Eliminating Eyesores

How Ottawa can address its empty and abandoned buildings Apathy is costing our communities Vacant and derelict buildings tear holes in our communities. They harm our economy, reduce our safety and set us back in making our city a great place to live. And here in Ottawa, lax bylaws fail to offer many incentives to …

Canada’s broken procurement system is a threat to the public interest

We have a problem with procurement. Procurement is the way public institutions such as governments purchase professional services and materials. It starts with a request for proposal (RFP), an open call by organizations for work that specifies the conditions by which they’ll grade and then select the bidder to whom they’ll award the project. Canada’s …

Are our roofs a wasted resource?

I have occasionally worked on high floors in office buildings, which means I get to see the roofs below me. I have memories of the sparkle of the snow on frigid days in January and the sparkle of cars in the intensity of July sunshine. But I don’t remember ever seeing solar panels. In travelling …

“Five Big Moves” of Ottawa’s new Official Plan

City staff should be congratulated for setting an ambitious goal with the “Five Big Moves” of Ottawa’s new Official Plan. These are, indeed, big moves for the city. But creating the built environment is a political act. How will our local politicians approach these five planning goals? The first goal seeks more growth by intensification than …

Volunteering and Advocacy

Two weeks ago at the OAA Annual General Meeting, Heather Dubbeldam, OAA, FRAIC, was awarded the G. Randy Roberts Service Award. This award celebrates an OAA member for their extraordinary service to the membership. In her acceptance speech, Heather talked about her role in the Toronto Society of Architects, founder of BEAT (Bringing Equality to …

Creative Mornings

Two years ago, a good friend introduced me to Creative Mornings Ottawa. On April 27 I had the honor and pleasure of speaking at the monthly gathering of creative minds to speak on equity. I chose to address the topic of how we design washrooms in general, and specifically women’s washrooms. Based on my November …

There Should Be A Rule About That!

As someone who has written policies for companies large and small, people often assume that I am “for” policies, rules and laws. And I am, I think they should exist and I think the same laws should be applied to everyone in the same way. Where I buck people’s frequently voiced perceptions of my mind …

Let’s Normalize Equity in Design

In Layman’s Terms (A Non-Architect’s Point of View) “Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: ‘It is mine to avenge; I will repay,’ says the Lord.” Romans 12:19 New International Version In thinking about the backlash against efforts to bring about a more equitable world …

Climate Change is Everywhere

Climate change is everywhere, and architecture has a big part to play in making change. Awareness of the built environment, and its role in effecting change is crucial: how we plan our parks, allowing rivers to overflow; how we create sustainable suburban communities and halt the ravage of unchecked #sprawl; how we invest in existing, …

Awards: The Echo Chamber of the Mainstream

In Layman’s Terms (A Non-Architect’s Point of View) It feels like we’re perpetually in awards season. There’s always some group patting themselves on the back. It makes me uncomfortable. When my kids were in grade school the awards were generally pointless so I saw all awards as harmless praise. My opinion has evolved and I …