Market Lands

Winnipeg, Manitoba

Photo Credits: Daoust Lestage



Research by: Samantha Miller

Edited by: Nicole Brekelmans

Case study compiled in 2019



Project: Market Lands

Type of Urban Strategy: Circular Economies

Type of ProjectPublic Market / Public Plaza

LocationWinnipeg, Manitoba

Date Designed/Planned: 2018

Construction Completed: TBA

Designer: Daoust Lestage


Previously the home of the Winnipeg Public Safety Building and Civic Parkade, the site of the Market Lands is right in the heart of Winnipeg’s Exchange District. The project is called the Market Lands because this was the place where the city would host public markets, and was the centre of commerce and trade at the time of Winnipeg’s founding. CentreVenture began the search for a design firm to create a new design for this area, and started a design competition. The winning submission was awarded to Daoust Lestage whose design impressed the jury the most. Designed to be built on top of the shadow of the original market building, the winning design featured an elegant Market Building with a sustainable residential building to the north. The plan provides a clear continuation of flow northward and connects the space visually with the Red River College buildings, Old Market Square, and City Hall. The Market Building, although simple, will be full of glazing to allow plenty of sunlight through at all times. The glazing allows for transparency and connection with the surroundings. The mixed-use building is designed with sustainable principles and seamlessly fits in with the massing of the surrounding buildings. This project is an excellent example of circular economy because it encourages individuals to buy from local businesses as they did back when Winnipeg was founded. Having an attractive centre for a local market right in the heart of the cultural district will help to bring people to the space and encourage gathering. Circular economies aim to provide for human needs and improve quality of life while reducing social and environmental harm- this case study does just that.


Previously the home of the Winnipeg Public Safety Building and Civic Parkade, the site of the Market Lands is right in the heart of Winnipeg’s Exchange District. The project is called the Market Lands because this was the place where the city would host public markets, and was the centre of commerce and trade at the time of Winnipeg’s founding. The location of the site provides a multitude of opportunities because it is in one of Winnipeg’s most significant downtown areas. From July to December 2018, CentreVenture conducted an international design competition for the design of the southern section of the Market Lands site. Out of twenty-three submissions from design firms across the world, five were shortlisted, and ultimately, Daoust Lestage and their project ‘new market square’ were awarded the project (CentreVenture, n.d.). The neighbourhood of the Market Lands site has over 60 unique independent shops, over 50 homegrown eateries, coffee shops, pubs, gourmet restaurants, antique stores, boutiques, jewellers, and more. Right in the heart of Winnipeg’s cultural district, the Exchange District provides space for artistic expression, gathering, events and also growing technology and innovation (CentreVenture, n.d.).


Bound by James Avenue to the north, King Street to the east, William Avenue to the south and Princess Street to the west, the Market Lands sits on 2.4 acres. The site is comprised of four sections or ‘parcels,’ surrounded by some of the critical landmarks and properties in downtown Winnipeg. To the north of the site is the centrepiece of Chinatown, the Chinese Cultural Centre. There is an underground walkway that connects the site with Winnipeg’s City Hall and Administration Building and the Manitoba Centennial Centre. Directly south of the site is the Old Market Square and the Exchange District National Historic Site. Red River College also has its downtown campus building the Duff Roblin Building, and the Patterson Global Foods Institute, right on the west and south-east sides of the site. A historic caveat binds the south-east parcel (Parcel B) of the Market Lands site with reversionary delegations, which means that the site must be used for public purposes of the City of Winnipeg. Any potential projects and developments for this area need to be reviewed for legal conformity. The Market Lands are within the Warehouse Character Sector of downtown, which permits a variety of uses, but has specific intents: “-to regulate a compatible mix of use -to ensure that the built form is contextual and complementary to surroundings -to highlight the importance of urban design review, which further reinforces the existing values of the surrounding built form -to encourage enhanced pedestrian comfort through urban design” (CentreVenture, n.d.). There are particular building codes in terms of height, variance, and yard sizes for this area of the sector. As the Exchange District is a national historic site of Canada, the area has over 150 turn-of-the-century buildings, within 20 blocks. Many of these buildings have elaborate facades and are made of buff brick, Tyndall stone, terracotta, red brick, granite or sandstone. Over the last ten years, the neighbourhood has added condominium and rental apartments to some of the historic buildings, increasing the population of this area to 2,200 residents. The Market Lands are right in the heart of the cultural district, known across Canada for it's visual and performing arts scene. The Exchange District is the home of many galleries, artists, and performance venues such as The Cube, Artspace, the Centennial Concert Hall, and more.


One of the challenges for this project, similar to any new development, is to find a balance between public aspirations and market conditions of the space and environment in which it will be situated. All of the competition entries were developed with the feasibility of redevelopment in mind (CentreVenture | Urban Design Framework, 2018).


