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Urban Design and Planning Portfolio

Mackenzie Childs Master in Urbanism Studies (Candidate) Bachelor of Community Design Honours in Urban Design and Sustainability



A Place for People: Master’s Nordic Studio Natural Kiruna: Master’s Advanced Studio History and Theory Bachelor’s Urban Design Thesis Bachelor’s Urban Design Studio

Mackenzie Childs

5650 South Street, Apt. 303, Halifax, NS, B3J 1A6 902-789-8471 Portfolio:


Education & Awards

Mackenzie is a motivated, hard-working individual who always completes her work with a great amount of care and diligence. She has a passion for the environment and an interest in creating healthy, sustainable, liveable communities. She can work well independently, as exhibited through her thesis and internship work, and can also work well as part of a team, as demonstrated through her time spent on bachelor’s and master’s studio projects and her experience working with various community projects. She has experience with transit planning, through her key role in implementing a transit system in Bridgewater, Nova Scotia. She has strong interpersonal skills with the ability to communicate well orally and in writing. She has experience with community engagement, policy analysis, healthy city initiatives, project management, managing staff and volunteers, and public relations for co-operatives and events. She has a strong drive for continuous personal and professional development and is always seeking out ways to further her skillset. She has experience using Adobe Creative Suites, ArcGIS, Google SketchUp and Google LayOut.

KTH Royal Institute of Technology 2016 – 2017 • Master of Science in Urbanism Studies (Candidate) Dalhousie University 2010 – 2014 • Bachelor of Community Design: Honours in Urban Design Studies and Sustainability • Member of the Golden Key International Honours Society • Student member of the Canadian Institute of Planners • Sexton Scholar (2014) • Dean’s List (2011 – 2014) • Dalhousie In-Course Scholarship (2014) • Dalhousie Entrance Scholarship (2011)

Work & Community Experience Town of Bridgewater Junior Transit Planner June 2017 - Present • I am working to implement a transit service as a pilot project in Bridgewater, Nova Scotia, with the aim of creating a permanent system • I focus on service logistics, creating informational materials, public engagement, conducting a hiring process, best practice research, and creating professional partnerships Dalhousie Urban Garden Programming Coordinator April 2016 – September 2016 • Built and maintained relationships with community organizations and members • Improved my initiative and leadership through planning, organizing and facilitating workshops • Helped maintain and improve the physical garden space • Contributed to research and documents for future organization of events Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations Intern 2014 • Researched background information for a Healthy Communities Statement of Provincial Interest (SPI) • Improved policy analysis skills by analyzing Municipal Planning Strategies and Land Use Bylaws of towns across Nova Scotia to understand healthy community policies • Enhanced problem solving skills by providing recommendations for the SPI • Strengthened verbal and written communication skills through completion of a spreadsheet, report and presentation of the findings

PLANifax External Affairs Officer 2015 – 2016 • Educated the public on urban planning concepts and community development projects through various engagement methods • Managed external affairs volunteers, organized outreach to related organizations, acted as a liaison between volunteers and stakeholders, managed all social media accounts, and enhanced PLANifax’s public presence • Scripted, directed, filmed, edited and acted in engagement videos Common Roots Urban Farm Core Team Member and Host 2013 – 2016 • Facilitated meetings, recorded minutes, helped plan plot and volunteer programs, scheduled and organized workshops, and helped organize the farm • Oversaw the farm individually and with other volunteers while maintaining the farm, greeting visitors, recording visitor and volunteer activity, and learning urban farming principles 100In1Day Halifax: Citizen Engagement Festival Outreach, Facilitation and Graphic Design Team 2015 – 2016 • Focused on stakeholder outreach with the goal of inspiring and supporting community members in organizing citizen engagement interventions, and facilitated and promoted workshops, while improving my communication, organization and leadership skills • Honed my creative and technical skills through the creation of workshop posters, flyers and community action toolkits for the event using Adobe Creative Suites

The Wooden Monkey Supervisor and Server 2012 – 2016 • As a supervisor I honed my leadership skills by managing the front of house staff in a fast paced setting and attending to customers’ needs, while improving my skills in customer service

Projects & Courses Honours Thesis : “Residential Change in Halifax’s North End: Inventory and Pattern Analysis” 2013 – 2014 • Used a mixed methods approach of direct observation, document research and pattern analysis to determine development patterns focused on physical and economic changes Master’s Studio: Designing Kiruna, a city on the move 2016-2017 • Worked individually and as a team to re-design part of a city, focusing on preservation, a polycentric and walkable city, nature integration and tourism • Analyzed the current situation, best practices and city values to create a cohesive plan and design


