Joining CUI host Mary W. Rowe for our next session in our ongoing series: What is the Role of Architecture in the Urban Recovery?- are Shirley Blumberg, Partner at KPMB; Ryan Gorrie, Senior Associate at Brooke McIlroy; Sam Oboh, Principal and Vice President of Design Intelligence & Client Design at Ensight + Architecture and past President of the Royal Architecture Institute of Canada; and Daniel Pearl, Founding Partner at L’Oeuf Architects and Professeur titulaire, School of Architecture at Université de Montréal.
What is the Role of Architecture in the Urban Recovery?
A roundup of the most compelling ideas, themes and quotes from this candid conversation
Note to readers: This video session was transcribed using auto-transcribing software. Manual editing was undertaken in an effort to improve readability and clarity. Questions or concerns with the transcription can be directed to email@example.com with “transcription” in the subject line.
Mary Rowe [00:00:28] Hi, everybody, it’s Mary Rowe from the Canadian Urban Institute, really pleased to be welcome you to another CityTalk on what is in Toronto an absolutely beautiful fall day, not to make the rest of the country or- or in the case of one of our panelists who’s in the what she was telling me was the rainy climes of southern France. We’re just having a beautiful Ontario day, one of those lovely days that you love to have in October. Toronto is the original territory of the Mississaugas of the Credit, the Annishnabec, Chippewa, the Haudenosaunee and the Wendat peoples. It’s now home to many diverse First Nations, Inuit and Metis. It’s covered under a couple of treaties. One is Treaty 13, which was signed with Mississaugas of the Credit and the Williams treaties that were signed with multiple Annishnabec nations. And Turtle Island is like all of- all of Canada has ancestral history and traditions and a territory that continues to be held by indigenous people. And in fact, we have unceded territories in Canada and we often have people on these sessions who are in unceded territories. And part of the challenge for us, I think, is to how do we come to terms with the legacies of exclusion and discrimination that have perpetually been perpetuated by a lot of urban city building practice, including the one- the one discipline that these folks all are part of: design. So I’m going to be interested to hear them to tell us about this, about how are we going to come to terms with that legacy and also how do we actually correct and amend it for the future. So this is one of those moments, I think, you know, I’ve been using this hashtag, no more excuses. All the preexisting conditions in cities that were not functioning well, that were languishing are now made all the more worse by the impacts of COVID. And are we gonna be able to sustain and actually emerge from this extraordinary global challenge in ways that make us more equitable, more sustainable, more just and more livable? And the design profession has a huge, huge role to play. So I’m really thrilled to have these four joining me today to talk about this. Interestingly, I was relating to them in the pre session here that our first CityTalk, and we- when we created CityTalk early in the pandemic late March, early April, the first session we did was on urban design. And it was early. And I don’t know whether we’d had much time to really think about what was going to be altered. In fact, I think a lot of us thought this was a sort of temporary hiatus. We were gonna be in a bit of a sprint. We were gonna get through it and then we would see what the repercussions were. Now we realized we’re in a marathon or as I said to somebody yesterday, I think it’s like a steeplechase and we’re gonna be at it for a while. It seems to be the new normal of peaks and valleys. And how is that affecting us as humans? But how is it affecting us as city builders, too? And how is it affecting our interactions and how is it going to affect our public, our public realm and our built environment? So joining me today, I have four, you know, folks that were up for having this conversation and who are practitioners who are working around the world. In some cases, some are working hyper locally. Some of them are working internationally. It’s one of the interesting things about design is that it’s actually a global discipline, a global practice. And we know that the challenges to Canadian cities aren’t unique, that cities around the world are, are struggling as we are. But we also know that solutions need to be very particular and grounded in community and the particular kind of circumstances that communities have. So I’m very pleased to be co-hosting this or co-sponsoring this with the RAIC, which is the national organization that advocates for the role of architecture and the importance of design in contributing to healthy communities. So we’re very, very pleased to have them as our co-sponsor. And- and they, they have also been involved with us in our Bring Back Main Street campaign, which actually this week just launched its action report. So I’m encouraging people to go to bringbackmainstreet.ca, and you will see there many, many, many, many, many recommendations about what we need to do to invest in our main streets. And it involves all of us, including the design community. Part of Bring Back Main Street was the holding slide you saw that we put up when the session was just loading, which is all about design solutions. And that was the result of a big call that we did with the RAIC to stimulate interest in designers, to work with local communities to figure out what kinds of things could be done from a design perspective that would make Main Streets more accessible, welcoming, vibrant, all the things that we know will into successful neighborhoods. So I encourage you go to Bring Back Main Street. Have a look at the design playbook. Have a look at our reports. Next week, we’re all about Main Streets. It’s like Main Streets all the time next week. Four CityTalks back to back. So get your cup of tea or your sandwich or depending on what time zone you’re in, perhaps a cocktail. And tune in and listen with us about practical ways that we’ve been learning as we’ve been talking to folks across the country about how we can make Main Streets more vibrant and all the different things that we all each need to do as consumers and the city builders and as advocates and community leaders. So I’m hoping that you’ll all tune in next week, once you’ve digested that turkey, you come and you- and you chat with us on CityTalk. So, let’s talk about architecture, can we, and I’m going to start with our group, and I’m probably going to go to the furthest away, which is Shirley Blumburg. We don’t do long introductions on CityTalk, we post them in the chat. So everybody feel free to ask questions specifically of the panel and the chat and their bios are there. So you’ll know that Shirley Blumberg is with a firm here in Toronto, KPMG, and it’s doing- oh, I just said it wrong. KPMB, the- the, the fatal mistake that everyone does, I’m sure, Shirley, all the time is to provide the wrong acronym. It confuses with the national consulting firm. But I know who you work for and if Shirley you can talk to us a little bit about what you’re observing in your practice, what you’ve been observing in your own neighborhood. Just give us a couple of minutes, just to kind of ground what your perspective is and then we’ll have the broader conversation. So over to you, Shirley, welcome to CityTalk.
Shirley Blumberg [00:06:11] Great. Thank you, Mary. And I forgive you.
Mary Rowe [00:06:13] Thank you.
Shirley Blumberg [00:06:15] Disease and urban life have been bound together throughout history. And obviously this has had a profound effect, impact on the design of cities. For example, in the mid 19th century, New York, Olmstead designed Central Park to be, quote, the lungs of the city, to provide both pleasure and significant public health benefit in a time of malaria and cholera. Around the same time in London and Paris, they both, both cities built modern sewer and sanitation systems in response to cholera. And sometime later, Haussmann renovated and reimagined Paris, threw in a vast public works program that brought light and air to all parts of the city. After the First World War, tuberculosis was a key driver in modernist architecture, integrating form with social purpose to create a curative environment. With Coronavirus, we are again at the intersection of urban design and public health. So what have we learned in the past seven or eight months? I’m just going to say, make four points. The first, it’s not the density of cities, but the unhealthy conditions of poor neighborhoods that facilitate the spread of the virus. And we can no longer evade the obvious and urgent need for affordable housing. Second, the virus has accentuated the importance of a generous public realm in our city, a city that should put people first. It’s become obvious that Toronto’s sidewalks are too narrow for social distancing or for us to eat in. The parks have been incredibly important and I’ve never seen them used in this way. Happily, there’s been a great increase in cycling and the city is following up on building further bikes, infrastructure, cycling infrastructure. So that’s great. Happily, there’s been a decrease in the importance of cars and it’s very clear again that public transit has to be thought about a lot more, a lot more detail, more carefully. Third, the virus has revealed the incredibly positive impact on the quality of our natural environment. If the use of fossil fuels is dramatically decreased, let’s use this opportunity to advance the elimination of greenhouse gas emissions, which are pushing global warming to alarming levels. And last, with respect to architecture and design, the virus has taught us how crucial it is to design healthy, sustainable buildings with 100 percent natural ventilation. Our lives depend on it. Thanks.
