Faculty of Environmental Design embraces Congress 2016 theme of “Energizing Communities” through full-day tour of Calgary

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Vendredi 22 avril 2016

Jennifer Robitaille, Communications Specialist, Faculty of Arts, University of Calgary

As part of the Congress 2016 exciting line-up of events, the University of Calgary will host six Interdisciplinary symposia to exhibit the university’s most compelling and leading-edge thinking and research. This article is part of a six-part series showcasing each event, all of which are open to Congress attendees and the general public.

On May 30, 2016, the Faculty of Environmental Design (EVDS) will host Energizing by design: Examining how design-based research is transforming the built environment. This unique, off-campus event is a full-day, multi-venue symposium touring infrastructural and architectural sites   in and around the city of Calgary.

We sat down with Joshua M. Taron, Associate Professor and Caroline Hachem-Vermette, Assistant Professor, both with the Faculty of Environmental Design and two of the key organizers for the day, to find out more about the event.

Q:  The EVDS symposium focuses on exploring the built environment in Calgary. W as the Congress 2016 theme of “Energizing communities” an inspiration for your event program and how did the theme shape your event?

A:  EVDS is a faculty filled with individuals whose research is grounded in connection with communities through the built environment. These approaches range from architecture to planning to landscape architecture in invigorating and energetic ways, so the theme of “Energizing communities” seemed an obvious fit. The challenge was to design an event that not only talks about the interesting work that we’re involved with, but to also do so in places that are contributing to meaningful transformations in our city. This translates into bussing participants to a series of sites in the city where various presentations will take place—including the Inglewood Brewery site, the Enmax District Energy Centre and the University of Calgary’s downtown campus. In other words, we don’t want to just talk about energizing communities, we want the event itself to be energizing for those who will be attending and participating.

Q: What is the makeCalgary initiative and why is it important?

A:  makeCalgary is a community-based research platform in the University of Calgary’s Faculty of Environmental Design. It brings together faculty researchers, graduate students, industry professionals, and community partners to help design a bright future for Canada’s most enterprising city. To date it has addressed four design criteria that define a great city: resilient, healthy, vibrant and equitable. Efforts are currently focused on addressing this year’s theme: making Calgary walkable.

Q: Who are some of the key speakers for the event?

A:  The event is organized into two parts. For the morning and afternoon sessions, EVDS faculty will be presenting their work at the Inglewood Brewery and Enmax District Energy Centre sites. The program includes exemplary research that addresses themes of transformation & adaptation, performance & interaction, and culture & behavior. The second part of the event, held in the evening at the UCalgary downtown campus, includes a keynote by Mark Kingwell, an internationally renowned philosopher who speaks to issues of urbanism and urban design. This will be followed by a panel discussion consisting of a selection of industry, municipal and community leaders discussing the design of cities. This will likely be a lively discussion that attracts significant attention from various parts of the city. For anyone who has not been a part of a public event focusing on design, it will be a fresh and enjoyable experience.

Q: What should attendees expect from the event and who should attend?

A:  Attendees should expect a visually compelling, thought-provoking conversation that runs throughout the entire day. I encourage anyone interested in finding out how and why our cities behave the way they do—and perhaps more importantly, in finding out how design is contributing to the future of those cities—to attend.

Q: What do you hope people take away from the event?

A:  We hope that people will gain a new perspective and appreciation for design—and are perhaps inspired to contribute to the design of their cities. It is particularly interesting that this event will be open to Congress attendees from around the world as well as to the local public who live their everyday lives right here in Calgary. The potential for the mixing of ideas and perspectives from a range of backgrounds is incredibly exciting to us. We hope that the structure and content of the event serves as a way to maximize the energy that this audience might have in advancing conversations about the design of the built environment.

For more information about Congress 2016, running May 28 to June 3, 2016 hosted by the Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences and the University of Calgary, please visit


Photo caption: Caroline Hachem-Vermette, Assistant Professor in the Architecture program within the Faculty of Environmental Design and Joshua M. Taron, Associate Professor in the Architecture program within the Faculty of Environmental Design are the key organizers for the EVDS Interdisciplinary symposium on May 30, 2016. Photo courtesy of Riley Brandt.


Congress of the Humanities and Social SciencesCongress 2016