PABLO NAVARRO + SOFIA STANIDIS PROMOTED TO ASSOCIATE

DPAI is proud to announce the promotion of two new Associates, Pablo Navarro and Sofia Stanidis!

Pablo Navarro holds a master’s degree in Urban Design from the University of Toronto and received his Bachelor of Architecture at the University of Guadalajara in Mexico. He joined the DPAI architectural team in 2014 and has managed a wide range of projects throughout all phases of design and construction – from site planning, programming and schematic design to detail drawings and contract administration. Pablo brings over 20 years of experience and a wealth of knowledge in building codes and accessibility standards as well as extensive experience working with municipal authorities throughout all phases of approvals.

Sofia Stanidis is a marketing and business development professional with over 13 years’ experience managing strategic marketing campaigns and branding initiatives. As a born and raised Hamiltonian, Sofia graduated from McMaster University with an Hns. BA in English and Fine Art. She started her career in conservation, leading the events and business development efforts for the organization. Sofia later made the move to a GTA municipality where she acted as the marketing lead for the Arts and Culture Division. Now, back in her hometown, Sofia brings her passion and creativity to DPAI where she has led the marketing and proposal development for the past year. Sofia currently holds a Board of Directors position with the Hamilton Conservation Foundation and is a Communications Advisor to the Algonquin to Adirondacks Collaborative.

Pablo and Sofia equally embody DPAI’s values to their core and have contributed to our team’s success a meaningful way. These new appointments truly strengthen the management structure of our firm and celebrate the unique strengths of our growing multidisciplinary team.

We’re excited for the future of DPAI and the contribution that Pablo and Sofia will undoubtedly make in their new roles.

Congratulations, Pablo and Sofia!

Petra Matar Promoted to Partner

We are excited to announce the promotion of Petra Matar to Partner!

Petra joined DPAI in 2011, shortly after graduating from the American University of Sharjah in the UAE. Over the past 10 years, Petra has proved to be a natural leader and has made an invaluable contribution to the growth and transformation of the firm.

Petra believes that good design should manifest in all aspects of a project; from its management to the end product being delivered. Petra’s approach to work is highly organized, both in process and presentation. She guides all her projects with a clear road map that helps everyone involved visualize the process and participate in it. Her work is marked by clarity in visual communication and good aesthetic.

As a Passive House Certified Designer, Petra has become DPAI’s sustainability specialist as she applies this knowledge into each project that she works on including institutional, commercial, residential, and urban design projects.

Petra is also a visual and installation artist who values creativity and seeks beauty in everything she makes. Over the past 8 years she has been part of the art collective HAVN in Hamilton, and her work has been featured at Supercrawl and in several group and solo exhibitions in Hamilton, Dubai and Sharjah.

The past year has been a transitional time for most businesses and Petra continues to be an instrumental component of DPAI’s continued growth and success. We’re excited for the future of DPAI and the contribution that Petra will undoubtedly make in this new position.

Congratulations, Petra! 

INTERNATIONAL WOMEN’S DAY: A CONVERSATION WITH PATTY CLYDESDALE

Patty is a Principal at DPAI and a Registered Interior Designer with ARIDO who brings more than 16 years’ experience in the architecture and interiors field. Patty is motivated by people engagement and relishes the relationship-building aspect of her profession. She gains inspiration through her values-based approach, the stories people tell. 
Inclusive design is the root of Patty’s approach, advocating for equitable participation by every community affected by the design process. Her process is open and transparent. Through open dialog with her clients and people she meets, she adds these important conversations about inclusion and what that means to the design process, especially for those who have been marginalized.

We (virtually) sat down with Patty to discuss her reflections on International Women’s Day and her perspective on gender-specific challenges, stereotypes and barriers that women face both locally and internationally.

Check out the full conversation here:

What gender-specific challenges, stereotypes, or barriers have you had to overcome during your career?

I am a white woman with privilege. While there were stereotypes and barriers to overcome, they pale in comparison to those that girls and women of colour, and trans women have and continue to face.

What does International Woman’s Day mean to you, personally?

It’s a call to action for basic human rights for women and girls, especially for women and girls of colour and for the trans community. As a principal and leader of a firm with influence, I have and must advocate for the hiring of women, women of colour and other marginalized community groups. As a professional, I must advocate for women-centered spaces and amenities that help support and provide women and girls of colour, and transwomen, the tools they need to be safe and succeed in the built environment. Engaging women of colour and other traditionally marginalized communities such as Trans women in the consultation stages of any design project, is more important than ever to identify their needs. These women have borne the largest economic burden during the COVID pandemic.

What women’s stories need to be heard and supported more (locally or internationally)?

Women of colour and trans women.

How could you contribute your wisdom, expertise or ideas to empower other women?

