of many activities in place to commemorate Dal’s 200th anniversary, Eric Rapaport, an associate professor in Dal’s Faculty of Architecture & Planning, is helping lead a large-scale project in his Faculty that will take people back through “space and time” to showcase how the footprint and history of the university has evolved over the last two centuries.
“We’re looking at how the landscape has changed at Dal, and how the buildings and properties have developed across our campus,” he says. “So we’re creating an online map where people can click on different buildings at Dal and get information about the property (i.e. history, architecture and design).”
Piecing together Dal's history
Established within the Nova Scotia Technical College in 1961, the Faculty of Architecture & Planning originally shared the space it now solely occupies in the Ralph M. Medjuck Building on Spring Garden Road with the Nova Scotia Museum of Science.
In 1980, the Nova Scotia Technical College became the Technical University of Nova Scotia (TUNS), later amalgamating with Dalhousie University in 1997.
Prof. Rapaport says eventually the virtual “time machine” they are building will include any building that Dal has owned since 1818, including ones that have disappeared from the landscape because they were demolished over time.
“We’re going to trace how Dalhousie has grown and taken over the space that it now occupies, which is Barrington Street all the way up to Coburg Street,” he says.
Prof. Rapaport says the online map won’t just appeal to Dal alumni, but anyone interested in learning more about the history of Halifax.
“This project shows us where we have come from and illustrates where we’re going. It also gives a sense of how the fabric of the environment has changed over time,” he says.
Connecting past, present and future
Although the 200th anniversary project will help educate the public on Dal’s history, for the Faculty of Architecture and Planning, the project will serve an even greater purpose.
“We’re very interested in the future and how things are going to look. But in order to look into the future, we have to look into the past. We look at how a site was once used, and we also look at the surrounding areas to better understand what the architectural form and design was,” says Prof. Rapaport. “So even though this is part of the 200th celebrations, the databases that we’re building will probably be used in our courses and research as well.”
Other Dalhousie partners on the project will include Facilities Management, Dal Libraries, Dal Archives and Dal’s GIS Centre
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