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Design Discussions: Lobster Tales

In the fall, FBM began designing office and warehouse space for international lobster exporters, First Catch Fisheries Ltd., within the newly expanded cargo network of Halifax’s international airport. The nature of office space adjacent to a 2,030 m2 seafood export operation requires precise detailing of environmental conditions and presents logistical challenges like controlling temperature differentials, high humidity, and saltwater damage.

The primary goal of any food export is quality. To keep lobsters healthy from harvest and throughout transport, a saltwater “shower” mimics their natural ocean environment and clears away debris. HIA’s landlocked facility necessitated a closed shower system designed by Florida-based Aquatech in collaboration with FBM’s engineering consultant, CBCL Limited. This 2,000 GPM (gallons per minute) shower also creates a requirement for a water-safe, salt-proof floor coating. Sloped floors and a collection trench are incorporated into the warehouse design. A new product packing method virtually eliminates dripping water from the warehouse and storage area floors and airplane cargo holds.

Humidity and condensation due to the fluctuating ambient temperatures and cold storage spaces posed additional challenges that were addressed by treating the 2-4°C refrigerated warehouse as several self-contained walk-in coolers. This cooler-room approach will help First Catch’s corporate offices, located just above the shower room, remain warm and comfortable. Through investigation, research and consultation, this unique facility will adapt a basic warehouse to play a considerable role in lobster exports—a major contributor to Nova Scotia’s economy.


Design Discussions’ is a bi-weekly, virtual event series, for and by FBM. Every two weeks we explore important conversations about the built environment. Collectively these are a way to bring together multiple perspectives and thinking to explore new ideas about how we can build a better future together.

This week's Design Discussion was facilitated by intern architect, Cassie Kent.