By advocating for the rights and needs of women, trans women and women of colour in every interaction, every project, every opportunity. As an Interior Designer, I must work toward eradicating through the built environment, the barriers and critical safety issues these women face every day.

MUSCLE MEMORY: DISCIPLINE, SELF-DISCOVERY & CREATIVE STEWARDSHIP

After the release of his 2017 memoir Beautiful Scars, musician, writer and painter Tom Wilson spoke to David Premi on our podcast Strange Process. Their conversation cut to the core of what it means to be an artist, and how the often misunderstood occupation of a creative is in fact a simple act of communication, one that combines urgency, heart and hard work.

Last week, Tom Wilson was arrested for delivering food to land defenders occupying an unceded site at 1492 Land Back Lane (also known as McKenzie Meadows) in Caledonia, Ontario and for performing to families of the Six Nations reserve. The site is central to a dispute between the Indigenous community and land developers concerning Haudenosaunee territory. The land in question forms part of the Haldimand Tract granted to Six Nations of the Grand River in 1784 for allying with the British during the American Revolution. A court injunction granted to the developer currently prohibits anyone from entering the site. The next court date to determine the fate of the injunction will take place this week.

Tom Wilson is currently working on his second book, Blood Memory.

Check out the full conversation here:

THE INTERSECTIONS OF ART & ARCHITECTURE

“When you’re sketching a line, it’s very intuitive, it’s almost like it’s an extension of your body.”

Last winter, we recorded a conversation between friends Petra Matar and former dpai architect, Molly Merriman, about the intersections of art and architecture within their practices of artmaking and design.

We find ourselves in a changed world—but there’s refuge to be sought in the creative process and the spark of connection between friends!

Check out the full conversation here:

Follow dpai architecture on Instagram @dpaiarchitectureinc to see some of Petra and Molly’s work.

TRENDY TECH

By Jamie Schneider

Welcome to the year two thousand twenty everyone! It’s already March?  I’ve been too busy to notice, trying to keep up with all the latest tech trends.

With new trends coming to light each day, I’m already starting to feel like I’m falling behind, not being proactive and generally a bit of an imbecile.

Why am I not employing “Spot”, the robotic dog, to go to site for us?;  Why am I generatively designing that townhouse development?; Should I be learning to code in order to remain relevant? 

Before panic sets in, I’ll centre myself, focus on the natural rhythm of my breath, and reflect on what we, as designers and technologists at dpai, are doing to enhance our efficiencies and generally work better this year.

Turns out, we are a very tech-forward team.

Refine Project Information Management System…Check.

We believe we can be more efficient in how we create, store, search and retrieve data.  By adapting a Common Data Environment (CDE) for all our data we will realize a dramatic increase in time efficiencies and strengthen our QA process.

Furthering our BIM workflow development…Check.

We believe that the BIM process has enabled us to add value to our projects with the use of visualization tools (thank you Enscape) and better coordinated designs.  We are continuing to develop our standards, protocols, content libraries and project templates which will allow us to successfully leverage the net benefits we have gained so far.

Embracing new ways of working…Check.               

Seeking out and working with those in our industry who share our vision to work more collaboratively and embrace new ways of working (thank you Target Value Design TVD) utilizing the latest collaborative cloud modeling (thank you BIM360).

Phew… I understand this digital overload won’t let up anytime soon – but we’re ready to take on the year with our values as our guiding force.

Happy New(ish) Year!

KNOWLEDGE, DESIGNED

Arthi Suthaharan

We live in a world where information is easily accessible for many. Search engines like Google will tell you everything you need to know, with hundreds of sources and reviews. It’s become a common reflex and response to anything you want to know or learn. Just “google” it!

Google is a basic tool in our day-to-day lives, but where did it come from?

Back to Land

In the sixties, in the midst of the civil rights movement and the Vietnam war, there was a rise of a counterculture that favoured individual empowerment and self-sustenance. With this came the “back to the land” movement, where people moved to communes with the goal of slowing down and simplifying life. At the heart of this movement was Stewart Brand’s publication of the Whole Earth Catalogue

The Whole Earth Catalogue

In 1967, a NASA geostationary weather and communication satellite captured the first colour photograph of the whole earth. People’s perspective of the earth changed and for the first time, people could see the earth not as the world we live in but as the planet we live on. The earth was no longer our entire world; it was a thing of its own, both finite and delicate. It was a powerful symbol: regardless of who we were and where we were, we all lived on the same planet and with that, shared a common future and destiny. Brand used this picture of the whole earth as an icon for his publications, an image he used to help shape people’s views and way of thinking to see the earth as a finite entity that needed to be protected.  

The contents of the Whole Earth Catalogue were catered to people who were involved with the “back to the land” movement. It was a paper database of the skills, tools and information they needed to survive and succeed, all within the pages of a few catalogues. It was meant to empower individuals who were tired of being controlled by the government and big corporations and wanted to shape their environment and future.

