Jan. 8, 2018

EVDS makes huge showing at World Design Summit

Diverse researchers share expertise on how design can shape a better future

Researchers at the Faculty of Environmental Design wrapped up 2017 with unprecedented, influential and interdisciplinary participation at an important international design conference in Montreal. EVDS was the best represented Canadian school at the World Design Summit.

The summit gathered more than 600 international speakers in academia and industry to brainstorm how to transform the future through design. Architects spoke alongside graphic designers, landscape architects shared the podium with industrial designers, and urban planners spoke on panels with interior designers.

Amid this interdisciplinary discussion six EVDS faculty members — Enrica Dall'AraKris FoxTawab HlimiBeverly SandalackMary-Ellen Tyler and Francisco Alaniz Uribe — presented research including education for landscape architecture, using virtual reality to build density, designing neighbourhoods to improve the health of residents, and designing open spaces in industrial areas.

“We had just an incredible showing,” says Sandalack, professor and associate dean of landscape and planning. “It really reflects a huge breadth and influence by EVDS and it’s not likely to come around often where we have such a presence at an international conference.”

Faculty who presented at the conference received a lot of helpful feedback about their research. “It really allows you to sharpen your ideas and refocus and contextualize what’s going on not just nationally, but around the world,” says Sandalack. “Usually you go to a conference and it’s just your discipline and that’s great, but it’s not the same interweaving of ideas.”

EVDS was the best represented Canadian school at the World Design Summit with presentations from faculty including, from left: Mary-Ellen Tyler, Francisco Alaniz Uribe, Enrica Dall’Ara, Beverly Sandalack, and Tawab Hlimi. Faculty of Environmental Design photo

EVDS was the best represented Canadian school at the World Design Summit.

Faculty of Environmental Design photo

Two faculty members received awards from the Canadian Society of Landscape Architects (CSLA). Doug Olson, adjunct professor, received a lifetime achievement award and Kris Fox, assistant professor in the Landscape Architecture Program, was recognized through the professional awards program for his work on the Outdoor PLAYbook, an online guide on how to design innovative, sustainable and safe schoolgrounds.

As well as presenting and co-presenting, Sandalack chaired the jury for the International Federation of Landscape Architects student design competition, which awarded $7,000 U.S. in prizes.

The conference also served as a sort of “coming-out party” for the EVDS landscape architecture program, launched in 2015. “We’re a brand-new program and this was the first opportunity to present the ideas of our program with our colleagues and a broader audience," says Sandalack.  “It gave me real reassurance that we’ve got a strong program and that we’re a vital part of landscape architecture across the country as well as filling an important niche in Alberta.”