About Urbanarium

logo = city + brain

The world is becoming more and more urban, and cities more and more complex. Political, economic and environmental systems are undergoing radical shifts creating added uncertainty in planning for the future.

Urbanarium has been founded by a group of the most committed urbanites in Vancouver, including architects, planners and other citizens who are passionate about city making.

Urbanarium believes in informing, educating and engaging the citizens of Metro Vancouver to help guide decision making to protect our future well being. Urbanarium reaches out to the community to provide it with stimulating and easy to understand information about how our urban system works, what forces are acting on it, what alternative futures might happen and what we can do to affect those outcomes.

Urbanarium has become a respected platform for advanced urban conversation in Metro Vancouver and a place where people can get reliable information without political or ideological bias.

The Vancouver Urbanarium Society is a registered non profit society.

For smart cities.


What is the official status of Urbanarium?

Vancouver Urbanarium Society is a registered charity. The Urbanarium's charity registration number is 83332 5830 RR0001.

How is Urbanarium organized?

Urbanarium is an all-volunteer organization with a Vancouver-based Board of Directors who have a passion for city building and extensive experience leading volunteer organizations. Their resumes can be viewed in “About the Board”. Numerous volunteers serve on task forces and specific projects to advance the Urbanarium mission.

When was the Urbanarium organization formed?

Urbanarium 1.0 was founded in 1985 by Ray Spaxman, former City of Vancouver Director of Planning, with a board of public-spirited citizens. In 1987 the first exhibition and series of live events, Urbanarium: Lost/Unbuilt Vancouver, was held over a three week period at the Old Motor Vehicle Testing Station on West Georgia Street.

Urbanarium 2.0 produced live events in 1990 and 1991, then followed with an ongoing series of debates, retrospectives and lectures, Builders of Vancouver, jointly promoted with the Alcan Lecture Series from 1992-1998. A second group, URBANARIUM…. at the Museum, partnered with Museum of Vancouver to develop annual exhibitions from 1993 through 1996.  

In 2013, during meetings of UBC’s School of Architecture and Landscape Architecture Advisory Board, the Urbanarium 3.0 was revived in discussion to answer the need for an organization that would foster intelligent city building.

Where is Urbanarium?

In the future Urbanarium will provide a physical setting for exhibits, lectures, debates and education. At present, Urbanarium is a catalyst for the creation of events and projects, supporting organizations in Metro Vancouver that are passionate about citymaking.

Who can post events on the Urbanarium “Events” page?

The intention of the Urbanarium “Events” page is to provide a very broad range of content that promotes urban excellence. We will not edit for ideological content, but may screen out events that have a limited connection to our mandate. Urbanarium “trusted event providers” can load events directly to the website without screening. These include some Metro Vancouver municipalities, the UBC School of Architecture and Landscape Architecture, SFU City Program, Vancouver Public Space Network and others. If you believe your organization should be a trusted event provider, please email us.

Will listed events be free and open to the public?

Most events are open to all, but organizations may occasionally post events with limited capacity or with attendance restricted to a particular group. Some events may require advance registration or an admission fee. Always check the specific website information to avoid disappointment!


The Urbanarium is supported by the passion, time and financial contributions of many individuals, organizations and companies.


Alex Bakker

Alicia Medina

Bo Helliwell

Andrea Smith

Bruce Haden

Bryce Rositch

Catherine Alkenbrack

Dan Henriques

Darryl Condon

Debra Bodner

Brendan Hurley

Eesmyal Santos-Brault

Elena Chernyshov

Erick Villagomez

Hans Thiessen

Ian Grais

Ian Ross McDonald

Jennifer Cutbill

Joanna Clark

Joe Fry

Jonathon Cesar

Kelly Gartner

Kim Smith

Laura Killam

Leslie Van Duzer

Lisa Nakamura

Mahbod Biazi

Mari Fujita

Marta Farevaag

Matthew Plummer

Michael Alexander

Pamela Rounis

Patrick Y. Foong Chan

Peeroj Thakre

Rachel Kelly

Rafaela Kirloss

Ray Spaxman

Richard Henriquez

Sam M. Khany

Scot Hein

Shane Galway

Shanna Fromson

Sheldon Rennie

Shelley Craig

Stewart Burgess

Sue Wilkinson

Tate White

Chanhoo Kim 

Thomas Daley

Tom Shepansky

Veronica Gillies

Founding Donors

Rositch Hemphill Architects

Adera Development Corporation

Marcon Investments Ltd

BTY Consulting Group

Wesgroup Properties LP

Brook Pooni Associates

Macdonald Developments

PFS Studio

Glotman Simpson

Bruce Haden

Richard Henriquez

Andrew Gruft

Henriquez Partners Architects

Leslie Van Duzer


Marta Farevaag

James Cheng Architects

Reliance Holdings

Anthem Properties

Rick Hulbert

Mellenger Interactive Ltd.