To access this knowledge, you needed the physical catalogue. There was no internet, libraries were restricted by their size and television content was limited. The catalogue was a new concept, a place where anything you needed to know, find and learn about a single topic or idea was in one place. It was regularly updated and changed as the creators received reviews and feedback, just like the search engines we know today.

The Digital Age

Unlike the catalogues, which we can see in physical space filled with a finite quantity of knowledge, Google exists on the infinite digital plane of the Internet. We cannot see or even begin to understand all the information this entity can hold. It has no physical form; it is a space we cannot physically see nor touch. It is designed using computer code, using algorithms and sequences, to pull the information we are searching for from that infinite digital space. Today, the way we get our news, communicate with one another and share knowledge is via the digital plane. It is no surprise that the way we collect data and search for information happens the same way.

Information Overload

With unlimited access to information comes an overload. The abundance of information has created difficulty in understanding issues and making decisions around them, largely due to the uprising of “fake news”. Twenty-first-century libraries are evolving from primarily housing books on shelves to taking on the self-proclaimed role of “fake news debunkers”. Some modern libraries are also developing programs they call design thinking to promote creative processes for problem-solving, helping their clientele to develop the skills needed to process information in this “overloaded” climate.

Unlike the days of the Whole Earth Catalogue, libraries have gone from transactional to relational interactions with users. Libraries are no longer places where users simply come to consume information, they have also become places where the public comes to create their own content.

Described by Steve Jobs as the “paperback Google”, the Whole Earth Catalogue gave rise to the way we access digital information today. Understanding how the knowledge you are receiving has been designed and disseminated is arguably as important as the knowledge itself.

This is why libraries are so critical to our communities. They are bastions of democracy, making sure that the development of critical thinking and creation are available to all.

A WOONERF SOLUTION

How a Woonerf Could Anchor Redevelopment of the James-John South District
Paul Shaker

Good, proactive urban planning reimagines city spaces that may be overlooked but hold great potential. This is the case in the area just south of downtown Hamilton.

The James-John Street South district (SouthTown) is a diverse commercial area in Hamilton, south of the downtown Central Business District. The area contains a variety of land uses, such as St. Joseph’s Hospital and the Hamilton GO Centre as well as nodes including the restaurants and pubs on Augusta and the retail Terraces on James South. Functionally, the district extends east to the other major corridor, John Street South and includes the connecting streets such as Augusta, Young, and Charlton.

While other commercial districts around the city including Locke Street South, James Street North, and Ottawa Street North, have gone through impressive revitalization, SouthTown has remained relatively stable in its vibrancy, experiencing small cycles of decline and renewal over the past decade. There are distinct nodes of vibrancy, but the district lacks continuity and connectivity between these nodes that would help the area achieve greater prosperity.

In this context, Civicplan and dpai teamed up a few years ago to develop a concept plan for the district. Central to the plan was the creation of a focal point for the area: the Augusta Street Woonerf.

Woonerf: A Living Street

A woonerf is a concept first developed in the 1970s in Holland. The concept is to transform a street by prioritizing pedestrian and cycling over cars. It allows for street space to be flexible, used in multiple ways, for cars, parking, cycling and pedestrians. The Dutch employed the planning model in residential areas, but it is becoming more common, particularly in North America, to see it employed in commercial areas. It is also known as a “living street” and is aligned in North America with the idea of complete streets.

Common elements of a woonerf are the elimination of sidewalk curbs, and the blending of pedestrian and vehicle space. Additionally, the woonerf is designed using a different material or pattern than traditional streets to differentiate it from a traditional street, for example paving stones instead of asphalt. The benefits of a woonerf are primarily traffic calming, pedestrian safety, and bringing life to a street. It encourages commercial spaces to connect with the street through the use of patios and outdoor spaces.

The Augusta Woonerf

In the SouthTown district, the Augusta Street Woonerf would transform the underdeveloped street into a pedestrian-friendly civic space connecting the two major north-south arteries (James and John) together. Augusta Street has an excellent cluster of restaurants and pubs, giving it a base to grow street vibrancy.  However, street design and the prevalence of street front parking lots are limiting further growth. Some of the opportunities for the Augusta Street woonerf include:

1. Redesign Augusta making the street a pedestrian-friendly civic space better connected to the James Street and John Street South commercial nodes.

2. Encourage scaled infill design consistent with existing building massing at the street.

3. Introduce more landscaping and tree planting to provide some green/open space for the district.

4. Target high potential sites for initial catalyst development.  Focus on uses that are attracted to the district’s demographics, character, assets and vibrancy (e.g. post-secondary).