Graham Fisher Senior Planner, Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations E: P: (902) 424-2990 Jayme Melrose Project Coordinator , Common Roots Urban Farm E: P: (902) 441-4288

The Project The focus of this project was to re-design the space in front of an existing train station as there are plans to significantly increase the number of trains and passengers in the near future. The current area is an uninviting mixture of cars, buses, cyclists and pedestrians; with importance seemingly in that order. The train station is disconnected to the nearby bus station, the area is primarily a vehicle roundabout, there are underused parkettes separated by the road, unused empty space, inadequate bicycle parking, poorly connected pedestrian streets, and a disconnect between city areas due to the train tracks. The re-design focused on the importance of public space. It aimed to combat the existing problems and focused on Jan Gehl’s idea of people and people’s activities attracting others. As there will be more people in the area due to an increase of passengers, the central station square should be an impressive activity node and a major connection to the rest of the city. The current layout forces pedestrians to move around the outside of the roundabout and transition from a pedestrian-only street to a vehicle-oriented area. This design transforms the space from one for vehicles to one for pedestrians and aims to create a public space where people stay rather than simply pass through. A public space should foster community, provide meeting spaces, drive economic development, make use of ill-used area and create an identity. When speaking to the municipal planning department about the future of the station they stressed the importance of increasing sustainable transportation, linking the city across the tracks, increasing public rooms, and turning the space into a place. The design process involved speaking to the city staff, conducting background research of the city, understanding current transportation connections through online research, understanding the current use of the area through detailed observation, researching best practices and examples, and visualizing the final design. The design focused on reconnecting the existing buildings and parks to the square, creating a shared space with traffic calming measures, creating a versatile open space, improved pedestrian, bicycle and bus connections, and transforming the existing dark pedestrian tunnel, that connects the two sides of the tracks, into one suitable for pedestrians, bicycles and bicycle parking.

A Place for People: Master’s Nordic Studio Central Station Square, Eskilstuna, Sweden

The photograph to the left is of the train station with a fence along the pedestrian area and a vehicular roundabout as the central use.

The above left photo shows existing conditions of the area when facing away from the station. It shows the connection of the roundabout to a street that is pedestrianized further along. The above right image shows the street facing towards the station that re-connects pedestrianized space and adds vegetation and seating in place of parking spaces.

The above left photo shows existing conditions of the east side of the roundabout and the above right image depicts an example of the space improved with a new building with an interactive ground floor, patios continued around the square, additional seating and a pedestrianized space. Collage were created in Photoshop and Illustrator.

Current bus routes

Current bicycle routes

Current pedestrian routes

Envisioned bus routes

Envisioned bicycle routes

Envisioned pedestrian routes

The maps above show current transportation situations and envisioned connections for the future. The future bus connections shift the traffic from the middle of the space to the edge and they add more connections along main streets. The future bicycle routes connect existing routes and link the city underneath the train tracks. The future pedestrian-focused routes connect existing routes and squares, pedestrianize roads that already contain some pedestrianized zones, and aim to take the focus off vehicles. The tunnel that currently connects the city underneath the tracks will be transformed into a pedestrian and bicycle tunnel and will contain bicycle parking. This idea was inspired by similar tunnels in Amsterdam’s Central Station and Utrecht’s Central Station. Maps were created in Photoshop and Illustrator using base maps from AutoCAD.

The Project Kiruna is a city located above the Arctic Circle with an economy based on iron ore mining. Due to years of mining the ground has deteriorated and the majority of the city is being relocated a few kilometers to the east. There is a current design plan for the new city created by White Arkitekter and the focus of this design project was to re-design one portion of the new area focusing on a strong urban fabric, the city’s heritage, the unpredictability of the future, and designing for cold and dark climates. Our group chose to focus on five key qualities: preserve the current Kiruna atmosphere, create a polycentric city, create a walkable city, integrate nature, and enhance tourism. We focused on three areas of the city in order to capture these qualities: a main street connection, a tourist- and resident-focused village, and the residential areas. The project involved the following phases: • Meetings with White Arkitekter to learn about their design for the city • Analyzing White Arkitekter’s design plan • Visiting Kiruna to understand the current city firsthand, meet with city officials involved in the process, interview residents, attend a workshop to brainstorm, and develop design ideas • Defining our project goals and objectives as a group • Completing background research on the city of Kiruna, on how to design and plan in cold and dark climates, and finding inspiration references • Creating designs for the main street, the village and the various residential street types • Creating plan maps, diagrammatic maps, sections, visualizations and images for presentation The photograph to the left depicts the existing Kiruna atmosphere in a residential area.

