Nunavut Inuit Heritage Centre design team announced

LEES+Associates will provide landscape design for the long-awaited Nunavut Inuit Heritage Centre in Iqaluit. The winning design team of Dorte Mandrup (Lead Architect), Guy Architects (Architect of Record), LEES+Associates, EXP Services, Adjeleian Allen Rubeli, Pageau Morel, Altus Group, and Indigenous consultants Kirt Ejesiak and Alexander Flaherty was announced on July 9th 2023 following an international design competition.

Nunavut Inuit Heritage Centre - Exterior Visualizations
Exterior Visualizations: MIR

LEES+Associates is excited to have been chosen for this important project that will promote greater awareness of Inuit culture and support cultural healing and reconciliation between Inuit and non-Inuit. The centre will offer a place where Inuit can reconnect with this important part of their cultural heritage and collective past through objects, stories, and activities.

Jury Statement

The winning proposal convinced the jury with their beautiful and poetic response to the requirements outlined in the Feasibility Study and during the March Design Week in Iqaluit. Jury members felt that Mandrup heard and understood community perspectives regarding Inuit Traditional Knowledge and the healing potential for the NIHC. The reference to kalutoqaniq resonated with the jury, the prevailing wind causing shapes and patterns in the snowdrifts. They appreciated the reference to Inuit wayfinding and integration into the landscape. They liked the idea of the building growing from the land, and the glowing lights in the landscape, for the eyes of the people of Nunavut. They liked the living green roof and the idea of having the more protected functional spaces set deeper into the hill. They thought the design and shape were interesting and that the building had an efficient footprint.

Dorte Mandrup explains the concept: The design of the Nunavut Inuit Heritage Centre is inspired by the landscape and the movement of the snow and the wind. Following the topographic curves and distinct longitudinal features of the terrain, the building sits parallel to the prevailing north-western winds. It carves into the rocky hillside overlooking Iqaluit with the large roof continuing the lines of the landscape and forming a new public space and a viewing platform from which visitors can enjoy the uninterrupted views towards Frobisher Bay and Sylvia Grinnell Territorial Park. By taking advantage of the protective rock, the building naturally creates a shelter over the sensitive collections and exhibitions while the expansive window gesture offers a space filled with daylight and generous views towards the south-west for future gathering and activities.

Read more: Danish architecture firm wins contract to design Nunavut Inuit Heritage Centre

Nunavut Inuit Heritage Centre - Exterior Visualizations
Exterior Visualizations: MIR.

Woodlands: The Burden of Gravity

The Burden of Gravity, an anthology of poems by Shannon McConnell “challenges readers to consider how we, in the aftermath of de-institutionalization, choose to remember institutions like Woodlands School”.

The Burden of Gravity

LEES+Associates in collaboration with many individuals who gave generously of their time and ideas, designed a memorial garden to serve as a beautiful gathering place honouring former Woodlands residents.

The Woodlands Memorial Garden project involved the recovery of some 3,000 previously removed headstones marking the graves of former residents of the Woodlands School. This work has extended over several years from guiding the concept development process, design development to construction of the Woodlands Memorial Gardens.

Work on this project remains ongoing as more headstones are discovered offsite.


The Burden of Gravity – Shannon McConnell

Review: Shannon McConnell challenges her readers to witness the burdens of memory, abuse and erasure – from the Vancouver Sun

Woodlands Memorial Garden – Project Page


Woodlands memorial garden
Woodlands Memorial Garden, New Westminster, BC


A Visit to Bedrock Granite

A visit to Bedrock Granite Stone

In the last few years, LEES + Associates has been working on the planning and design of a new cemetery in western Canada. The cemetery is expected to open in 2019 with the landscape contract slated to go to tender this fall.

The LEES + Associates design team hopes to incorporate basalt pillars and Alberta Sandstone into feature areas of the new cemetery; Madoc Hill and Leila Zeppelin from the team had a great visit to Bedrock Natural Stone last week to select stones for the project.
Here are a few photos from their visit.

Bedrock Granite Stone

Bedrock Granite Stone

Bedrock Granite Stone

Bedrock Granite Stone

Bedrock Granite Stone

Sunset Seniors’ Centre Feasibility Study

Sunset Seniors' Centre Feasibility Study

We’re pleased to announce that on Nov. 1, 2017, Vancouver City Council voted to support the development and construction of a new seniors’ centre adjacent to Sunset Community Centre in south Vancouver.

LEES +Associates worked as consultants to Carscadden McDonald and Stokes Architects Inc. on the feasibility study for this new seniors’ centre. Our work included leading public and stakeholder engagement and preparing a Needs Assessment report.

The adopted Council motion (on p. 7) states:

  1. THAT Council support development and the construction of a Seniors’ Centre of at least 10,000 square feet to be located adjacent to the existing Sunset Community Centre.
  2. THAT Council direct staff to pursue funding opportunities to cost-share the Sunset Seniors’ Centre project, currently estimated to cost up to $10 million, with the Federal and Provincial governments and report back to Council.
  3. THAT Council direct staff to form a building committee for the Sunset Seniors’ Centre Project, including representatives from the Vancouver Park Board, the Sunset Community Centre Association, Seniors’ Advisory Committee, Persons with Disabilities Advisory Committee and LGBTQ2+ Advisory Committee.