Executive Director

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Amy Nugent

Amy brings experience in capacity building and government relations to the Urbanarium as its new and first ever executive director. Prior to this she was the executive director of Inclusion BC Foundation and has held resource development positions for Banff Centre for the Arts, Western Front, The Blue Cabin Floating Artist Residency and Vancouver Queer Film Festival. As the former president of Artspeak’s Board of Directors, she has been recognized with a 2016 Mayor’s Award for Board Member of the Year from the City of Vancouver.

Board Directors

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Bruce Haden

Bruce Haden is an architect and urban designer in Vancouver.

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Bo Helliwell

Bo Helliwell has over forty years of experience in architectural design and is the Founding Principal of Blue Sky Architecture.

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Bryce Rositch

Bryce is a principal of Rositch Hemphill Architects in Vancouver, is active in community issues and loves to ski.

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Marta Farevaag

Marta Farevaag is an urban planner and Principal at PFS Studio interested in the integration of planning, landscape architecture, and urban design.

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Richard Henriquez

Richard Henriquez, Vancouver Architect and Artist is the Founding Partner of Henriquez Partners Architects . Recipient of the RAIC Gold Medal, he is internationally recognized for his award-winning, iconic buildings and for his many years of Community Service.

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Scot Hein

Scot Hein is the University of British Columbia’s Urban Designer and teaches in the Masters of Urban Design Programme.

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Sam Khany

Sam Khany is an interdisciplinary urban designer and planner at the City of Vancouver, with experience in land use, transportation and community planning. He has been contributing to Urbanarium since 2014 and is the organization's webmaster.

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Alicia Medina

Alicia Medina Laddaga is an architecture and urban designer/researcher based in Vancouver. Originally from Mexico where she studied and practiced architecture, she moved to Vancouver in 2011 to pursue a Masters of Advanced Studies in Architecture at UBC.

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Nic Paolella

Nic Paolella is a development manager at Marcon. As part of the second generation of his family’s real estate development firm, he is helping build on the successes of the company over the past three decades.

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Darren Yada

As Managing Partner and head of digital planning at Rethink, Darren oversees the strategic direction for the agency and clients within social and digital channels. He leads a team of strategists, analysts and amplification experts across offices in Vancouver, Toronto and Montreal.

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Sara Stevens

Sara Stevens is a historian of architecture and urbanism and an assistant professor in the School of Architecture and Landscape Architecture at the University of British Columbia.

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Andrea Smith

Andrea Smith has been involved with the Urbanarium since 2013 as a volunteer and Administrator. She is the Business Administration Manager at Henriquez Partners Architects, a Chartered Professional in Human Resources and is currently pursuing her CPA designation.

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Chris Vollan

Chris Vollan is the President of Projects for Vancouver based Rize Alliance Properties. Chris specialized in structural engineering and the seismic restoration of heritage buildings in Victoria before evolving into real estate development in the western United States, Alberta and British Columbia.

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Joe Rekab

Joe Rekab is a Partner and Chairman of BTY Group, a real estate and infrastructure consultancy for project delivery, design and construction cost management services in urban centres globally. Joe Advises world cities from affordable housing to health care, transportation to utilities infrastructure.

Veronika Bylicki's picture

Veronika Bylicki

Veronika is an engagement innovator, community builder and sustainability strategist. She is the Co-Founder and Co-Director of CityHive, a not-for-profit on a mission to transform the way that young people are engaged in civic processes.

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Rebecca Chaster

Rebecca is an urban planner with experience in both municipal planning and real estate development. She currently works at Darwin Properties managing over 3 million sqft of mixed-use master-planned development proposals, and previously worked at the fastest-growing cities in Metro Vancouver (Coquitlam, Surrey) and West Africa (Dakar, Senegal). She also volunteers with ULI, UDI, PIBC, and Vancouver’s Development Permit Board Advisory Panel.

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Kari Dow

Kari is an urban designer at the City of Vancouver with 12 years of professional experience in urban design and sustainable community planning. Before joining Vancouver's City Design Studio, Kari was an Associate at Perkins+Will Vancouver, where she managed a number of large-scale, multi-disciplinary urban design projects.