The SouthTown Concept Plan

This was just one element of the SouthTown concept plan, which had the goal to not only articulate a vision for the future of the area but to help guide public investment in order to kickstart development. Other key elements of the plan include:

About the author

Paul Shaker is a Principal and co-founder of Civicplan. He is a member of the Canadian Institute of Planners and a Registered Professional Planner in Ontario.

#CLIMATESTRIKE

In March 2019, the City of Hamilton officially declared a climate emergency (we wrote about it here). The declaration was necessary, but it’s not enough.

We are running out of time. As architects, we are uniquely positioned to change the way we design cities and buildings. It is the obligation of our profession to exert influence over our clients, consultants, and the authorities having jurisdiction to introduce new design and building practices into the market. Net-zero buildings are easily within our reach; it’s not rocket science. It comes down to better detailing, more insulation, careful design and renewable energy. The longer-term financial viability of a net-zero building is radically better than the kinds of buildings we are accustomed to building.

In response to the Global Climate Strike, the Canadian Architects Declare pledge was created, urging architects and designers to raise awareness of the impact of the built environment on climate change and take immediate action through their projects.

About 150 architects signed the pledge, committing to:

  • Raising awareness
  • Taking immediate (and measurable) action
  • Designing for holistic reductions in greenhouse gas emissions
  • Eliminating waste and harm
  • Adopting regenerative design principles and practices
  • Advocating for the rapid systemic changes required

As architects and designers, we can make a difference. According to Architecture 2030, the urban built environment is responsible for 75% of annual global GHG emissions: buildings alone account for 39%. 

We should never underestimate our impact.
Together, we shape the world.
  
#ArchitectsDeclare #StandwithGreta #DesignforFuture

VIRTUAL REALITY BRIDGING THE GAP OF EMOTIONAL CONNECTION

Max Schramp

Experiencing virtual reality (VR) was previously limited to reading books, watching television or movies, and experiencing one’s own imagination. Whether it was through the “OASIS” from Ernest Cline’s Ready Player One or directly embedded in your subconscious like Christopher Nolan’s Inception, people have been fascinated by the concept of alternate realities where anything is rendered possible.

A common trope among all examples of such environments is that these realities are generally accessed through some form of game platform. I’m willing to bet there’s a whole generation of architecture students who, when asked why they chose this their field, would respond “Minecraft.” Not only is Minecraft the world’s best-selling, with more than 176 million copies sold, it is also widely considered to be the perfect sandbox game.

“Sandbox” is synonymous with the genre “Open World”, which according to Wikipedia can be defined as “a level or game designed as nonlinear” i.e. “open areas with many ways to reach an objective.” For years Minecraft existed without any storyline or objectives, but as a virtual universe where players created their own narrative. This poses the question: How does a low-resolution world of cubes with no objective or narrative keep people of all ages immersed for years? For me, the answer is an emotional connection. Experiences with other humans in real-time that harness multiple senses are the key to compelling immersion.

Virtual Connection

Over the past year, a group of friends and I have organized three “virtual festivals” in Minecraft. Our group grew up playing hours upon hours of the game during our formative years, while concurrently pursuing careers in electronic music. As we became more established artists in the electronic scene, we realized there was a clear gap in our community: it’s financially impossible for a community of international, independent musicians and fans to meet up in the same place at the same time and perform.

Using our knowledge of Minecraft, we collectively “hacked” a version of the game that would allow us to create a music festival. We built a virtual world that involved not only stages, but an entire environment to explore. This included various sculptural works, houses, carnivals, city streets, and even an art gallery featuring visual artists from our community. We asked artists to record sets and stand on the stage, “DJ’ing” in front of the crowd of virtual characters, who listened to the audio “in real life” streamed through an external website. All our marketing material was parallel to that of real-world music festivals, the exception being that the entire event took place in a virtual world.

Most people can relate to the feeling of getting goosebumps when they witness their favourite artist live, surrounded by hundreds of people experiencing the same feeling. We successfully recreated this phenomenon within a virtual reality for the over 100,000 people who attended our events. This has many implications for the future of performance art and the integrations of architecture.

VR and Architecture

There have already been multiple derivative events, but now there is now proof that virtual experiences don’t belong strictly in art galleries. As virtual reality becomes more accessible, will architects be able to immediately integrate international communities into their work? Why couldn’t millions of people attend the largest sermon in the world, all from their own home? How would one go about designing a cathedral, a temple or a mosque, for millions of people to experience? Without the limitations of physics or budget, how would the formation of spaces change? When speculative architecture has a feasible platform to exist, will it?

Applications of virtual reality in the field of architecture are still far from their full potential. Walkthroughs with VR headsets can engage with our visual senses, but truly experiencing architecture is more than that. How can we as occupants engage emotionally with the virtual representations of the built environment? How can we as architects simulate or encourage human interaction while in a virtual world? These are questions that will push the field and the technology further, as the possibilities remain infinite within virtual space.