The goal of the project is to design a space on the rich historical site of the Market Lands that draws people to the area and celebrate the area’s history. The space should be a creative hub and centre for local commerce. It is intended to be a space that connects communities and reflects the diversity of the surrounding area (CentreVenture | Urban Design Framework, 2018). “The Market Lands should: Belonging: -Provide affordable and attainable spaces for a mix of uses. -Achieve a sense of place that’s inclusive, welcoming, and comfortable. -Strive for multiple uses and flexible space - ‘something for everyone’. -Ensure public, open, and permeable spaces at the ground level. -Be safe and accessible for all. Destination: -Strive for a greater critical mass of people living, working, learning and playing in this area. -Create a place that draws people in, and becomes a gathering spot for the community. -Return to its history, as a centre for social interaction and local commerce. -Achieve something unique, to be a draw for citizens and tourists. -Establish a new point of pride for the entire city. Authenticity: -Respect the rich architectural history of the Exchange District. -Advance reconciliation and celebrate Indigenous culture. -Protect and enhance the artistic foundation of the area. -Draw experience from the diverse communities that surround the site. -Build upon the local, independent business tradition of the neighbourhood. Connectivity: -Enhance the visual and intuitive connections between Chinatown, Old Market Square, Red River College buildings, and the Exchange District. -Create opportunities to draw districts together - north, east, south, and west. -Improve multi-modal circulation and access in the area - transit, vehicular, active transportation. -Better integrate the site with the surroundings through urban design. -Focus on accessibility and the pedestrian experience to, from, and through the site. Innovation: -Showcase new technologies in buildings and public spaces. -Integrate public art in a meaningful and impactful way. -Strive for architectural and design excellence. -Support the community of innovators establishing in this area. -Make advancements in winter-city celebration and adaptation." (CentreVenture | Guiding Aspirations Report, 2017)


The City Council determined in 2009 that the Public Safety Building was no longer adequate for the modern police force, and it was declared surplus. After this, the City decided to build a new police headquarters, on the site of the former Canada Post Building on Graham Avenue. The Civic Parkade was also deteriorating and was found to have structural issues. The City decommissioned the Civic Parkade in 2012, leaving it and the Public Safety Building vacant and waiting for a new future. The Market Lands initiative was started to help find what the future of this site may be, as it is an important historic site within the heart of downtown Winnipeg (CentreVenture, n.d.). The project officially began with the announcement of the Market Lands Design Competition on July 1, 2018. CentreVenture Development Corporation sponsored the competition. CentreVenture selected architect Dudley Thompson of Dudley Thompson Consultancy to coordinate the competition, develop the framework, guidelines, jury selection, and evaluation criteria. An Expression of Interest was posted internationally, and the jury received over 150 enquiries from 35 countries. Five finalists were selected and proceeded to submit their proposals, which were presented on December 7, 2018 (CentreVenture, n.d.).


CentreVenture completed the first phase of public engagement and then released the Guiding Aspirations Report in May of 2013, which highlighted their findings of peoples’ desires for the site. They then continued to the second phase of public engagement, asking citizens and stakeholders how they would like to see the site be used and how it should be physically reconfigured. The end of this phase resulted in the development of the Urban Design Framework. The Urban Design Framework provided the physical structure for future placement and sizing of buildings and spaces. The framework also established direction on how the site should respond and connect to its surroundings and created critical circulation paths (CentreVenture | Urban Design Framework, 2018). The Urban Design Framework highlights ‘five big moves’: to open up the site to Old Market Square, re-establish the Market Avenue corridor, strengthen the movement to and from the north and west, reinforce urban edges, and focus density northward (CentreVenture | Urban Design Framework, 2018). The winning entry, designed by Daoust Lestage Architects, included an elegant Market Building, with a sustainable residential building to the north. The jury found the addition of the residential building to create a strong response to the context, urban grain, and morphology of the site. The plan of the site creates a clear continuation of flow northward toward Albert Street and Old Market Square. The plan includes a visual connection to the Red River College buildings, Old Market Square, and City Hall. The design highlights an open and bright Market, which is intended to be flooded in sunlight all day and all year. The new market will be open and exposed to the surrounding streets and urban edges (CentreVenture, n.d.). The new market building is to be built overtop the historical shadow of the original market building. It will be simple, but with functional areas on all sides of the market building, to be used for market day expansions. The market building is simple, with plenty of glazing. Transsolar assisted in the design process and contributed to sustainable planning; the mixed building has solar atria winter gardens, cross-ventilation, and the market building has a hanging second-level greenhouse. The jury found that the massing of the buildings seamlessly fit in with the massing of the surrounding buildings, and appreciated the bright modernism design that reflects the adjacent modernist City Hall precinct (CentreVenture, n.d.). The design highlights and includes the following: Market Lands: where two iconic urban fabrics intersect, acting as an urban hinge between the Old Market Square and Market Ave. Market Square: Historical traces of the inhabitants of Brown’s Creek and the historic Market Square are revealed through the ground treatment of the contemporary intervention and the urban figure. The urban figure: the new market will be inscribed on the historical traces of the old market. The buildings north of the Square are oriented on the east-west grid, which helps reconnect with Elgin and Market Avenues. The strategy of a porte-cochere also is employed, which formalized a connection to Chinatown to the north. The Public Market: composed of a glass box slanted and framed in resonance with the orientation of the two city grids. The north and south walls are permeable and showcase the internal activities. Permanent kiosks are located on the south facade, to make the activities visible and activates William, Princess and King Streets. Suspended on top of the kiosks, an internal garden offers space for annual production and greenhouse opportunities. There is an open hall to the north for program flexibility. The Creative Hub: this section consists of the Urban Shaman Gallery, and frames the north-east corner of the plaza. This section directly responds to the Old Market Square and the Cube, making for a strong axial cultural statement. The urban carpet surrounding the market building will provide a space for external exhibitions to extend the gallery past the internal hall’s capacity. The affordable housing building: the units are laid out to provide maximum flexibility and universal accessibility. The unit is composed of two slender sliding volumes, which stand behind the market place, providing a backdrop. The affordable housing unit includes a vertical community garden, local masonry cladding, and louvred transoms to the corridor provide through ventilation for each unit. Integrated public art: a two-dimensional artwork by an indigenous artist is proposed on the glass facade of the vertical community gardens, in the representation of the history of the Market Lands. The design also proposed an audio work to be incorporated into the structural framing of the market, to blend native and non-native content. The design of the market building in itself includes the transparent facade of the Urban Shaman Gallery, making its exhibitions visible to the public from outside. The Energy Hub: The market, the plaza, and the multi-use building are all interconnected with the use of existing underground foundations that have been re-utilized. This allows for retained sustainability strategies and an energy-efficient ensemble. (Daoust Lestage, n.d.).