Mary Rowe [00:09:07] Thanks, Shirley, very much for that. Some historical perspective, as you suggest, the link between public health and urban design. I often talk about when people want to count cities out. I always try to remind people that these kinds of challenges have confronted cities for gener- for a millennia. And cities morph and they change and they adjust. And many of us will remember that cholera was a rampant problem in London until a doctor wandered over and had a look and realized it was a local water source that was actually contributing to people getting cholera, getting water from that pipe. And that led to a collective of water sanitation and water treatment programs around the world. So in Canada, we’ve seen that around public health and immunization, all those things. So thank you for that. Important that people be reminded of that. Get some perspective. OK, Daniel, let’s talk to you now. This is Daniel Pearl and I think, Daniel, I think you’re coming into us from Montreal, am I right?
Daniel Pearl [00:09:59] Yes. And that- if it looks a bit bizarre, there’s a map of the city of Barcelona in 1859 by Cerda, exactly addressing what Shirley talked about, the idea of bringing maybe, Cite-jardin, first version, you know, Ebenezer Howard had his version. And this was an idea literally going back to a time when sewers were just coming in within a five to 10 year period afterwards and even Cerda’s design had changed. And we’ve been working with the Urban Ecology Agency of Barcelona, both our firm L’OEUF and also at University of Montreal for the last 50 years, on how to really bring back the pedestrian and the respect that they deserve in the city. And I think that that’s something that Paris is now looking at. And he’s been working in cities all over the world, including here in Montreal. So I just wanted to start off with thanking Shirley for bringing up those issues. For me, I’d say as both professor and partner in a firm, we have to foster cooperation and leadership. This is a time where there is a void, especially to the south of the border. And I think one of the elements that we’ve been doing, it’s an experimental practice, L’OEUF, through pilot projects as well as education and co-learning with communities and particularly listening to the creativity in other disciplines. So we’ve been pushing interdisciplinary creativity for quite a long time. So I guess that for me, it’s the how and the where. Because, you know, architecture, urban design is context specific. You know, when people talk about heritage back in the 1980s, I remember it was very stylistic. And when Duco Momoh started with the idea of talking about these kind of sociocultural, socioeconomic part of history and almost like the definition of genius loci, what makes really something particular about place. I think we’ve lost that a lot in this globalization. So I think COVID is a wonderful opportunity to have the slow down in one sense and revisit our neighborhoods that we all go and walk. And there was a wonderful article recently published in The Guardian by Sir Norman Foster and really talked about, I’d say, the magic of this city, almost bringing back the sociological perspective from Richard Sennett, the idea that these cities are one of the most greatest humankind creations. And that’s based on trust and mutual respect, diversity and also maybe First Nations think about long term thinking that everything has to be thought out for seven generations and not just for tomorrow morning’s budget. So in our particular practice set up, I would start off, we were involved in a wonderful project, C40 Reinventing Cities, Montreal competition. A large team of us won about a year and a half ago, and it was really based on we can’t just have net zero buildings. We need a building to become a leitmotif to change a neighborhood and to work with the neighborhood and co-learn with the neighborhood. And that’s something that maybe as Norman Foster said, this is a chance to speed up those experimental projects that would have happened anyway. A second one is we’re working on an innovative social housing project. Affordable housing here in grant Griffintown downtown Montreal, where for the first time we’re going to be doing an envelope, that’s designed to handle 72 hour power failures and keep people in their units in the midst of summer, in the midst of winter, and there are really crazy climate here in Montreal. A third form of innovation is in one of the winners with firm Lapointe Magne of Lab-ecole, which is that kind of a new how to experiment with primary schools and the whole idea that interdisciplinary activity starts in kindergarten in grade one, where food and sports and culture are entering into the conversation all around the way we design our schools and connect them with the inside and the outside. And with that, we won another competition on the western edge of Montreal with Lapointe Magne for a new city hall library and aqua center. And I think we’re most important is the space in the center of that is a public realm in what is normally suburbia. And the idea that public spaces are going to be the key to relaunch. So many components of our lives maybe to finish the component I do as a researcher with our students. We’ve been looking at the Lachine Canal in Montreal; its whole industrial heritage. And it’s been- it’s starting to disappear. And I don’t think it’s a question of fighting it on a kind of simply historical level. I think it’s understanding the roots of the industry in Montreal and envisioning a new green infrastructure. So we’ve been working with students and actually projects on the idea of urban agriculture, industrial ecology and specifically local circular economy, how we actually just find a way to support this idea, because our biggest carbon problem in Montreal and Quebec is in our food and our waste and our transport. It’s not actually in our buildings, persay, as far as energy’s perspective concerned. So really, how can architects facilitate and lead this discovery? Rediscovery is what I think it’s allowing us to do. Thank you.
Mary Rowe [00:15:17] Thanks, Daniel. And I’m interested at this notion of co-learning with neighborhoods. I want to come back to you and talk with you more about that. I’m just going to remark that, you know, when you have sessions with architects, you- you, I guess it must just be part of your way of operating the vernacular that you have, that you live a lot with your history and that you talk a lot about precedent. And you talk about so that- I, you know, I, it could have been a drinking game for me to wait to see how- up until, how long until one of you said Ebenezer Howard or I’m- I’m waiting for Le Corbusier, I’m waiting for whoeve’s going to be the first to say that. All right, Sam, let’s go to you. Sam, I see two flags behind you. I’m pretty sure you’re in Edmonton. I don’t think either of those flags are the city of Edmonton. I’m assuming you’re gonna tell us what two flags are behind you and welcome to CityTalk. We’re keen to hear your perspective. And I hope you’re going to tell us about the flags. And we heard what the map was behind Daniel, and I want to hear what the flags are behind you.
Sam Oboh [00:16:09] In-interesting. Thank thank you, Mary. I wasn’t expecting you to ask that question, but since you asked it, yes, I’m in Edmonton. Lovely weather, beautiful city and the flag behind me- I’m actually in the consulate of Botswana in Canada. So that flag raised, the flag of the Republic of Botswana. And on the other side, of course, the flag with the maple leaf, right.
Mary Rowe [00:16:33] So are you the consul general to the- Botwana in Canada. And that’s in Edmonton.
Sam Oboh [00:16:40] Yes. Is in Edmonton. Yes.
Mary Rowe [00:16:42] How fantastic is that.
Sam Oboh [00:16:43] Everything does not have to be in Toronto, which is the center of the universe, you know.
Mary Rowe [00:16:47] Yes. including, thank God, Botswana. Let’s- yes. And yes, absolutely. I mean, we are the Canadian Urban Institute. We’re in the connected tissue business and so we’re determined, as you suggest, to continue to remind people that it’s not all about Toronto. So, so true. So talk to us Sam, tell us what you’ve been observing, both in terms of your own neighborhood in Edmonton, but your practice and your engagement with other places around the world. We’re very interested to hear.
