Architecture + Education Program Celebrates End to Another Successful Year

  • January 12, 2018
  • Author: Danielle Forsyth

Luke Visiting a Buffalo Public School classroom as part of the Arch+Ed program.

Luke Visiting a Buffalo public school classroom as part of the Arch+Ed program.

CannonDesigners Luke Johnson and Cheri Weatherston have been hard at work this past year as the Buffalo Architecture Foundation’s Architecture + Education (Arch+Ed) Program Co-Chairs. Other CannonDesign volunteer architects this year were Nate Heckman and Harrison Walsh.

With more than 225 students and five Buffalo public schools involved in this unique program, everyone is looking forward to celebrating when all of the students’ work is displayed at the CEPA Gallery in downtown Buffalo on January 19.

The decade-old, award-winning Arch+Ed program was founded to increase awareness and involvement in the built and natural environment and to use architecture as a multidisciplinary form of active learning. Running biennially, the program uses architecture to teach students math, science, history, art, and technology aligned with the Common Core, while raising awareness and appreciation of the built environment. (

Local practicing professionals and architecture students are paired with Buffalo public school teachers for a fully comprehensive, 8-10 week collaboration where lesson plans are formed and carried out. The culmination of the student’s work is celebrated and displayed at the CEPA Gallery for everyone to enjoy.

A photo by Luke from the 2015 Arch+Ed Symposium where the architect/teacher teams met and developed lesson plans to implement in their classrooms over 8-10 weeks.

A photo from the 2015 Arch+Ed Symposium where the architect/teacher teams met and developed lesson plans to implement in their classrooms over 8-10 weeks.

Over the past 10 years, the program has been involved with 25 schools, 115 architects, and 115 classes, and over 3,500 students.



Our co-Chairs and the Arch+Ed program have garnered extremely positive local coverage. A few of these interviews and articles can be found below.

WBFO 88.7Architects lending their talents to teach city school students
“It’s a way in which we help build awareness of the built environment and also showcase architecture as a learning vehicle for a whole slew of disciplines”

Buffalo Rising#LittleArchitects’ Gallery Opening: Buffalo Architecture Foundation’s Architecture+Education
“If kids thought about architecture the same way that they thought about cooking, then we would certainly have a brighter future ahead when it comes to inventive and forward-thinking building designs.”

Buffalo NewsBuffalo Schools make push to build career and vocational programs
“Not only did that get some of her students more interested in learning science, some even started thinking about their futures.”

UBNowArchitects in the Making
“The award-winning program introduces BPS students to the discipline in a fun, hands-on way.”







Buffalo Engineers Celebrate Oishei Children’s Hospital Opening Through Volunteerism

  • November 13, 2017
  • Author: Danielle Forsyth

Last Friday, over a dozen Buffalo office employees and their spouses volunteered at Oishei Children’s Hospital for Move Day. The vast majority of our volunteers were project team members who worked on various aspects of the building. CannonDesign was the engineer of record and provided cost estimating, MEP and telecommunications engineering in addition to lighting design services for the project.

Local news outlets reported the move was an overwhelming success.

Moving day for Children’s Hospital goes off without a hitch – The Buffalo News

Patient by patient, Oishei Children’s Hospital comes online – Buffalo Business First

The main lobby entrance at Oishei Children’s Hospital

As the engineers of record on the Oishei Children’s Hospital, the team capitalized on its new location in the downtown medical campus and location to Buffalo General Hospital and sought innovative solutions to share mechanical systems and services to keep costs low and avoid duplication. The team tapped into the existing central plant for electrical, emergency generator backup, chilled water for cooling, and steam boilers for heating. They also were able to incorporate the existing loading dock and main kitchen at Buffalo General by including an interconnecting tunnel under Ellicott Street and a two-level bridge. By sharing these systems and services, the team not only reduced costs, but also increased the available square footage of the building footprint.

You could feel in the team meetings that we were all part of a larger purpose. We all rallied behind the shared goal of making this new hospital for the women and children of Buffalo a great success.

Raymond Schultz

We were proud to be part of the 700-person volunteer team to ensure a smooth transition for patients and families. Beginning at 5am and ending at 9:30pm, each CannonDesign team covered a five-hour shift. We were assigned to the food service area, which provided all of the food and beverages for volunteers, families and staff for Move Day. Many of us found our niche at the coffee station, which, to no one’s surprise, was very busy for a hospital.

Thanks to everyone who made a difference that day!

Jeremy Clement, Michael Walker, Peter McClive, Raymond Schultz, Robert Garra, Michael Dlugosz, Angelo Tasca, Joe Cohen, Chip Berry

View Our Engineering Services >

What’s Black and White and Designed All Over?

  • February 27, 2017
  • Author: Danielle Forsyth

AON Penguin Exhibit Rendering

Members of the CannonDesign team recently attended the ground-breaking ceremony for the new penguin habitat at the Aquarium of Niagara. Project manager Frank Sica was also featured extensively on Buffalo morning news programs, providing insight into some of the more technical aspects of the project. You can watch Frank’s interviews on WGRZ and WKBW.

Located at the heart of the city of Niagara Falls and a steady part of the local tourism industry, the aquarium’s long-term goal is to achieve certification from the Association of Zoos and Aquariums. The certification will allow them to join an elite group of 20 institutions in North America who can exchange assets and participate in breeding transfers.

