Archive for August, 2009

Profile: Toby Barazzuol

The first in a series of SFU City profiles, featuring instructors, lecturers and panelists in our certificate programs. 

Toby Barazzuol, owner of Eclipse Awards, makers of crystal recognition awards, is a young entrepreneur who tries to integrate green principles into his business and lifestyle.  Dell Canada has also recognized Eclipse as one of the top ten businesses in Canada to creatively employ technology.

He was featured in Business in Vancouver’s 40 Under 40 issue:

Toby head shotToby Barazzuol’s knack for courting marquee clients has helped him build Eclipse Awards International into a seven-employee company nearing $1 million in annual revenue.

Barazzuol’s sales … have resulted in his awards sitting in trophy cabinets of recipients such as former U.S. president Bill Clinton, former astronaut John Glenn and Martin Sheen.  As Barazzuol grew Eclipse he kept his eye on social responsibility.  You can find a complete list of Eclipse’s commitment to social responsibility here.

It doesn’t stop there.  Eclipse is now the first company of its kind to become carbon neutral.   And it’s apparent even as you climb the stairs to his second-floor offices.   When Toby moved his offices to the Downtown East Side, he undertook to reinforce the two-storey building that houses shipping and assembly, administration and even living space in order to support a green roof on top:

Toby Roof garden

Toby on roof

Nor do his efforts stop at his live/work space. Working with the Strathcona Business Improvement Association, Eclipse is looking to redefine Stratchcona as Vancouver’s Green Zone – a community that celebrates sustainability, green business and diversity.




August 31, 2009 at 1:04 pm Leave a comment

Vancouver Biennale speaker Charles Jencks

Choices facing Public Art  

7:30 p.m. Thursday, October 1, 2009
Fletcher Challenge Room, SFU Harbour Centre 

Charles_Jencks_Feb_05_01jCharles Jencks will be giving his first public lecture in Vancouver – Art Land Versus Sculpture Park – as part of the Vancouver Biennale.  It will take place on October 1, 2009 in partnership with Simon Fraser University’s City Program.

Charles Jencks is an influential architectural theorist, landscape architect and designer whose name is synonymous with the concept of the Post-modern in architecture.  He was the first to extend those ideas into architectural discourse with his book ‘The Language of Post-Modern Architecture.’


Iconic BuildingHis latest book, ‘The Iconic Building,’ examines the phenomenon of the icon in contemporary architecture and the meaning of signature buildings in today‘s world of hyper trendiness and celebrity. His recent work includes fractal designs of buildings and furniture, as well as extensive landscape designs based on complexity theory, waves and solutions. These themes are expanded in his own private garden, the Garden of Cosmic Speculation, at Portrack House near Dumfries.

Garden of Cosmic Speculation

Jencks is famous for his innovative garden designs. In 2004 the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art won the Gulbenkian Prize as Museum of the Year for his dramatic and radical landscape project titled Landform.

Landform - Jencks

Those who visit  the site describe it as a transforming experience.

Charles Jencks was born 1939 in Baltimore.  He first studied English Literature at Harvard University, later gaining an MA in architecture from the Graduate School of Design in 1965. He also has a PhD in Architectural History from University College. Jencks has lectured at over forty universities throughout the world.

Charles Jencks is the trustee and co-founder (with his late wife Maggie Keswick) for the unique Maggie’s Cancer Caring Centres, a series of buildings and grounds in various cities built with the belief that architecture and form could provide healing and comfort to those battling cancer.

His numerous books are a perpetual mapping of the trends and paradigm shifts in the lexicon of architecture. Jencks’s massive success as a writer and a historian comes not only from his brilliant mind, but also, his accessible writing style, which is a testament to his long-standing credo of pluralism.


First Lectures in Vancouver: Living in the Art Land

This lecture, his first in Vancouver, is on public art, which has moved beyond individual statuary in the city to become, in some cases, more meaningful and contextual.  Several movements since the 1960s, such as Land Art, show these interests.  

Today sculpture parks and multiple installations are proliferating around the globe, with over 140 sculpture parks in Britain. But these departures have created another crisis, where art in the park has becoming the parking lot of art. The Artland, where landscape and its laws are given parity with the work of art, not necessarily sculpture, is the result, a genre often unified by a common thread, a single patron or artist, or an overarching vision.