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Michael Mortensen

Michael Mortensen brings 20+ years of development and urban planning experience to his consulting work at Liveable City Planning, leading teams and managing all aspects of the development of transformative mixed-use projects. His experience includes projects at scale in Greater Vancouver, Toronto, L.A., London UK, and Edinburgh.

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Carlos Mendes

Carlos Mendes is a Partner and Co-Chair of the Commercial Real Estate Practice Group and Chair of the Craft Breweries Practice at Singleton Urquhart Reynolds Vogel LLP. He primarily advises clients on the financing, development and leasing of institutional real estate, with a focus on social housing and advanced educational facilities, and the establishment and operation of commercial breweries.


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Catherine Alkenbrack

Catherine Alkenbrack is the director of Facilities Planning at UBC, working to develop comprehensive planning models for new and renovated facilities.

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Dan Henriques

Daniel is the CFO of EnWave Corporation (TSX.V: ENW), a Vancouver-based technology company. Previous to EnWave, Daniel was worked in PwC's Assurance Group assisting public and private clients with financial reporting and taxation services.

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Ian Grais

Ian is a founder and Creative Director of Rethink Communications.

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Leslie Van Duzer

Leslie Van Duzer is a Professor of Architecture in the School of Architecture and Landscape Architecture at the University of British Columbia.

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Ray Spaxman

Ray Spaxman is an architect and planner with over 50 years of experience. Half of his career has been as a municipal planner in England, Toronto and Vancouver (Director of Planning 73-89), and the second half as president of RSC Ltd. providing planning and urban design advice in Canada and Internationally.

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Dr. Gary Hack

Gary Hack is professor emeritus of urban design in the School of Design, University of Pennsylvania. From 1996-2008 he served as dean of the School and is a former chairman of the Philadelphia City Planning Commission. He practices and writes about large scale urban design, and has prepared plans for over 40 cities in the US and abroad. Garry Hack serves as an advisor to the Urbanarium.

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Peeter Wesik

Peeter Wesik is the President of Wesgroup Properties, one of Vancouver’s most prominent development companies, a long term holder and developer of industrial, commercial and office properties. Peeter has over 30 years of experience in corporate law, corporate acquisitions, real estate investing, mortgage lending, and structuring and negotiating complex transactions.

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Carol Henriquez, CM

Carol Henriquez is the Co-founder and former Executive Director of Children’s Arts Umbrella, a visual and performing arts organization for children located in Vancouver. She has worked as a social worker and an artist. She holds an Honorary Doctorate from Emily Carr University and is a Member of the Order of Canada.

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Larry Beasley

Larry is the retired Co-director of Planning for the City of Vancouver. He is now the founding principal of Beasley and Associates, an international planning and urban design consultancy and the “Distinguished Practice Professor of Planning” at the University of British Columbia. He is a Registered Professional Planner in Canada. He is a Member of the Order of Canada.

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Jon Stovell

Jon Stovell is the President of Reliance Properties Ltd. and has been in the real estate investment and development industry for over 25 years working in all areas including acquisitions, finance, civic approvals, construction and marketing.

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Isaac Marshall

Isaac is Principal of AldrichPears Associates, an internationally recognized and award-winning interpretive planning and exhibit design firm.

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Gregory Dreicer

Gregory Dreicer is an interpretive strategist, curator, and historian known for multidisciplinary explorations of cities and society. He is Director of Curatorial and Engagement at the Museum of Vancouver, where his responsibilities include exhibitions, programs, and public access to collections. Dreicer received his Ph.D. from Cornell University’s Department of Science and Technology Studies.

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Mike Flannigan

Michael, who is currently Vice President – Development & Asset Strategies BC Housing, brings 25 years of experience in partnering with different levels of government, not-for-profit and private housing partners, as well as the development community to his role of promoting the creation of affordable housing. Previous appointments include director of leasing and vice-president at Hong Kong-based Henderson Development, and director of real estate services for City of Vancouver, responsible for the City’s $3-billion Property Endowment Fund.

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Mark Busse

Mark Busse is a strategist, communication designer, engagement specialist, and facilitator with a strong belief in the power of curiosity, creativity, conversation, and community as catalysts for positive impact and change. Mark’s career has put him on the frontier of applying design methods to social and strategic questions in business, community and the arts, and he is an outspoken design industry writer, speaker, and activist. As a Director at HCMA, Busse is a member of their interdisciplinary design practice and leads TILT Curiosity Labs, where the firm explores, experiments, and seeks new discoveries, approaches, and opportunities.