If you turn west at the main entrance to Dalhousie's Studley Campus, the Henry Hicks Building rises up at the end of University Avenue, its tower something of an imposing structure that looms over the campus. This building, when it opened in 1951, was the realization of a vision for a grand Arts building that would serve as a focal point for campus.
Dalhousie's Arts and Science faculty had been "temporarily" housed in the University Club since 1921, but by the 1940s the need for larger quarters was unavoidable. The Arts and Administration Building, as it was originally called, was the chief aim of Dalhousie's 1947 Expansion Campaign, and it would be the largest building project Dalhousie had yet undertaken. The building officially opened on December 1, 1951. The building costs had run well over budget, and some Dalhousians feared that costs to build and maintain the 1.5 million square foot building would drain funds available for paying quality faculty, but concerns were quelled and the building proceeded. The cornerstone was laid in 1949 by J. McGregor Stewart, chairman of the Board of Governors.
Architecturally, the new Arts building was in keeping with the colonial style of the other buildings on campus then - the University Club, Macdonald Building, Chemistry Building, and Shirreff Hall. The Arts and Administration building was bright and airy inside, with spectacular views to the south and west; complaints were heard almost immediately, though, many saying that the proportions of the tower were off.
The building was renamed for Henry Hicks in October 2002. Hicks was President of Dalhousie from 1963 to 1980 and steered the university through a period of immense growth, when Dalhousie transformed from "the small college by the sea" into a leading national research university. Under Hicks, a building boom brought no less than ten new buildings to the campus, the costs of which made the former president the target of considerable criticism in later years. Today the Henry Hicks Academic Building houses classrooms, a number of student services and administration offices, as well as the Office of Research Services.