CentreVenture Development Corporation is an agency of the City of Winnipeg, whose mandate is to lead the planning, development and implementation of projects relating to the Downtown area of Winnipeg (CentreVenture, n.d). The role of Daoust Lestage was to be the project and design architects. After the announcement of their award for the project, they continue to work with CentreVenture and the City of Winnipeg to move forward with the design for Market Lands. The Daoust Lestage team was a collaboration effort with Entuitive, Transsolar, Tetra Tech and Rina Greer (Daoust Lestage, n.d.).


Ever since Winnipeg was founded, from 1870 to 1919, the Market Lands site was one of the most important hubs of commerce and trade, with a civic market square building and multiple commercial businesses. As Winnipeg’s population boomed, there were more merchants, traders and wholesalers located on Main Street. The full-scale commerce district is now known as the Exchange District. When the City of Winnipeg was officially founded in 1873, its first money-raising by-law included provision for the construction of City Hall, Market House and the Police Station, all for $20,000. Alexander Ross owned 100 acres of the Market Lands site, and sold it to the City of Winnipeg for $600, with the guidelines that the property be used for a “suitable Market House.” (CentreVenture, n.d.). Adjacent to the first City Hall, the first public market was opened in 1877. Until 1919, this market was an important civic institution, managed by a committee of City Council known as the Market Committee/Court. The market was deteriorating and damaged, so in 1889, the committee met about building a new market. On the site of what is now the current Public Safety Building, a new market building opened in 1890. This space was the home of plenty of commerce, and also provided a forum for gathering. During the WWI, anti-conscriptionists gathered there, and trade unionists gathered there during the Winnipeg General Strike of 1919. After WWI, there was greater access and transportation of goods, meaning there was no longer a need for a public market building, and some even believed it was just becoming a gathering place for ‘agitators.’ Until the 1960s, Winnipegers could still purchase goods from vendors around the building, that had since been expanded into a civic office building (CentreVenture, n.d.). In 1959, Winnipeg’s City Council voted to support an urban renewal project that would include the demolition of several blocks and the construction of new arts and cultural facilities and a Civic Centre complex. The Winnipeg Civic Centre began its construction in 1962, which included an open plaza that would separate the Administration Building and the City Hall, along the Market Street axis. The Greater Winnipeg Metropolitan government was meant to be housed on the site of the current Public Safety Building, this was dictated in the original master plan. However, in the early 1960s, there was an increased desire to replace the city’s main police station, which was located on James Avenue at the time. In 1964, the city approved funding for a new police station on the site of the Public Market Building and was completed along with the Civic Parkade in 1966. Over time, across Main Street, more major public facilities were being constructed, such as the Manitoba Museum, the Manitoba Theatre Centre, and the Centennial Concert Hall. Other urban renewal plans were envisioned, which included projects all the way to the Red River, but were never acted upon (CentreVenture, n.d.).


Centre Venture. (n.d.). Retrieved August 20, 2019, from Daoust Lestage | Market Lands. (n.d.). Retrieved August 20, 2019, from Kuwabara, B., Smoke, E., Mathieson, A., Kiernan, J., Tate, A., Vun, Z., & Stenning, A. (n.d.). Market Lands Design Competition | Jury Report(Jury Report). Retrieved August 20, 2019, from Report Dec 21 FINAL.pdf Market Lands Guiding Aspirations Report. (n.d.). Retrieved August 20, 2019, from Lands Aspirations Report.pdf Market Lands Urban Design Framework. (n.d.). Retrieved August 20, 2019, from Lands Urban Design Framework March 2018.pdf Daoust Lestage. (n.d.). New Market Square Concept Statement. CentreVenture. Retrieved August 20, 2019, from zukusers/user-26532000/documents/5c06fee86e6efSjH81zZ/Daoust Lestage Concept Statement.pdf.