Design Residency in Memory of Tom Sutherland - the Vancouver edition

Each year, we fund an annual design residency program to honour the memory of Tom Sutherland, our former managing principal who passed away in 2015. Tom was passionate about making a difference in our communities, and helped establish this as a core value of our culture. He loved to create in a workshop environment and always led with talent, commitment, and ambition in support of finding the very best solutions for our community. He was also a believer in the importance of investing in young talent. 

The DIALOG Design Residency is an amalgamation of all of those things. 

Students from universities across Canada - and this year, one US institution - are brought to a DIALOG studio to participate in a week-long design sprint, where they are presented with a challenge unique to that city and asked to come up a solution that they will present to the studio at the end of the week. 

The 2020 Design Residency took place in Vancouver between February 17 and 21, 2020. This year's design challenge involved Vancouver's iconic English Bay waterfront. While being a postcard feature of Vancouver's urban form, this beach-lined city edge turns the gaze of residents and visitors outward. The city's core is left behind, absent of the plazas, squares, and markets that typically define urban public life.

Nine students from across Canada and the United States were brought to Vancouver and tasked with reimagining English Bay. This iconic destination within Vancouver is regularly challenged by highly-used bike and pedestrian routes, an influx of summer tourists, and seasonal festivals. Design Residency participants were tasked with developing a strategy to re-connect this space to the city and bring new life to it for Vancouver residents.

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The cohort analyzed the site, listened to guest lectures, and were prodded by questions from our Vancouver studio to embolden their week-long design process. The outcome of their tremendous effort was a new vision of English Bay as a site of sociability, human wellbeing, and environmental restoration.

Have a look through the video, slideshow and final presentation below to learn more about the students' experience during their time in Vancouver, and their insightful solution to the design challenge. 

An unique design experience - wrap-up video

We had a video crew follow the Design Residency participants for their highly immersive week in the Vancouver studio and at English Bay to document the process. 

Watch this short video to see exactly what the students experienced, and what they came up with!

Design residency - a week in photos

A member of the Design Residency team from the Vancouver studio was on hand to capture photos of the experience. Check them out in the slideshow below!

One participant's experience

One of the nine students who participated in the Design Residency, Brittney Lopushinky, an M.Sc. student at the University of Alberta, wrote a blog post about the experience. In it, she noted: "For myself, being a structural engineering student, I felt out of my comfort zone in the best possible way all week. Since the project was so high-level there were no calculations to be done which felt odd for me, but what I realized is how much brain power it takes to come up with concepts and ideas when starting from a blank page."

"Working with an extraordinary group of individuals who are experts in their own fields was an amazing experience and gave me a new perspective on working with such a broad group of backgrounds. This process and teamwork allowed for me to really appreciate how all the different ideas can come together to produce a cohesive concept. I would strongly recommend this experience to anyone as it has allowed me to grow as both an engineer and a person."

Thanks for sharing your experience, Brittney. We're glad it was so positive! 

I would strongly recommend this experience to anyone, as it has allowed me to grow as both an engineer and a person.
Brittney Lopushinky

Thanks to all involved

The DIALOG 2020 Design Residency team in the Vancouver studio wanted to extend a sincere and heartfelt thanks to three groups in particular.

Thank you to the students and their respective institutions, for taking part in this program and making it a success.

Thank you to Andrew Nakazawa from the Downtown Vancouver Business Improvement Association (DVBIA); Katy Amon from the Vancouver Park Board; and author Lance Berelowitz for presenting to the students about the contextual conditions of English Bay, and Vancouver more broadly.

Thank you to Shane Oleksiuk from Alan Boniface Architect; Matthew Thomson from Matthew Thomson Design; and Trevor Boddy, critic, curator and historian for reviewing the students’ final presentation and providing thoughtful commentary about how their work could be refined and implemented.

Student presentation - Design Residency 2020

The students' final presentation was recorded and can be watched below. Make sure you check it out to see how they addressed the problem they were presented with!

Hint: It involved a sea walk, floating pods and a plaza in the middle of a classic beach destination...

Design Residency 2021

Next year's Design Residency will be taking place in Calgary. Stay tuned to the DIALOG website for more details in early 2021! 

Please note - there is no application process for the Design Residency. A DIALOG Steering Committee confirms the universities and disciplines from which the initial cohort will be drawn, and faculty members from these institutions choose a top student willing to participate.

Learn more about the Design Residency

Design Residency in Honour of Tom Sutherland