Natural Kiruna: Master’s Advanced Studio Kiruna, Sweden

Polycentric City

Walkable City

Final Plan

User Map


Sauna Outdoor activity Artisan shops in village Kiruna church City Hall

Integrate Nature

Enhance Tourism

The maps above illustrate four of the qualities guiding our design process. A polycentric city to provide residents with multiple centres with different amenities; a walkable city focused on easy pedestrian access for all residential areas; integrating quality nature throughout the city, as nature is important to residents; and enhancing already existing tourism to provide more possibilities for growth in addition to the mine. The final maps were created by another group member with background work completed as a team. Maps were created in Illustrator with base maps from White Arkitekter re-created in AutoCAD.



Walks child to village Artisan shops in village Vists friend Home


Drops child at preschool Grocery store Work Home


Visits friend Park Shops on main street Home


School Shops on main street Skatepark Home

Elderly Man

Sauna Shops in village Visits friend Home

Street Hierarchy

The first map above is our final plan map showing our additions integrated into White’s plan. The second map shows how our design considers various users. The third map is a heat map depicting the density and type of buildings, and the final map is a heat map inspired by a space syntax map showing street hierarchy and connection. The final plan map was created by another group member and the other maps were created by me, each with background work completed as a team. Maps were created in Illustrator and Photoshop with base maps from White Arkitekter re-created in AutoCAD.

Residential Sections

The sections above show the types of residential streets proposed in our design. They include a variety of housing types to accommodate a range of people; single family homes, row houses and larger block houses. The blue colouring depicts public space, pink depicts private space and some streets include semi-private space. The final design of the sections was created by another group member with section plans and background work completed as a team. Sections were created in Corel Draw.

Main Street Connection

This page is an excerpt from the final presentation, providing detail on the main street connection. It displays the connection between the two centres, references for the design and sections for different parts of the street.

The Project The focus of this project was to create a re-design of a local area. It involved continuous, detailed observation of the study area, interpretation of the existing issues and the potential of the site, understanding the context and history of the site and surrounding area, researching design precedents of similar places, and designing a final plan for the site using knowledge gained from the research. The final design aimed to combat a lack of individual seating, a poorly situated basketball net, uneven pavement, a disconnect within the space, no weather protection, a large and underutilized grass area, poorly situated bicycle racks, and a wind tunnel, while focusing on the potential. Observations of the study area allowed me to understand people’s walking, stopping and sitting patterns, how much the bicycle racks and basketball court are used and what the area is like at different times of the day and week. From this I focused on the issues, potentials and observations and created a final re-design. The focus was on seating, increasing vegetation, improving the bicycle rack location and design, providing shelter and increasing historical design elements. The photograph to the left is an example of the study area conditions at the time of the project.

History and Theory

Carleton Quad, Dalhousie University, Halifax

The above photographs show the study area conditions at the time of the project.

These maps are examples of my data collection showing travel patterns on certain days and times with varying weather conditions. From left to right: Monday at 12:30pm when sunny and warm, Tuesday at 10:30am when overcast and rainy, Friday at 12:20pm when sunny and windy, and Saturday at 1:10pm when sunny and cool. Maps were created in GIS.

These renderings are examples of the final design created from observations, background research, understanding the area, and researching other university campus quad designs. Renderings were created in Google SketchUp.

The Project The focus of my undergraduate honours thesis was to answer the following: What residential development is occurring in Halifax’s North End? To what extent do contemporary development, land use patterns and property information support the verdict that gentrification is occurring? I examined changes in the North End, a specific study area and smaller dissemination areas (DA’s) since approximately 2003. I began by researching and understanding gentrification and then focused on analyzing patterns of residential infill and redevelopments in the area. I researched physical and economic changes since 2003 including vacancy rates, rental prices, housing prices, the shift from renting to owning, affordable housing, property values, greenspace, and the location of new and proposed developments. I used a three-step mixed-methods approach involving direct observation and a visual survey, document research and pattern analysis. I determined residential buildings constructed in the past ten years through site visits and researched these buildings further through document research. I researched the physical and economic indicators of gentrification through document research and determined patterns of change. The visual survey was used to retrieve empirical evidence of redevelopment and locations for potential infill. Through these visits new buildings, empty lots, construction sites and sites with development notices were accounted for. I designed inventory sheets (documenting address; type of site; number of units; material of building; company, manager or building name; parking availability; building description; location on the street and number of storeys) and photographed buildings.