“Artland Versus Sculpture Park: Choices Facing Public Art” is the first two talks in the series “Living in the Art Land.” Charles Jencks will also give an illustrated talk titled “The Garden of Cosmic Speculation: Nature Talking to Nature” on October 3, 2009, as part of the Vancouver Institute fall speakers series (see for details).  Another talk in the “Living In the Art-land” series will be by ‘sandman’ Jim Denevan and will take place in June, 2010.
Charles Jencks talk has been organized by the Vancouver Biennale and the Simon Fraser University City Program, with sponsorship from Paul Sangha Ltd., Shangri-La Hotel Vancouver, and the Vancouver Institute.


The Vancouver Biennale

The Biennale is a non-profit charitable organization with the mandate to mount a biannual major outdoor public art exhibition featuring world-class international artists, new media and performance in public spaces. In addition, the Biennale produces publications, curriculum, symposiums and lecture series.  Their blog is here.

With the theme of “in-transit-ion”,  the 2009-2011 Vancouver Biennale will install over 40 works by artists with international reputations. With major sculptural works in Vancouver’s City parks and on beaches, the Biennale is also installing public art at the Vancouver International Airport  Arrivals Terminal(YVR), the City of Richmond, the Translink rapid-transit stations, on buses, at Telus Science World and the University of British Columbia Botanical Gardens.


Vladas Vildžiūnas‘s Barbora at Pacfic Central Station.


Shangri-La Hotel Vancouver

August 14, 2009 at 1:50 pm 1 comment

Red Deer Rejuvenation

The journal of the Alberta Association, Canadian Institute of Planners, featured the downtown redevelopment plan of Red Deer in its recent issue.  There’s a strong SFU connection.

 AACIP Journal

The plan was developed in 2008 by lead consultants Grandview Consulting and John Hull Architect, assisted by Michael Von Hausen and his design team, with Alberta-based urban planner Ken Johnson.  Michael is the curriculum coordinator for the SFU City Program’s Urban Design Certificate, and in that role has taught many Alberta professionals.

Says the Journal:

Armed with inspiration and on-site observations, participants were then invited to a planning charrette led by the dynamic von Hausen design team. Later that same week, people were invited to drop in for informal coffee chats at the project office, where they could see rough concepts that were being developed and trade ideas with planners. The von Hausen team then gave a concepts presentation at week’s end, when the ideas were still fresh and the energy high.

In addition, past-UniverCity CEO Michael Geller, also a member of the City Program’s Advisory Committee, gave an inspirational talk on The Challenges of Downtowns: A World View.  “The hall was packed and citizens, inspired by the international success stories, continued to participate actively through the week.”

Later, writing in the Vancouver Sun, Michael Geller noted the community’s high participation rates and its lack of interest-group conflict. The attitudes did not match those typically expected of free enterprise Albertans. “Local residents revealed a surprising level of interest in stormwater management, community gardens, energy conservation and sustainable planning,” Geller wrote. “At one point I suggested to the Mayor that most Canadians would be shocked to hear this kind of talk from people in the middle of Alberta.”

Said the Journal: “The keys to the high levels of public involvement were our consulting team’s local conections, the variety of ways in which people could participate and a clear opennes to citizens’ ideas.

For the complete article and more on the Red Deer plan, go here.

August 12, 2009 at 10:59 am Leave a comment

Social Justice and Urban Design

Stephen Ingrouille at Going Solar, based in Melbourne, Australia, publishes an excellent transportation newsletter.  You can find it here.

Here’s an article on urban design that add the important dimension of social justice.
 Social Justice & Urban Design

‘We shape our buildings, and afterwards our buildings shape us’ (Winston Churchill, 1941)

The way we form our urban areas, the spaces they enclose and the values they embody have a profound effect on the quality of people’s lives. Planning is an allocative mechanism, influencing who gets what. Urban design is a tool of the planning system that influences the experience people have of their surroundings and the needs it enables them to meet. These needs might be to get to education, to access healthy food, to get exercise, to access relevant and stimulating employment opportunities, to enjoy nature to find solitude or interact with other people, amongst others. These factors and others influence what people feel they can do and whether they feel stifled or nurtured by their surroundings.

The way urban design is undertaken can contribute to ensuring fairer access to these opportunities and is essential to help create the circumstances that allow people to make well informed decisions, stay healthy and participate in society.


August 6, 2009 at 1:32 pm Leave a comment