Sam Oboh [00:17:10] Yeah, it’s actually interesting. I think there is a kind of commonality in a lot of things happening around the world. What we’re seeing is, COVID has actually exposed a lot of fracture and the strength and the resilience that we see, right. You know, within our various community. It kind of reminded me of a whole lot of things. You talked about how architects, you know, look at history and precedents, maybe without repeating what Shirley had- had mentioned, Shirley would probably know that way back in South Africa, right, you know, which, you know, we have a common link with- fear architecture is actually a very interesting thing that shapes the way our environment is. The whole, you know, urban design, domestic design, and virtually every kind of design is actually driven by that. So a few examples I’ll give. So there’s that very strong connection, like Shirley has mentioned, between diseases and how we shape architecture. One very good example that Covid exposed was the initial level of ignorance, not fear of not knowing anything about the disease that shapes things. Reminded me of during the colonial era in Africa, where malaria was actually one of the diseases that they needed to contend with. So you have these Europeans coming to Africa, knew nothing about malaria, but there were all this conspiracy theories on all these, you know, very wrong assumption. And one of the most- the funniest one was the whole idea that, wow, OK, putting it in context, in Africa, for instance, you have, you know, a lot of the buildings and resident- residential areas are actually bungalows. And, you know, on the ground level, you know that. Great. So someone came with the bright idea among the colonial administrators that, oh, if you actually elevate your building and you have your bedrooms on the clean- on the open floor, you’re going to be free from malaria. And, you know, what happened was just the opposite. And they realized that some of the solutions was cross ventilation and all that. Now, the point is this is not new, what we’re seeing with COVID. What I find very interesting is, interestingly, I was just comparing notes with Mouzhan Majidi, who is the CEO of Zaha Hadid that we’re currently doing, you know, some very interesting initiatives right now. And pre-COVID and post-COVID, we have seen changes in programs. We are doing a project right now in Punta Cana, a research project, right. And within the research project – before COVID, because this started our own march or thereabout with all the- all the requirements was, oh, we need these very close, intimate spaces. I know that. Fast forward three months later. The program is changing. We need much space. We need social distancing. So what’s happening in the immediate sense, actually, you know, affecting it. It’s not any different from what’s happening in Edmonton, you know, so well. And interestingly, you know, seeing the level of construction, you know, that is going on and virtually a lot of things happening. So I think we’ll have the opportunity of talking about this. The concept of less is more is becoming very relevant. You know, right now. The whole idea of, you know, existence minimum. Right. You know, that has always been, you know, something that has shaped architecture in history, especially in- in- in dwelling, you know, in residential architecture is definitely something about it. And lastly, talking about the architecture and the impact it has over the urban space. I still remember way back in Nigeria because I schooled in Nigeria at the Ahmadu Bello university and Ambrose Alli university. During the 80s, this, a lot of cities were terrorized by armed robbers. Right. Hijackers. And as a result of that, people now started violating, you know, the- the bylaws and the ordinances that require the defenses around your domestic areas shall not exceed one point two meters high and all that. And people started erecting high fences, you know, on their own. And that shapes the architecture of a city like Lagos in Nigeria, which Rem Koolhaas actually did a lot of research work, that you have to actually understand that some of these cities, when you use the Western paradigm, right, in judging what how those cities are set up, we are going to get the wrong conclusion. However, if you understand how those cities are really set up within, you know, the chaotic nature of business wastelands, then that you actually know that there is a system there, that actually works and is still driven by fear, fear architecture as much as possible. Thank you, Mary.
Mary Rowe [00:22:01] Lots that you mentioned there that is so interesting. We have a couple of Nigerian people in the chat, just so you know, Sam, so your home- your home country is loyally following you. And this, one of the questions I want to ask the group coming back is to the extent to which the built environment actually shapes our values. I bet you guys you’re going to say it does. But I want to hear specifically how you understand that and this whole notion of fear, as you just suggested, that architecture has historically been used to instill fear and I think. So, these are not- these are not good legacies for you guys to have to take apart. OK, let’s go to you, Ryan. I think you’re in Toronto, am I right?
Ryan Gorrie [00:22:34] I’m not. I’m in Winnipeg.
Mary Rowe [00:22:35] Oh, my gosh. See, there you go. I just did what Sam suggested. I just made it only about Toronto. Sorry, I thought you were with a Toronto firm, so I made a wrong conclusion there.
Ryan Gorrie [00:22:44] No, you made a correct conclusion. I am with Toronto Firm, but we have an office in Winnipeg and one in Thunder Bay.
Mary Rowe [00:22:50] Well I hope that Brook and Anne forgive me for not acknowledging that. So it’s great to have you with us. And I’m looking forward to hearing your perspective from Winnipeg, where the mosquitoes are big. But you must be excited now because the mosquitoes are going to be replaced by snow very soon, probably, right?
Ryan Gorrie [00:23:04] Yeah. I guess that’s all we’re known for.
Mary Rowe [00:23:07] Oh, no, not all.
Ryan Gorrie [00:23:09] I think, you know, listening to the other folks speak, I kind of went to a dark place in terms of disease and and really thought back in terms of historical, you know, how disease has really aided in the colonization of Canada, used- you know, intentionally and also going to connecting disease and architecture, looking at how structures and systems like residential school are really experiments against Indigenous people and intentionally utilizing disease in that way, you know, grouping people together so that the effects of tuberculosis could be unveiled and studied. And- so. Sorry. I went to a dark place, but I couldn’t help but-
Mary Rowe [00:23:59] That’s okay! I think this is- this is part of the legacy that we’re dealing with. These are instruments that can be an instrument of oppression or liberation, I guess. Right.
Ryan Gorrie [00:24:07] Yeah, of course. And I think what’s really come kind of, that COVID has really laid bare personally is, you know, I have two young children. How do we become schoolteachers in times- at times? How do we teach them about this- this kind of pandemic disease? How do we respond to their questions about when is this going away? When can I be with my friends and family and all those things? But it’s also exposed, you know, our desire to be outside, our desire to connect with the land. You know, we have a little bit more immediate opportunity here in Winnipeg, in near Selkirk, where I live. And it’s really also created the opportunity for knowledge to be shared. I mean, technology is an amazing tool when used properly and being able to learn, you know, language, cultural understanding. Knowledge keepers are able to share for those who are proficient, you know, with a broader audience, whereas before we’d have to travel to get to those places. So that’s been an incredible opportunity, engagement in general. You know, we’ve had several opportunities where connecting with clients is, you know, we really have to tune our presentations in our content to ensure that we’re reaching the maximum amount of people and in some cases, you know, mailing out our presentations far in advance so that people who are not online, who are just on the phone can engage with what we’re doing. You know, seeing in our day to day lives the ghost town that has become our cities. And then, you know, really seeing what- what are the bare bones activities of our cities, you know, our vulnerable populations who are out there on the streets. And it really exposes those fractures in our society. So, you know, really grateful that the project work continues. You know, there is always that uncertainty that we weren’t going to be going forward with some of our projects or that new projects wouldn’t be coming up. But, you know, really grateful for those opportunities. You know, where it- where it’s been reflected in architecture a lot in mechanical systems. You know, we hear about air quality, really a primary concern. And really and in outdoor spaces allowing the amount of circulation and spatial separation that permits this kind of gathering. But I mean, this is- we all hope this is temporary. You know, we’re all hoping that this is going to be a, you know, something of the past and that we’re able to return to a sense of normalcy. So always holding out that hope. But also, you know, travel slowed down for me. You know, I did find myself in Toronto every couple of weeks at- which was great for projects. Hard on the family. But, you know, looking forward to that in person engagement again, because, you know, seeing that we can do it all online, that’s great. But we really don’t want to miss out on those personal connections and opportunities, especially with community. And lastly, I’ll just say, you know, we are talking about urban, but, you know, these are centers for our remote communities, too. And really having those communities in mind when we’re thinking about, you know, the creation of space and trying to figure out, you know, what is- what does the future look like? It really has laid bare for those communities, you know, that there are gaps in health care, gaps in housing, you know, things that we already know. So I think the exposure and laying bare all these things has really been eye-opening. So I’ll stop here.
Mary Rowe [00:28:00] Thanks Ryan. So I want to ask and just want to encourage people in the chat, direct your comments to our panelists and attendees, if you can, so that everybody sees them, because there’s probably somebody on the chat that’ll answer your question more quickly than we can get to it. So by all means, post everybody if you can. And I want to ask a question about the role of the designer in- in how society actually is constructed, because one of the constraints that I worry about is that you folks work for clients. And I’m interested how, you know, we’re in seven months into a global pandemic. I don’t have a sense that the architectural profession is leading in providing solutions, at least not visibly or not in the popular media you’re not. And I’m curious about that. Tell me if I’m wrong. If you think you are, then let me know. But part of my instinct on that is because you wait for your client to give you the mandate to do it, as opposed to actually initiating it yourself. So, Shirley is shaking her head. Talk to me.
