Urbanarium provides Metro Vancouver with a platform for the discussion of ideas and issues about the planning and design of communities - how our urban systems and the forces acting on them work, what urban futures might happen and what we can do to affect those outcomes. We create competitions, debates, studios, talks, maps and tours that help us discover more about ourselves and our cities.
Our intention is to become a respected place for advanced urban conversation and reliable information without political or ideological bias.
The Vancouver Urbanarium Society acknowledges that Metro Vancouver is the unceded, traditional, and ancestral territory of many First Nations including 10 local First Nations: the Katzie, Kwantlen, Kwikwetlem, Matsqui, Musqueam, Qayqayt, Semiahmoo, Squamish, Tsawwassen, and Tsleil-Waututh. The modern housing crisis has its roots in the colonisation of Metro Vancouver and continues to displace Indigenous peoples. As an organization that focuses on city-making, Urbanarium knows that how we relate to the land we occupy matters. We are engaged in active discussions about reconciling our relationship to colonialism. Our programming and other outputs will work to reflect and honour Indigenous perspectives and elevate respectful approaches to land use and land rights planning, policy, practices and governance.
How is Urbanarium organized?
Vancouver Urbanarium Society is a registered charity led by an 18-person Board of Directors made up of architects, landscape architects, planners, developers, community organization leaders and other professionals who are passionate about city building. As well, we have 12 distinguished individuals on a Board of Advisors and 100 plus energetic and committed volunteers.
The Urbanarium started and continues to be led and supported by the interests, time and financial contributions of many individuals, organizations and companies.
We are currently in the process of Strategic and Succession Planning. A big part of this is diversifying our Board of Directors, a working Board that steers the organization through fundraising, programming and governance. We are actively seeking Black, Indigenous and People of Colour to join our Board. If you are interested in getting involved please write firstname.lastname@example.org
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.
Urbanarium 4.0 came when we hired our first executive director in 2020 bringing us closer to our goal of becoming a permanent and more valued institution in Metro Vancouver.
Where is Urbanarium?
In the future Urbanarium will provide a physical setting for exhibits, studios, debates, education and media production. At present, Urbanarium is a catalyst for the creation of events and projects, supporting organizations and residents in Metro Vancouver that are passionate about citymaking.
What is the official status of Urbanarium?
Vancouver Urbanarium Society is a registered charity. The Urbanarium's charity registration number is 83332 5830 RR0001.
Rositch Hemphill Architects
Adera Development Corporation
Marcon Investments Ltd
BTY Consulting Group
Wesgroup Properties LP
Brook Pooni Associates
Henriquez Partners Architects
Leslie Van Duzer
James Cheng Architects
Mellenger Interactive Ltd.
Amy brings experience in capacity building, government relations and programming to the Urbanarium as its first ever executive director. Prior to this she was the executive director of Inclusion BC Foundation and has held resource development positions for a number of cultural institutions in Western Canada. As the former president of Artspeak, she has been recognized with a Mayor’s Award for Board Member of the Year from the City of Vancouver.
Bruce Haden is an architect and urban designer in Vancouver.
Bryce is a principal of Rositch Hemphill Architects in Vancouver, is active in community issues and loves to ski.
Marta Farevaag is an urban planner and Principal at PFS Studio interested in the integration of planning, landscape architecture, and urban design.
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.
Scot Hein is the University of British Columbia’s Urban Designer and teaches in the Masters of Urban Design Programme.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Brad is the SVP Development of Wesgroup Properties, responsible for overseeing project design and execution, community consultation and government relations. With a background in Urban Planning, has been involved in the design and approval of 4,000 homes and over 4.5 million square feet of built space.
Catherine Alkenbrack is the director of Facilities Planning at UBC, working to develop comprehensive planning models for new and renovated facilities.
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.
Ian is a founder and Creative Director of Rethink Communications.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.