Delmore “Buddy” Daye Learning Institute Office

Finalist 2019

This project started with the notion of the Delmore “Buddy” Daye Learning Institute as the collectors and distributors of knowledge related to African ancestry in Nova Scotia. Ghanaian Adinkra symbols are essential in that culture to express ideas. From architecture to signage, from material to finish, the Adinkra woodcuts—used to print on storytelling cloth—informed the architectural and placemaking work.

The individual offices seem to be carved from a large block with a blackened exterior and natural wood interior finish. Book shelves and recesses for equipment appear in a similar manner, supporting the notion of carved elements. At the small scale, stacked inked blocks make up walls. Black and natural wood are the basis of the project’s palette, along with hints of red and yellow, referencing African roots. Simple black-vinyl linework, evocative of screen printing and handmade cloth, provides safety and privacy screening on glass. A sparing use of brass is a nod to Akan goldweights used as a measuring system and fashioned using Adinkra symbolism.

Symbol artwork was created by a type designer fluent in the motifs and symbolism. Appropriate Adinkra symbols represent the organization, and each staffer personally within the space. The symbol panels are transferable, if staff change offices. Graphic patterns for safety and privacy appear throughout, as if hand painted on glass partitions. The environment provides flexible work space to be either open or sectioned off. In addition to culturally-appropriate artwork, the office includes a gallery for the display of contemporary artwork from the community.

Design Firms: 

Ekistics Planning + Design
Fathom Studio


Delmore “Buddy” Daye Learning Institute

Project Area: 

4,500 sq ft

Open Date: 

July 2018

Project Budget: 


Photo Credits: 

Julian Parkinson (photography, videography)

Design Team: 

Chris Crawford (project architect, principal in charge), Rebecca MacKenzie (project leader), Abbey Smith (intern architect), John deWolf (placemaking and signage), Robert Currie (project coordination)


Kwesi Amuti (symbol design)


Avondale Construction Limited (general contractor), Rodney Enterprise (millwork), Eye Candy (signage)

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