Shirley Blumberg [00:29:05] Well, I think this is what I’m actually incredibly excited about, despite all the misery that COVID have brought. Architects are incredibly relevant again. I think even pre-COVID in terms of the extraordinary challenges; inequity, climate change, migration, etc, etc. We can actually have a tangible impact on this. We actually have the skills of synthesis and this is the kind of work that we do to actually have an impact. So I think for the first time in my career, we’ve never been so relevant. And in our office we- a few years ago we started a kick in the lab and we’ve been exploring all these issues of climate change and also social justice projects. But we’ve done affordable housing. We’re working on Indigenous housing as well. We’re looking to cast a much wider net. And frankly, the young people in our office are super interested in this because I think everyone really is looking for meaning in their work. And so I would say it’s true that we also have to make a living and pay our stuff and so on. But what’s so interesting is our institutional clients are demanding much more of us now as well, in terms of diversity and inclusion, in terms of justice and equity, in terms of, you know, issues of again, climate change, sustainability, etc., etc.. So I think it’s actually an incredibly exciting time. And I’m really hoping that the profession will change because it has to.
Mary Rowe [00:30:59] Other people think I have a view on that. Ryan, what about you? Do you see that happening in your profession?
Ryan Gorrie [00:31:07] Good question. I mean, I feel like, you know, a lot of the work we do is with- with municipalities and institutions. I guess, I would like you to. Sorry, I’m- I had a point, and now it’s leaving me.
Mary Rowe [00:31:31] Don’t worry. And that happens to me all the time. But you’re younger than me, so you don’t have the age excuse. Can I- here’s a question, I guess. Some of you were poking around on this. It’s the question of the power relationship, I guess. You know, that the client- the client is a municipal government. Go ahead, Daniel.
Daniel Pearl [00:31:48] I think we’re very lucky here in Quebec. We have a massive amount of competitions, very, very active, both pure architecture competitions with engineers and landscape architects. And the C40 competition was quite the experience because we were working with developer Pomerleau Builder, working with Ivanhoe Cambridge, Cogir. These are not necessarily people who would have started with the understanding that the client, the community, the context and understanding ethnography are the keys to actually unlocking a neighborhood. And I think that there was as much co-learning in our team during the competition as there will be in the real project going forward working with the community. It took a lot of effort to say that the ground floor should be given back to the city and that- that that actually is getting the foot traffic. With foot traffic, we can get education and co-learning. With education, we can change our footprint way beyond just the footprint of the building itself.
Mary Rowe [00:32:53] But can- can you be instigators, Daniel, that’s I guess what I’m- I’m yearning for. I’m yearning for-
Daniel Pearl [00:32:58] We need to be invited by that role.
Mary Rowe [00:33:02] Yeah. I’m yearning to hear your voices championing with communities how design can make for a better outcome. And I’m wondering what it’s going to take, Sam. What do you think?
Sam Oboh [00:33:12] Well, I think it’s happening on different layers, Mary. So we can talk on the micro level, which is at the various firms. Right? That’s one aspect. But there’s also the macro and the global perspective. Depending on where you are, there are actually various architectural organizations, various architectural firms, you know, that are actually at the forefront. I’ll give you an example. You know, having been fortunate, we’re partnering with a firm called small. in London, six miles across London Ltd. And we got invitation by the Ugandan governments to actually look at a few things that is related to the interface of, you know, architecture, the built environment and technology. The whole idea of autonomous vehicles, the whole- you know, so historically, if sometimes if you’re not involved with those kind of initiatives, you actually don’t realize that architects are actually behind the scene moving, bringing up, you know, these ideas and creating all this integration and coordination. That’s on one level. There’s also the other level where, you know, fortunately, I sit on the board of the AIA international region and I’m a representative to the ecology of fellows. With the American Institute of Architects is doing. It’s- it’s actually something that is very delightful to actually see that we have an organization that hold authorities to account. Right. You know, making sure that, every day, you know, in the capital, you know, that there’s a representative from the AIA saying, you know, these are some of the things that need to happen. The whole idea of, you know, making sure that the Sustainable Development Goals, right, you actually, you know, address. We also have for the first time, right, in the history of profession as far as I know, even though I’m still relatively young in the profession, there’s a strong synergy between UNESCO, UNHabitat and the architectural profession, and especially with what people like Tom Vonier, who is the president of the International Union of Architects, is doing. We now have this whole idea of design cities which UNESCO is sponsoring. So if you are hosting the International Union of Architects, right, the whole idea of, you know, a city of the- design city of the year. Right. This year was going to be São Paulo. Sorry. Rio de Janeiro was going to be the design city of the year where you actually bring the attention to a whole lot of things. These are all initiatives, you know, that were driven by architects in different places. I can go on and on, but the whole thing about the instigators, absolutely. As architects, you know, most times we operate behind the scenes, you know, rather than being in the forefront. But make no mistake, we are also encouraging a lot of architects at the macro level. I see it as a zipper kind of strategy. When you zip things, you know, every layer right, matters. So, at the macro level, at the micro level, they are all very important. And I think, yeah, that’s-
Mary Rowe [00:36:17] Well and I- and I’m hearing Shirley say that, that within her client relationships, within her projects, she can bring in a whole other set of considerations. You folks do have opportunities to influence decisions that your clients are taking, I understand that. What I’m wrestling with a little bit, is it’s a heavily credentialed profession and one of the things that we’re seeing is this call for more equitable engagement and that neighborhoods that have not had public investment and have not been afforded beautiful striking buildings, your beautiful striking buildings. With the exception of public libraries, where I think your profession has suddenly emerged as being a contributor to a common, beautiful element that everyone has access to. But that’s why I’m wrestling with, is how do you do the interface with community? So, Ryan, has the thought come back into your head that you were going to make?
Ryan Gorrie [00:37:06] Well, maybe it’s another thought. You know, in all our work, the idea of advocating for Indigenous voice within projects, you know, we see a lot of art piece come out that have the requirement for, you know, Indigenous content or, you know, and there’s a full range within there. There’s from a, you know, this needs to reflect some Indigenous motifs, to we need a full Indigenous architect engaged in this project. So what that- this is all post TRC type of- of wording, you know, where institutions and communities are making commitments to reconciliation and inclusivity. And there’s just such a diverse requirements within these calls. You know, for me on a- on a day to day level, you know, and, you know, understanding Indigenous histories and culture, you know, really it’s about having meaningful engagement with communities. You know, and preferencing Indigenous voice in these conversations in a meaningful way where it’s, you know, without tokenism. And, you know, in some cases, people don’t know what they’re asking when they’re, say, Indigenize me. And I heard this from a friend of mine who said an elder said, and this is a very stark statement saying, if- if you want me to Indigenize you, I have to take your children. And, you know, that stops everyone just like. Like, think about what you’re asking. And really, it’s about relationship building, right? It’s not just saying, you know, sprinkle this requirement here and there. So, you know, seeing. But, you know, it’s exciting to see that, you know, really close collaborations with Indigenous artists, with Indigenous architects and designers, you know. And this process of of relationship building to help create more inclusive environments, to have places that are more reflective of original peoples, languages, culture. You know that this, this place has a history that’s far beyond any of us in terms of the longevity and the relationships and the interconnections and incredible knowledge embedded in this land that we know that all Canadians should be- be able to engage with in a positive way. And I guess, yeah, that’s kind of really, really where I see my practice going in terms of advocating for this inclusivity. And you know, we’re seeing these things laid bare with, you know, during this- during this pandemic, you know, with Black Lives Matter, black and Indigenous people of color, you know, these issues being raised and the things that are- that are coming up. So there’s- there’s a- there’s been an incredible momentum of agency or at least the feel that we need to to be better agents for ourselves and advocates. So, you know, it’s an exciting time and a very turbulent time. What time is it?