Urban Design Thesis

Residential Change in Halifax’s North End

For the document research I searched newspaper websites and development forums for information on proposed and new developments; read Halifax Municipality documents for information on proposed and new developments, zoning and land ownership; contacted Royal LePage and Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation for rental and housing market information from 2003 to 2013; collected assessed property values through Viewpoint Realty Services and Property Valuation Services Corporation from 2003 to 2013 and gathered census data from Statistics Canada from 2001, 2006 and 2011. To analyze the patterns of development I mapped developments, empty lots and lots under construction; I separated the new developments into dwelling types; I created a zoning map and a land ownership map; I analyzed rental reports from 2003 to 2013, compared key information and created charts to display the changes; I compared assessed property values from 2003, 2009 and 2013 and took into account substantial changes; and I imported census data into ArcMap to create maps to compare the categories of data over time. I compared certain data across multiple years and compared certain data from the study area to the entire North End and to the Halifax census metropolitan area.

The maps on this page and the facing page show new developments and proposed developments located in the study area. The buildings were separated into type during the analysis phase. In addition to mapping the location of the buildings, the type of structure is useful to visualize change occurring and to differentiate the structures being constructed. Map created in GIS and Adobe Illustrator.

There is an overall increase in ownership in the study area but the percentage owned is still much lower than elsewhere in Halifax. The map above displays that approximately half of the proposed developments in the study area are condominiums, which could predict a greater increase in ownership; however, there are still many apartments being proposed. Map created in GIS and Adobe Illustrator.

The graphs to the right show vacancy rates in apartments and average rent prices of the North End and the entire Halifax Census Metropolitan Area (CMA). The top graph shows that since 2011 rental apartment vacancy rates in the North End have fallen below those of the Halifax CMA. The bottom graph shows that in both areas rental prices have risen continuously since 2003 but there has been a greater increase in the North End prices. The actual average rent prices for both locations are provided in the chart to the bottom left. From 2011 to 2013 when vacancy rates were lower in the North End than the Halifax CMA, rental prices were higher. Prior to 2011 rental prices fluctuated above and below those of Halifax, as did the vacancy rates. In addition to rent prices rising above those in Halifax, prices have increased more since 2003 in the North End than they have in Halifax. Analyzing each DA independently shows that rental prices vary greatly between each one, as shown with the maps on the previous page. Prices varied from less than $400 to over $1200 over the span of 10 years. Some DA’s maintained similar average rents while others doubled in price. The location of the DA and what is located within it can affect the rental prices. Some DA’s that have retained low rental prices contain affordable and social housing. One of the DA’s is occupied mostly by Northwood Manor, a retirement home with rental units. Another DA contains half of Uniacke Square. Uniacke Square is a public housing development and Northwood Manor an affordable housing development for seniors, so these lower-priced developments may have a large effect on the average rental costs. The construction of new buildings may increase the rental prices of DA’s as well. One DA for example, increased significantly, particularly from 2006 to 2011. Around this period two garages were demolished and replaced with a 7-storey mixed use building and a 5-storey residential building, and Hydrostone Place was constructed. Hydrostone Place is a condominium, not an apartment, yet the higher than average prices of units and the new addition to the DA may influence rental prices in the area.

The maps above show that dissemination areas (DA’s) change independently from one another and show that the North End cannot be generalized as a whole. The top row of maps displays the rental price data from 2001, 2006 and 2011 - the most recent years of the long-form census. The lightest colour is the lowest rent and the darkest colour is the highest rent. The bottom row of maps display the ownership data with the darker colour showing the higher percentage of dwellings owned. Maps were created in GIS with data from Statistics Canada.

Graphs were created in Excel with data from Roya LePage. The chart contains data from the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation.


Detached Bungalow

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2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013

Year North End

(Base 100 Index)

Percentage Change from Base 100

Percentage Change from Base 100

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North End


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2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013

Year North End


(Base 100 Index) Percentage Change from Base 100

Percentage Change from Base 100




(Base 100 Index) 250

2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013

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2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013

Year North End


The above graphs depict the pattern of housing prices from 2003 to 2013 in the North End versus Halifax. These graphs display how much the housing prices have risen, compared with a base 100 index, rather than displaying the actual price. Prices rose continuously in both locations, with the North End often increasing more than the rest of Halifax. The housing prices in the North End have increased from their 2003 levels, most significantly since 2008. As with rental prices, housing prices reflect that it is becoming increasingly more expensive to reside in the North End. Although housing prices have increased more in the North End in comparison to the rest of Halifax, the actual prices themselves have remained lower than Halifax in all dwelling types but the townhouses. Graphs were created in Excel with data from Royal LePage.

