Emerging Talent: RHAD Architects

Photo by Doublespace Photography

When she launched a solo practice in August 2010 out of a room in her house, Rayleen Hill, MRAIC had little idea where it might lead. “I pictured doing small residential projects—interior design, kitchens, that sort of thing,” says Hill.

The Victoria Park Pavilion is a skating shelter in Edmonton. Photo by Jim Dobie

Just six months later, she won a prestigious international design competition to build one of five park pavilions for the City of Edmonton. It was a game-changer for Hill, who moved into an office in downtown Dartmouth and added the $4.2-million Victoria Park Pavilion to her to-do list.

Fernbrae Barn, a new residential project. Photo by Doublespace Photography

But even as her three-member team doubled down on the multi-use pavilion, which opened in 2015, Hill maintained equal focus on the smaller residential projects that still form the bulk of her practice. Her mission statement includes the words: “Create powerful moments that can be brought into everyday life.” It’s a value that she holds close, no matter the size of the project. “We always drive home the point that even if a client has a small budget, they don’t need to think small in terms of design.”

t Spirit Spa Hydrostone, RHAD partnered with Studioworks to create a six-storey infill that combines a three-storey spa, two floors of commercial space, and a residential penthouse.
Photo by Doublespace Photography

Hill’s current portfolio is a mix of small and large, old and new. The firm recently took over downtown Dartmouth’s second-oldest building, renovating the 1797 wood-framed house and turning it into its office. For a dramatic six-storey infill project in Halifax’s historic Hydrostone neighbourhood, Hill designed a three-level spa, two levels of commercial space and a stunning penthouse. The eclectic mix also includes a public art project to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Halifax explosion in December 2017, as well as Fundy Gateway, an interactive tourism and interpretive centre to be built in Truro, Nova Scotia.