Mary Rowe [00:40:29] Yeah, I get it. Yeah, exactly. Wait fifteen minutes, it’ll be the other way. So in terms of this idea of working from the ground up, you know, I’m- I’m a grownup urbanist. I’m all about investing in the local. Can you- can any of you just venture from your perspectives as designers what you see the potential to be for design, to actually impact neighborhoods as opposed to iconic buildings that tend to be in other sites. Thought on how- yes, Daniel, on how the practice could actually- how you could bring to bear, you mentioned pilots, Daniel, can you talk a bit more about that?
Daniel Pearl [00:41:00] I also think it’s the notion of architecture and architects going beyond architecture into green infrastructure. I mean, if you don’t have the bicycle paths, if you don’t have the urban ag, you don’t have the community involvement and the buy in from the ground roots. There’s one amazing story. Salvador Rueda, working in De Gracia in Barcelona, tried to get rid of in a neighborhood the car, and the people were fighting it. So he set up 50 community meetings, you know, roundtable meetings over two years. And in those meetings, everybody talked about the need for deliveries because their complexity, all their ground floor activity is really at the heart of that neighborhood. The artists and the artisans. And so they worked out how to get all the deliveries without using trucks. But in that 50 week process, they actually became friends. They had the battles and they built a spirit. I went to visit the neighborhood within a year and a half later on a Saturday morning to see a space with no cars. But instead, what I found was three hundred people doing ballroom dancing on a Saturday morning. And the ballroom dancing didn’t come from the zoning change, it came from the building of a community from the ground up. And the architects have to actually get involved. So we look at ways our practice, our students, everybody realizes the magic is in the emotive component because everybody is going to turn around saying, well, I have to walk an extra five or 10 minutes to get my car. I mean, there’s always going to be that thing. You have to see the other side. You have to see the magic.
Mary Rowe [00:42:36] So what do people think about how you could democratize the process of design? Catherine Soplet has- has put in something about Penciler, which is a pilot program that CMHC was initiating that actually CUI facilitated with the city of Mississauga, to have- to start to have a conversation about how people can start to use visualization, technology and work that community people could work alongside professional designers. Shirley, I’m interested in your practice. Have you guys tried that? And is there- is there some way to break the barrier down and to create these relationships that Ryan and Sam have been advocating for?
Shirley Blumberg [00:43:12] We haven’t tried something as direct as that, but I’m a huge believer in working with community. And I was doing some affordable housing for TCHC, which is now almost all built. And at the time, they had a policy that affordable rental apartments could not have balconies. It was an operational problem, wasn’t our sort of block. So in a public meeting with all the residents, I brought the issue up. There was, let’s say a vigorous exchange, would be putting it mildly. Turns out they’d been requesting balconies for three years though the whole consultation process that they had.
Mary Rowe [00:43:58] Right.
Shirley Blumberg [00:44:00] By the end of the meeting we had balconies. And so now TCHC does balconies on the apartment building. So I think that’s crucial, that kind of involvement from the community. Jane Jacobs had a great saying that I love: cities have the capability of providing something for everybody and only because, and only when, they’re created by everybody. So my partner, Bruce Kuwabara and I, had a extraordinary experience recently when we competed in the competition to design the new Art Gallery of Nova Scotia, in Halifax. And what we did is we teamed up with an architect there, Omar Gandhi, who used to work with us and has a practice there, a young architect. And we created a very different kind of a team and a different way of working than we have ever done. So as Ryan had mentioned, you know, the Mi’kmaw people go back thirty thousand years. And it’s very important to be building from the ground up. We use that phrase a lot and tapped into the deep history of that region. And we- on our team, we invited the wonderful Elder Lorraine Whitman and also Jordan Bennett, who’s both an artist and a Mi’kmaw. And we also had fantastic consultants, a wonderful landscape architect, and we basically co created the concept. We’ve never done anything like that before. And it was- it wasn’t easy. There were certainly stumbling blocks, but it was so extraordinary. And when we landed up, we would not have created a building like that. Had we done it the way we usually work. So I think for us, that was an extraordinary kind of experience to see how we could look at things differently in a much more inclusive way.
Mary Rowe [00:45:57] Interesting whether that will transform your practice, Shirley, beyond just this one project. You know, could you all, as professional architects, insist on-.
Shirley Blumberg [00:46:06] I think so.
Mary Rowe [00:46:07] – these processes going forward, right. So that any piece of work you take on now is going- is- has to have as a minimum? These kinds of engagement. Sam, any thoughts on that in terms of your experience?
Sam Oboh [00:46:17] Oh, yeah. I mean, the- you probably noticed that since the death of George Floyd, there’s this whole thing about inclusivity, as if it didn’t appear, right you know, before. And now there’s that there’s awareness right, you know, from clients, you know, asking for that tokenism of, you know, inclu- inclusivity. Now, one of the things to actually put at the back of everyone’s mind is when you look at cities like Detroit, for instance. Right. That’s, you know, got affected with the exit of the, you know, the automobile industry and a few things that were happening at that time. It took, you know, the ingenuity of a few black architects, for instance, who are most disproportionately affected. Right. You know, to create nonstandard kind of practices or practices where you have social workers, right, you know, as part of the design team. So the whole consultation that, you know, Shirley was talking about earlier takes a different tone because you have people. As architects, we should see ourselves as interpreters. Right. You know, we interpret things. We’re not gone on the days where, you know, you actually impose rights. You know, this is what you think is right. You know, the whole idea of you talk about democratization, which is kind of very interesting concept that, you know, that is debatable, but that’s engagement. That inclusivity has to happen at different layers. There are a lot of things that is happening in the industry right now that is actually quite encouraging. Right. That there is that awareness. But we don’t stop at that awareness because the people that most likely need the services of architects the most are the people that don’t necessarily have the means to afford, you know, that kind of thing. And this is where the public agencies actually come in. I mean, something as basic as a balcony, for instance, if you have to have a session, you know, Shirley to have that, you know, for- for a very large city that tells you we had that problem. And so being able to actually break down the barriers. Right. Being able to break down the barriers of, you know, some of this issues, right, is something that is really very important that architects are at the forefront. So it’s all about leadership. Right. The, you know, the leadership is also all about achieving value for money. Right. When you look at it, you know, at the end of the day, we have to be very accountable. We have to be very prudent. It’s about that. It’s also about corporate social responsibility. There has always been a concept of corporation shared responsibility is not about just providing one outwalk or one artifact, you know, there. And you say, well, you know, I’ve done that. It’s about, you know, encouraging the right level of oversight. So for organizations like TCHC or some of those organizations that actually are the big players within the organization, that oversight to say, hey, you know, what is your contribution to the community, making sure that no one is left out? It is about also setting adequate benchmark. Right. You know, you talk about the whole benchmarks, right? Right now, COVID is an opportunity that has actually given an opportunity to set new benchmarks. And we’re seeing it all around the corner. So I think inclusivity is really very important, but it shouldn’t be addressed from that very cosmetic angle that everyone is doing. You know, Ryan talks about, you know, the TRC, which is actually something that happened in South Africa, you know, almost, you know, a decade and a half before it happened in Canada. When the Truth and Reconciliation Commission actually did, it was really quite interesting, you know, how it happened. And the kind of revelation that came and how do you address some of those issues? So those Truth and Reconciliation Commission recommendation in terms of breaking the barriers. You know, even though the implementation in South Africa was a little bit slow. But you can see the advancement where you go to a lot of the township. You know, you go to Khayelitsha, you go to Soweto right now. I mean, I was in Soweto, you know, last year. It was kind of interesting to see how some of the aspects of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission has been implemented. I mean, one of the- what we call the Skytrain in Vancouver, you know, is there you actually have the World Cup, one of the stadium just outskirts, you know, Soweto, right. So at the end of the day, this inclusivity is going to be something that will keep happening. Right. And it’s also related to the whole democratization of the profession. You cannot design for people- I always tell our clients. Well, we have sessions. The clients will spend more time in the building that we design more than we the architects. We have, you know, the amount of time we spend on project is actually limited. So perhaps they actually have something to contribute, right, that we have to listen to. Right?