General Conclusions

The Process

Development has occurred since 2003 throughout the study area and focused around anchor points such as affordable housing and developments similar to those being constructed. Affordable housing is being constructed where affordable housing already exists, clusters of recent development are located around certain areas and more condominiums and apartments are proposed for opposite ends of the study area. The patterns of lower vacancy rates and higher rental prices, as well as increasing housing prices and increasing ownership may suggest higher-income residents are moving into the area. Increasing prices may affect who is able to live there in the future.

This was an overlapping three-step process of site visits, research and analysis over 8 months. The first 4 months were primarily background research on gentrification and the history of the North End, and writing the proposal. The second 4 months consisted of research, analysis and writing the final thesis. The following are skills I developed from the project: • Researching academic databases • Conducting thorough, useful site visits • Creating maps on GIS - In this case, displaying information on maps provides a useful tool to understand where change is happening and allows visual analysis with other forms of quantitative data. • Inputing Statistics Canada data into GIS • Organizing multiple types of data from multiple sources • Analyzing qualitative and quantitative data separately and in comparison • Gathering, organizing and comparing data from realty services, Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation, Property valuation Services Corporation and Statistics Canada to understand how different areas are changing in comparison to one another • Organizing and analyzing data with Excel and visualizing the data with charts and graphs

Rental prices have increased in the study area since 2003, exceeding those of Halifax from 2011 to 2013, however analyzing each DA independently shows that rental prices vary greatly between each one. The location of the DA and what is located within it can affect the rental prices. Ownership is increasing in the area over time, but it is only occurring in certain parts, and ownership levels are still much lower than they are in Halifax. Renting is still more common than owning, even with increasing rental prices. This study provides a strong background on physical and economic changes occurring in the study area. Identifiers of gentrification presented themselves through analysis but there were instances of data suggesting the area is not gentrifying. It is too much of a generalization to say if the study area or the entire North End is gentrifying or not, from the results of this study alone. From this background, future studies can be completed with a more in-depth analysis on each identifying factor of change. A larger study area must be analyzed in order to conclude overall changes occurring in the North End.

The entire thesis document can be found online at http://theoryandpractice.planning.dal. ca/_pdf/neighbourhood_change/mplan_projects/mchilds_2014.pdf

Group Work Urban Design Studio focused on in-studio work and field work as a group and as individuals. We utilized knowledge gained from previous courses and applied it to the Halifax Common, a local space that required attention. The project involved the following phases: • Gathering extensive background information on the area - including history, the natural environment and the current state of the area - and creating inventory reports identifying issues that would guide the redesign. • Holding a workshop to develop overarching goals and criteria for the redesign. • Individually exploring options and designs, and creating a final cohesive design and report with a 26 person group.

Individual Work

Urban Design Studio

Redesign of the Halifax Common

The work I completed independently involved: • Researching and completing a report on access to the Common, specifically focused on key entrances, bus transportation, bicycle transportation, and parking. This involved field work and direct observation, analyzing copies of public consultations and municipal plans, and using online sources regarding public transportation. • Developing redesigns of the entrances and the ease of access to the Common while taking into consideration the background reports, goals and objectives decided upon as a group, and guiding principles established through research. The map to the right is the final concept map created by the group. The image on the left is an example of the current state of an entrance to the Common.

I chose to focus on entrance points because they are important in improving the attractiveness of the Common, the connectivity to the surrounding area, and creating destination points within the space. A main aspect to access is not only how people get to the Common, but also how people get into the Common, therefore making the entrance areas significant.

The images on this page and the previous page are the final designs for two of the Common entrances. The design for the key entrances is meant to be consistent by using the same design elements while still creating unique and inviting areas.

These renderings are examples of the final design of my independent portion created using information from the background reports, goals and objectives and the guiding principles. The objectives reached through the design are: • Create entrances which are inviting and unique to the Common • Create bus stops which are appropriate for every season and accessible to everyone • Include smaller scale lampposts at each key entrance that reflect history and identity of the Common • Include seating that reflects history and identity of the Common • Include bicycle racks that reflect history and identity of the Common • Incorporate native vegetation while keeping in mind every season and safety

The entrances include: • Inviting, paved space extending onto Common • Raised or textured crosswalks • Historical and human scale lighting • Seating designed with consideration of the history and identity of the Common • Bicycle racks designed with consideration of the history and identity of Common • Native vegetation – a variety of species suitable for different seasons • Focal point such as artwork, water feature, or historical plaque • Historical information

Renderings on this page were created in Google SketchUp.

Renderings on this page were created in Google SketchUp.

Mackenzie Childs C: 011 46 8 703393546 E: LinkedIn:

Mackenzie Childs' Urban Design and Planning Portfolio  
Mackenzie Childs' Urban Design and Planning Portfolio