Engagement + Leadership
Architecture is a de facto political act - or so we tell ourselves. But our profession's long retreat from public discourse has has prevented us to employing our skills and insight to solve the critical issues of our time - climate change, resource management, social justice are all things designers can address and work to solve.
As a part of this, sometimes off the sides of our desk, we engage the public and our clients (and our families, to their never-ending chagrin) on larger issues or experiment with placemaking on a microscale. Here are some exampes of our recent engagement activities
On The Rivet
"On the rivet" means to be be on the front end, the very tip of your saddle, giving it your all. The expression dates from when saddles were all leather and rivets held the leather in place over a steel body.
Much of our work and experience is centred on helping communities envision and build recreation and cultural centres and - ultimately, we hope - a rich sense of community. Increasingly, we are convinced that for recreation centres, the bike is going to prove an important adjunct to the core programming the aquatic and community centres provide. We haven't quite perfected our thesis yet, but we have been able to refine our thoughts in a few venues, including the Recreation Foundation of BC's Harrison Workshop. (Title slide below.)
Vancouver is Canada's Los Angles, you know. Except that it rains a lot. And there aren't any freeways. And we're not as big. And well... maybe we're not like LA at all, except in the mind of the rest of Canada.
But being like/unlike LA has advantages. In particular, the chance to ride year-round, and we're an office of enthusiastic riders. (Cruise our site just a bit more, and this should be obvious.)
One of the things we delight in is Vancouver's HUB Bike To Work Week. We're eager participants in that event, have sponsored and staffed the Broadway-Commerical bike station, and just generally vocal supporters of HUB's work in spreading the good word of cycling.
The revolution is coming, and it's got two wheels and a top tube.
Putting On The Dog
Part of being out there is to get out there. This was the thrust of Ian's talk at Pecha Kucha (video below). It's easy to fall into clichés on this topic, but in this case they're true: the world is as you make it and is better when we're engaged.
Architecture has limits, yes, but its agency and capacity is enough to help us meet the challenges of our time.
Metro Vancouver Transportation and The Transit Referendum
We were proud supporters of the Metro Vancouver Transit Referendum calling for an increased funding for Transit and the improvement to public transportation in the Lower Mainland. While the issue of transportation is complex and the proposals offered were imperfect, we collectively felt that there are once-in-a-generation opportunities to shape our city. One need only look across the pond at Toronto and witness the tumult of the Scarborough expansion to understand how important transportation is in shaping a city's future.
The referendum has come and gone, of course, and in spite of our contributions to the campaign - door knocking and mainstreaming - did not pass, but we remain hopeful and certainly there continues to be strong support for improved transit across the region.
Next time, baby. Next time. (Read more about the Referendum here.)
* Bruce went to school with Michael Heeney and Michael was Ian's AIBC Intern Mentor.
And also... Vancouver is a small town.
The sidewalks on the 700 block of East Hastings are unusually wide. (Like could accept a bike lane and landscape edge wide.) So in our never-ending effort to engage with our <ahem> colourful neighbourhood, we put out a couple of tables and chairs, sometimes magazines. People seemed to enjoy a spot to sit in the sun, and frequently asked before taking the magazines away. Only one chair was stolen.