Mary Rowe [00:51:20] Perhaps. Perhaps. OK. Well, when the time is remaining, I’m wondering if we can focus on what you would say would be a kind of doable goal. I’m interested, Sam, in your comments about accountability. I worry that we will squander this moment. We have a moment of pause where a whole bunch of profound challenges are being put in front of us and that we have to come to terms with. And I have a very big expectation of your profession that you will be out leading, and you’re design thinkers. You have incredible skills and expertize to offer to us as we navigate this process. And it can go- it can go either way, right. We can go to- we can go to the systems that are just as Top-Down and just as hierarchical and just as excluding as we’ve had for three or four hundred years, or we can go in a new direction. So if you were to prioritize in your own minds and your own practices, how are you going to practice differently and how do you want to influence your peers to practice differently? Daniel, can you take a stab at that?
Daniel Pearl [00:52:19] I think showing our commitment to innovation, that’s related to the context. So sometimes when we’re working on affordable housing, we have to be incredibly innovative on prefab in order to bring down the pricing, so that we can invest in the landscape, so we can invest in the people being able to control their future so that a building is built with flexibility from day one, so that it can become net zero on some level. But way beyond net zero, how if they start become a leader and become a local developer. I think that whole idea of empowerment of the most important clients is maybe our biggest challenge. I think architects, we’re facilitators, we’re people who bring the dreams to the people and show them the power that they have.
Mary Rowe [00:53:05] I love that to be true, Daniel. I love this idea of designing for empowerment and the idea that you would actually strategically be saying affordable housing crisis; solution maybe prefab and modular. We’re going to end climate and net zero. Those are our priorities. And we as designers are going to double down on our efforts to make that happen. That’s tremendous. Ryan-
Daniel Pearl [00:53:24] And our students, our students are also trained to graphically communicate to them, to give them the skills.
Mary Rowe [00:53:30] Right, so that everybody buys in. OK. Ryan, thoughts on what you think we should be doubling down on in the next period of time as we muck through?
Ryan Gorrie [00:53:39] Yeah, well, I think that education is key. You know, I’m always speaking from a perspective of bringing more Indigenous people into the design fold. So it’s you know, it’s been really thrilling and- and interesting working with a lot of young Indigenous designers who have come and gone in our practice. And most of them are women, which is really encouraging. And, you know, particularly here in Winnipeg at the University of Manitoba, there are a dozen or more Indigenous, I believe a dozen. But more Indigenous students who are taking up and taking up the practice and really leading the way. You know, there’s some really strong voices up and coming, and I’m really glad to see that happen because we need it. You know, proportionally, there’s only 20, 25 Indigenous architects in Canada. And, you know, we need- we need to make sure there are ample voices in that advocacy role in that space shaping role moving forward.
Mary Rowe [00:54:55] Yeah. I just want to remind people that, you know, this is not a fast process. You know, recovery from this is going to take, it’s going to mark our professional lives. People like me at my stage, this is the balance of my work life will be focused on this. And for people earlier in their careers, this is going to have an indelible impact on. If you’re young and you haven’t decided what you’re going to do, don’t think it’s too late to get into architecture school and as Ryan suggests, contribute to what the read- the rebuilding is going to look like and it’s going to look quite different. Shirley, what about you for the next little while? What are you going to be focusing on? What do you want your firm to keep focusing on? What do you hope your peers in other firms will focus on?
Shirley Blumberg [00:55:29] I think I think what’s great about now is that there has been a profound shift. And I think architects realize they are citizens first and that while we serve the clients, we actually are beholden to the greater public good first. And I think that’s a shift in the profession for sure. And I think with the- the social justice projects, the urgency of providing affordable housing, all the things that we spoke about, the character of our practice is changing. I think our university clients are all over this and looking at all the issues of diversity and inclusion. Justice and equity. We’ll need the justice and equity bit before you can get to diversity and inclusion. But it’s- what we’re doing is we’re saying that it’s happened. Particularly recently this year, the social upheaval, hopefully for the- for the betterment of society and COVID, is we’re actually examining everything about our firm. Reexamining everything and looking at how we can become even more diverse, add more diversity in our leadership. What are the opportunities? How can we contribute to solving some of these problems? So it’s, I think it’s- it’s, I’m very, very optimistic and I’m very optimistic when I talk to young people in our office. And I hope, like Ryan has said, because under the McEwen school at Laurentian, also is trying to attract Indigenous students. And I hope more and more Indigenous young people come into the profession because we really need them.
Mary Rowe [00:57:25] You know, I love this idea of some kind of a declaration that might come out of the design profession saying here’s what we’re committed to, Shirley. I think if you’re going to eat, it sounds like you’re doing a significant audit. I wonder if that isn’t something we can all be doing. It’s like a city audit on our own, wherever our purview is, our household or our business, or are we seriously coming to terms with where we’re deficient and what- what- what we have to- what corrections we need to be making. Some of the suggestions you and Ryan have just been making. All right, lastly-
Shirley Blumberg [00:57:52] Yeah, that’s exactly what we’re doing. Yeah.
Mary Rowe [00:57:54] Yeah. Like it’s just- just like a taking stock. Right. And then, but then we have to be committed to go further and actually make corrections and make the changes. And I’m interested about, you know, there was a move called Architecture for Humanity years ago. Could there- could that surface again in a renewed way for you to lead a kind of groundswell of responsiveness to the challenges that COVID is presenting. Sam, last word to you in terms of what you would be focusing on.
Sam Oboh [00:58:20] Well, I think, you know, the whole idea of a charter right, is definitely something that we think we have all the ingredients to make sure that it happens. I’m actually looking forward to a profession that will actually stand up to the challenges that we’ve just mentioned, which, you know, we deal with things, you know,around human rights, you know, the labor laws, the environment, and also things like, you know, anti-corruption and bribery, which is part of the sustainable development goals, right. You know that you have the- bringing it to that macro level. I think, you know, we need to have champions and we are all champions. Right. You know, they’ll actually steer the profession in the right direction. So for every opportunity we have with clients is a matter of just nudging them in the right direction. Have you considered this, have you- it’s as simple as that, something, that awareness first. Having that awareness that, you know, inclusivity, justice. And, you know, the whole idea of having something that is equitable, right, you know, for everyone who is good for the entire society is the, you know, barrier free, you know, society that you need where someone that is in a wheelchair is there. I mean, for the first time in Canada, we had a budget that was focused on, you know, gender. Right. Which is female. Quickly, like previously we used to place in Edmonton and focus is given on, you know, the cars and way m- do. But right now the focus is actually, you know, with the women and the children and pass passive, you clear that first before you pledge yourself, or something as simple as that. So I think is work in progress. I actually believe that, you know, there is hope. This is an opportunity for us to change the dynamics of how our profession is practiced more than ever before.