South Vancouver Seniors' Centre

South Vancouver Seniors' Centre

Humber Bay Shores Park Trails Improvement

We’re pleased to see construction underway at Humber Bay Shores Park in Toronto. The project, aimed at improving trail networks and bicycle connections at the park is expected to be completed in the summer of 2018.

Humber Bay Shores Park, Toronto

Humber Bay Shores Park, Toronto

Working with the City of Toronto, LEES+Associates completed the trail design including conceptual design through to construction documents, and a continuous linkage across the Lake Ontario shoreline as part of the Waterfront Trail System. When completed, the enhanced public space hopes to accommodate the increased popularity of the waterfront park and trail system.

For more updates on the project, check out the City’s page on the project here.

Humber Bay Shores Park, Toronto

Humber Bay Shores Park, Toronto

Humber Bay Shores Park, Toronto

WALLED OFF: Re-imagining the Stanley Park Coastline

We’re excited to share the master’s thesis of our newest staff member Ali Canning.
Ali, a recent graduate from the University of British Columbia’s Master of Landscape Architecture program, was invited by the City of Vancouver to present this thesis to the Park Board.

Ali Canning - Thesis : Re-imagining the Stanley Park Coastline

WALLED OFF: Re-imagining the Stanley Park Coastline
Thesis Project: Ali Canning

With the need to adapt to changing climates and emphasis on protecting valuable coastal habitats, this thesis researches ways in which Vancouver can reimagine its connection to the marine environment. Intertidal landscapes provide disproportionately high levels of ecosystem services, making coastal and estuarine landscapes some of the most valuable on earth. However, our city is currently divided from its aquatic habitats with the beloved, but environmentally damaging seawall. Created to protect Stanley Park from erosion, the seawall is an iconic symbol of Vancouver with millions of people coming to visit it each year. However, rising tides and increasingly frequent storm events threaten its integrity and require constant maintenance and repair. With environmental pressures growing and future predictions calling for a new coastal adaption strategy, there is an opportunity to reimagine the interface between land and sea and increase resiliency within the park. Using design solutions based in both ecology and social awareness, landscape architecture can be used to redesign shoreline areas into multifunctional landscapes that restore marine habitat, are resilient to future change, and provide a place for people to reconnect with our oceans.

Due to its high vulnerability to storm events and inland flooding, the final design focuses on the landscape from Ferguson Point to Second Beach. A dynamic park is created allowing users to explore island marsh boardwalks, meander through sand dunes and investigate tide pools. With an integrated nature house and varying trail networks, this project creates a stimulating landscape that strengthens our relationship with the coastal environment we treasure.

Read the full dissertation

Ali Canning - Thesis Ali Canning - Thesis : Re-imagining the Stanley Park Coastline Ali Canning - Thesis

Lake Cowichan’s Ts’uubaa-asatx Square

Lake Cowichan Ts'uubaa-asatx Square

Making a place for art!

LEES+Associates prepared the final concept and construction drawings for a proposed new town square in the Town of Lake Cowichan on Vancouver Island. The community wanted to include a place for public art within the square, but by the time the project went to construction, what that art would be had not yet been determined.

The strategy was to provide a flexible landscaped space within the central roundabout of the square. In-ground lighting and a removable cobble surface were installed to permit a future installation.

Lake Cowichan Ts'uubaa-asatx Square

Lake Cowichan Ts'uubaa-asatx Square

That installation took place in November 2015, with the ceremonial raising of a stunning, monumental totem pole. Carved by Hupacasath artist and historian Ron Hamilton, the pole was presented to the Town of Lake Cowichan by Chief Livingstone as a gift from the Lake Cowichan First Nation:

“’Our pole will reflect the past, present and future of our community,’ said Chief’s Livingstone’s wife, Hakuum. The top of the pole features three faces. Hamilton explained that one face represents Ts’uubaa-asatx people of the past, the ancestors.”

And it was for this face that the new square was named, Ts’uubaa-asatx Square.

Quote from Ha-Shilth-Sa article covering the ceremony.

Lake Cowichan Ts'uubaa-asatx Square

Komagata Maru Memorial in the Fall

Komagata Maru Memorial in the Fall

We took a stroll recently to admire the changing autumn foliage at the Komagata Maru Memorial. This project involved a monument design to commemorate a 1914 incident that witnessed 376 passengers from India escorted out of Vancouver’s Coal Harbour aboard the steamship Komagata Maru.

Steel panels, set within the surrounding landscape, simulate the ship’s hull with small openings to reflect the cascading waves of Vancouver’s harbour. A centrally located glass panel provides a historical narrative of the incident for visitors, and presents a poignant historic image from a tragic day in Canadian immigration history.