Mary Rowe [01:00:04] Yeah, I think that you, it’s an- it’s an interesting moment for all of you as leaders in your profession and as you suggest, you- you- you have enormous potential and you have an enormous privilege that we all operate in. We can influence and then we can have all these kinds of potential impacts on communities and how- how much of a burden that then places on folks to then be extra conscientious and really focused on how we make these processes more inclusive and more just. So I want to thank you all for doing this with us. And I want to check in with the design progression in four months and see how you’ve advanced this, how you’re doing on your internal audits and how you’re doing on bringing your peers along and how you’re doing on transforming the progression, just as each of you suggested. So thanks for joining me, Daniel Ryan, Sam and Shirley. Really great to have you as part of CityTalk. Encourage everybody to check back later on canurb.org and you see this video will be posted and some of the questions will be posted and takeaways and this conversation that never stops. This is only the beginning at hashtag CityTalk. Next week, we’re back for Main Street. It’s all about Main Street. Next week, really, where the wor- literally when we’re on the ground. Sessions on operational trends and actions for retail recovery on Main Street, small business friendly practices for Main Street, Rapid placemaking to bring back Main Street and then playing it in urban design for pandemic recovery all next week. So here’s a phrase that I used to use from Jane Jacobs. She said, “A problem in a city is work that still needs doing.” So my addition is let’s get busy. Thanks very much for joining us on CityTalk everybody today. Have a good day.
Daniel Pearl [01:01:34] Thank you very much.
Mary Rowe [01:01:34] Thanks to RAIC for sponsoring.
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From Canadian Urban Institute: You can find transcripts and recordings of today’s and all our webinars at https://canurb.org/citytalk
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12:02:27 From Abby S: Abby from Toronto saying hello
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12:04:22 From Stuart Filson to All panelists: Hello from London!
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12:04:56 From Toby Greenbaum: Hello from sunny Ottawa!
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12:05:17 From David Ejeh: Hello from Nigeria
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12:05:44 From John Stephenson to All panelists: hello from Thunder Bay
12:05:56 From Irena Nikolova: Great topics of discussion, keep th conversation going a,
12:06:01 From Canadian Urban Institute: https://bringbackmainstreet.ca/
12:06:10 From Bernard Bigras to All panelists: Bonjour from l’Association des architectes paysagistes du Québec.
12:06:29 From Heather Smith to All panelists: In Toronto too but happy to see Daniel Pearl who I remember well from my time in Montreal and McGill.
12:06:35 From Canadian Urban Institute:
Shirley Blumberg, KPMB
Ryan Gorrie, Brook McIlroy
Sam Oboh, Ensight+ Architecture
Daniel Pearl, L’Oeuf Architects
12:08:26 From Canadian Urban Institute: Reminding attendees to please change your chat settings to “all panelists and attendees” so everyone can see your comments.
12:14:21 From Abby S: I love the ambition to go beyond net zero
12:17:06 From Abby S: Dontcha just love zoom?
12:17:49 From Susan Chin: Architects as designers and leaders!
12:19:02 From Negin Minaei: They just need to pay more attention to the urban ecology and people so their designs are nicely context-related.
12:19:37 From Andrew Mills: KPMB We’re going to need you back for our new Central Library building in Saskatoon! Love the proposed design of the new Art Gallery of Nova Scotia!
12:21:00 From Hanaa Ali: Interested to know more about the balance between architectural INNOVATION/HEALTH/COST when it comes to affordable housing solutions that can engage developers and produce the needed amount of units
12:23:08 From Yakubu Aminu Dodo to All panelists: Good day all
12:23:57 From Abby S: Your food festival in winter….
12:23:59 From Toby Greenbaum: Don’t forget the Ballet
12:24:06 From Yakubu Aminu Dodo to All panelists: Yakubu Aminu Dodo from Istanbul Gelisim University, Turkey
12:24:31 From Canadian Urban Institute: We love your comments and questions in the chat! Share them with everyone by changing your chat settings to “all panelists and attendees”. Thanks!
12:24:34 From Hanaa Ali: Spot on RYAN!
12:27:47 From Yakubu Aminu Dodo: Goodday all Yakubu Aminu Dodo from Istanbul Gelisim University, Turkey
12:28:04 From Abby S: Covid-19 may be temporary, but science seems to be indicating that more pandemics will emerge. Some of our behaviour is going to change permanently I suspect…
12:28:16 From Michaela Jones to All panelists: Agreed Ryan!
12:28:59 From Hanaa Ali: When one thinks about the unregulated residential schools, the architecture and practices that lead to a significantly high death rate of children of over 30% according to Dr. Bryce’s report.
12:29:25 From David Ejeh: Though the COVID19 pandemic was and still has a Global impact, I am of the opinion that our different Cultures, more than ever, would provide unique interpretations and solutions to the challenges of urban design. Put differently, our culture is key in developing solutions to urban design challenges poised by COVID19.
12:29:27 From Michaela Jones to All panelists: How do we keep the personal connection and build community concensus when we are all isolated particulary on projects
12:29:42 From Rick Merrill: I would be interested in knowing how the fact that staff is working from home, eliminating the important aspect of discussion and testing in an architectural office.
12:29:58 From Abby S: @Hanaa Even our own schools today were not built addressing physical space in ways that are safe during pandemics.
12:30:26 From Susan Chin: How do we change our mindset and culture becauspermanently changed through the adaptation to disease and how does architecture
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12:30:37 From Gil Katz to All panelists: When should we expect office buildings to become vertical gardens?:)
12:30:53 From Abby S: @susan 👍🏻
12:30:55 From Toby Greenbaum: Architects may be relevant, but architects remain invisible.
12:31:09 From Canadian Urban Institute to Gil Katz and all panelists: Thanks, Gil! Can you send that again to all panelists and attendees so everyone can see and discuss? Thanks!
12:31:14 From Hanaa Ali: @Abby yes. Much to be done to address enclosed public spaces, schools, stations etc
12:32:07 From Gil Katz to All panelists: With vertical gardens they can sell the vegetables – just a business model change:)
12:32:17 From Abby S: Do you need to bring the engineers into the discussion?
12:32:19 From Susan Chin: How do we change our mindset as designers that we’ll return to “normal” to use this time to address cross cutting issues of equity and environment?
12:33:04 From Irena Nikolova: I would be interested in finding out how architects will contribute to the growth of virtual offices. We will be working in virtual reality for another year, two or more. Some companies have moved to online work indefinitely.
12:33:04 From Gil Katz: When should we expect office buildings to become vertical gardens? With vertical gardens they can sell the vegetables – just a business model change:)
12:33:39 From Negin Minaei: I’ve seen many twitter and Instagram accounts from cities and companies that had design competitions for architectural solutions and some of them have been published actually. But it was couple of months ago based on the data that was available back then so most of the design solutions did not consider the covid19 as an airborn transmitting disease, they only thought about touchless designs and physical distancing.
12:33:52 From James Wood: Do architect associations have public outreach committees?
12:33:58 From Irena Nikolova: I would prefer mor gardens on the ground, where they really belong.
12:34:00 From Lorne Cutler to All panelists: Given that all governments are going into great and that there are limits to debt capacity, how do you see the balance between design and functionality on institutional buildings when better design can often cost more.
12:34:20 From Michaela Jones to All panelists: Question for Ryan – how is your practice of architecture informed by different ways of knowing? vs traditional architecture which looks to precedents
12:34:22 From Lorne cappe: I would like to hear how architects are working directly with residents of the city on architecture and urban design during the time of Covid
12:34:53 From Lisa Landrum: Yes! The “archi” of the architect embodies leadership.
12:35:32 From Suzy Godefroy to All panelists: What about more gardens in our downtown cores? Unfortunately I have to sign-off to go to another meeting – enjoyed todays talk! TY everyone and have a great day!
12:36:19 From Gil Katz: Looks like a lot of heritage buildings are being renovated these days. Is there a warehouse somewhere where all of the antennas that used be on them in the 1800s are stored? Are they being brought back slowly?
12:36:22 From Michaela Jones to All panelists: How can architects make space to listen to others vs ego driven?
12:36:28 From Irena Nikolova: We may have a lot more space on the ground if we continue to work virtually. I would like to see those spaces turned into parks and gardens in downtown Toronto….. the density her has already arched maximum capacity.
12:36:59 From Canadian Urban Institute: Reminding attendees to please change your chat settings to “all panelists and attendees” so everyone can see your comments.
12:37:53 From Catherine Soplet: Are any panellists familiar with The Penciler pilot project developed by www.urbanism.com
In December 2019 a presentation by Mississauga Planning Department explored a pilot project for towers in its downtown core – December 2019: Penciler presentation convened by Mississauga Planning Department
12:38:08 From Hanaa Ali: Architects follow the money, since the 80s their work is mostly with developers, and the solutions that are investigating with regards to COVID are all about increasing the Net Operating Income of properties for the benefit of the developer. A transformative change is needed, having more architects working with the city and the communities to bring about meaningful and lasting change.
12:39:27 From Michaela Jones to All panelists: tokenism so prevalent
12:39:51 From TJ Maguire: Thank you for the discussion! Related to Ryan’s point about engaging with communities, and relationship building.How are, and how can architecture practices shift from designing for (Paternal/Maternal), to designing with? Co-creative, equitable, inclusive design processes resulting in humane, contextual experiences (especially on the ground floor). Any examples or suggestions?
12:39:52 From Ted Landrum to All panelists: Well said – Ryan – thank you!
12:41:54 From Craig Goodman: The discussion reminded me of a book on my shelf….from a UofT Geography Professor in the 1970’s…a deeper look at the relevance of technology and history in the formation of Canada….”Let Us Be Honest and Modest: Technology and Society in Canadian History.” Bruce Sinclair , Norman R. Ball , James O. Peterson
12:43:50 From TJ Maguire: The Broedplaatsen (Breeding Spaces) program in Amsterdam is a neat example of activating and animating ground floors. https://whatsupwithamsterdam.com/broedplaats-amsterdam/
12:43:57 From Catherine Soplet: Architects can choose to design-in tree canopy in projects, instead of leaving landscape architecture as a setting. Slides to Mississauga Board of Trade show data map overlay of low tree canopy with high vulnerability and policing, which colocate with higher proportion of residents who recent immigrants , and also lowest decile income. Burning holes in Mississauga’s social fabric were mapped by geospatial staff in December 2019. See slides 7 and 8. In January 2020 the map premised a Public Question to Mississauga General Committee, in connection with its Affordable Housing Strategy: When placing affordable housing, ensure there is a repair to the tree canopy.
Here are slides presented to Mississauga Board of Trade – Environment and Sustainability Committee https://bit.ly/2Y4b9Wq
12:44:24 From Marion Goertz: There’s an old marketing adage that might apply here to help rethink community…”One must build relationship before effective, sustainable transactions can occur”
12:44:53 From Abby S: Didn’t you have that architect (Sweden?) a few weeks ago who brought together constituents from many sectors…professional and otherwise for his firm’s projects ?
12:46:25 From Jelena Garic to All panelists: we need multidisciplinary teams right from the get-go. planners, arch, engineers, etc. etc.
12:46:39 From Jelena Garic: we need multidisciplinary teams right from the get-go. planners, arch, engineers, etc. etc.
12:46:54 From Abby S: Yes MARY!
12:46:59 From Michaela Jones to All panelists: Settlers will catch up to IK one day…
12:47:14 From Canadian Urban Institute to Jelena Garic and all panelists: Hi, Jelena! Can you share that with all panelists and attendees? Thanks!
12:48:41 From Michaela Jones to All panelists: “gone are the days of imposing” YES!
12:48:50 From Negin Minaei: Agreed Jelena, specifically now, we need mechanical engineers with innovative ideas about ventilation to work with public health, health and safety and environmental psychologists to help us to get to healthy design
12:50:11 From Lorne cappe: Clever to take the issue of balconies to residents at TCH – a great example of a meaningful consultation that affects design of architecture. Any other examples anyone else has?
12:50:56 From Canadian Urban Institute: Next week is Main Street Action Week! Check out our Main Street Design Challenge Playbook https://bringbackmainstreet.ca/main-street-design-playbook and all of our events https://bringbackmainstreet.ca/action-week
12:51:41 From Canadian Urban Institute: To support CityTalk and the Canadian Urban Institute’s other city building initiatives, please donate at www.canurb.org/donate.
12:53:09 From Canadian Urban Institute: You can find transcripts and recordings of today’s and all our sessions at https://www.canurb.org/citytalk
12:54:52 From Canadian Urban Institute: Keep the conversation going #citytalk @canurb
12:55:21 From Lisa Landrum: Two initiatives underway from the architecture sector: Canadian Architecture Forums on Education: https://architecturecanada.ca/gallery/ Rise for Architecture: http://riseforarchitecture.com/
12:55:30 From Catherine Soplet: I am so refreshed and hopeful from this panel.
My tweet of maps for you today https://twitter.com/Soplet/status/1314247827531464711
12:55:58 From Lisa Landrum: Indigenous Design and Planning Students Association: https://www.instagram.com/um.idpsa/
12:56:00 From Negin Minaei: Air-tight buildings might not be the healthiest buildings because of ventilation! This should be studied carefully. After COVID19, maybe we should make sure net-zero buildings and green buildings and passive house buildings are safe enough particularly with their ventilation systems without fresh air with cross-ventilation.
12:56:03 From Hanaa Ali: For change to happen we need to fund and empower the Societies of Architects that exists throughout the country but which are currently extremely underfunded. They do not have the power to push forward the change we all want to see.
12:57:02 From Canadian Urban Institute: What did you think of today’s conversation? Help us improve our programming with a short post-webinar survey – https://bit.ly/3nr2Jmd
12:57:39 From Hanaa Ali: @Ryan completely agree, architecture bodies that bring together Indigenous Architects, BAIDA, NOMA are needed to shed light on the inadequacies that surround us
12:58:15 From Darryl Gaston to All panelists: Today’s conversation was educationally enlightening!
12:58:57 From Catherine Soplet: charity ACER Canada made its inaugural installation of community tree planting for limcate change research at social housing in Peel, on October 7 https://twitter.com/Soplet/status/1313481527339159555
12:59:17 From Mark Guslits: Covid has indeed forced us all to re-examine objectives, goals and methodology. Architects in particular must re-think the type of client that now makes sense and the type of body of work that wants to fill the days. It’s an exciting and sobering time.
12:59:35 From Mary W Rowe to Catherine Soplet and all panelists: catherine could you email me please email@example.com
12:59:36 From Mary W Rowe to Catherine Soplet and all panelists: thx
13:00:36 From Daniel Pearl: https://ca.architectsdeclare.com/
13:00:46 From Daniel Pearl: Important website to visit
13:01:14 From Ryan Gorrie: Miigwech all!
13:01:20 From Faryal Diwan: Thank you!
13:01:30 From Lisa Landrum: Thank you all! Very inspiring.
13:01:34 From Isa Abdulah Adam to All panelists: thank you
13:01:36 From Canadian Urban Institute: CUI extends a big thank you to our partner for today’s session The Royal Architectural Institute of Canada.
13:01:43 From John Stephenson: aslo look at Rise for Architecture
13:01:47 From Michaela Jones to All panelists: Thank you – Merci – Miigwech!
13:01:48 From Isa Abdulah Adam: Thanks
13:01:54 From Abby S: Thank you! Already registered for next week!
13:02:04 From John Stephenson: an Architecture Policy for Canada
13:02:07 From Yakubu Aminu Dodo: Thank you all the panelist… Arc. Sam we are proud of you sir
13:02:21 From Emma Ekpo to All panelists: Thanks