Beginning as a component of a larger visioning exercise for strategic investments at the facility, the new penguin habitat design was developed as the first major project at the aquarium in half a century. The team worked through several unconventional design and technical challenges as we imagined a new home for the penguins.

AON Axon DiagramThe key to getting the project off the ground was developing marketing material to help fundraise the required $3.3 million. Now that the funding goal has been met, we are excited to see the project come to fruition and watch the little tuxedoed clients enjoy their new home.

With this new penguin habitat, the aquarium will be able to attract more members of the community, support and expand the local economy, and share the important story of conservationism and animal education.

The Pittsburgh Redbud Project

  • April 19, 2016
  • Author: Danielle Forsyth

Native redbud trees beautify Pittsburgh

Redbud TreePittsburgh Redbud Project LogoWhen Frank Dawson, ASLA, was traveling back and forth from his hometown of Pittsburgh to New York City, he noticed the beautiful early blooms of the native redbud trees that are clustered at the ridgetops along the highway. He always admired redbuds trees, having a few in his own yard.

“I wondered if my excitement and passion for these trees could translate to the landscape in Pittsburgh, to create a buzz for the coming of spring in the city,” said Frank. So, he set out to make his idea a reality.

From planning to planting

Frank sits on an advisory panel called Paris to Pittsburgh, a program that offers grants to help property and business owners make building façade improvements and establish outdoor cafés.

“I came to one of the meetings with a map of the city and drew a giant pink line across it,” he recalled. This line would signify his plan to plant thousands of native trees throughout the city, including redbuds, which would be the dominant and featured trees.

A depiction of what the city skyline with redbuds would look like in the spring.

A depiction of what the city skyline with redbuds would look like in the spring.

Frank prepared a proposal for his tree planting initiative, which was excitedly accepted by the Conservancy. Just recently, the grant proposal was approved and will provide 1,200 trees to be planted (400 will be redbuds) throughout the Pittsburgh landscape for the community to enjoy and celebrate at the beginning of each spring.

The initiative has been thoughtfully dubbed The Pittsburgh Redbud Project. Beginning this spring and carrying through spring of 2017, there will be three planting sessions with the first planting scheduled to be on April 19. Western Pennsylvania Conservancy Volunteers and many from across the city will help with this effort. With CannonDesign as a sponsor through our Open Hand Studio, Frank hopes many CannonDesigners from our Pittsburgh office as well as the greater Pittsburgh community will come out and show their support for this exciting project.

Frank and Joe placing one of the new redbud trees.

Frank and Joe placing one of the new redbud trees.

Some Fun Redbud Tree Facts:

  • The large burlap trees weigh about 250lbs
  • 50-60 people volunteer per planting event
  • There are approximately 15,000 Redbud seeds in a pound
  • Western PA Conservancy will be giving away 1500 small trees (redbud will be the feature)
  • Redbud Trees are members of the pea family
  • Redbud Trees grow 1-2 ft per year
  • Redbud Trees Live 50-70 years
  • Redbud Trees start to flower with 5-7 years growth

Learn more about Open Hand Studio >

Jain Selected to 2016 Lab of the Year Jury

  • January 12, 2016
  • Author: Danielle Forsyth

Punit JainPunit Jain, AIA, LEED Fellow, has been selected as a juror of the 2016 Laboratory of the Year Awards. A prestigious and global competition, the Lab of the Year Awards recognizes the best in laboratory design through innovation, construction, sustainability and operation.

Jain is a leader in our science and technology and sustainability practices. As a LEED Fellow, he has overseen the design and construction of over 24 LEED projects in the life sciences, engineering and physical sciences. He is responsible for generating innovative solutions in regenerative and net zero design for complex scientific facilities at a campus and building scale. Punit serves on the national board of the International Institute for Sustainable Laboratories (I2SL) and the advisory board of the Scientific Equipment and Furniture Association (SEFA). Read about his thoughts on sustainable laboratories and the devices that can help conserve water.

Learn more about our S+T Expertise >

Luke Johnson Honored with the AIA Buffalo/WNY Community Service Award

  • November 13, 2015
  • Author: Danielle Forsyth

Luke Johnson, Assoc. AIA, received the 2015 AIA Buffalo/Western New York Community Service Award for outstanding volunteer service on behalf of architecture and the built environment. Luke has made a priority in his architectural career to promote and enhance the profession through community outreach. He has an incredibly active voice in Buffalo’s design and non-profit communities. Luke currently holds a board position at the Buffalo Architecture Foundation (BAF) and co-chairs the Architecture+Education (Arch+Ed) program run through BAF.

Luke Visiting a Buffalo Public School classroom as part of the Arch+Ed program.

Luke Visiting a Buffalo Public School classroom as part of the Arch+Ed program.

Arch+Ed was founded to increase awareness of the importance of design and use architecture as a lens for multidisciplinary and active learning. The program’s success lies in the collaboration between Buffalo Public School teachers, University at Buffalo and Buffalo State College students, and volunteer architects like Luke from firms throughout WNY. The program has grown to include 16 schools, 92 architects, and 82 classes, and over 2,500 students in the Western New York area.

Arch+Ed was awarded the 2007 Commitment to Education Awards Corporate Silver Award from the Buffalo Alliance for Education and the 2013 American Institute of Architects National Diversity Recognition Program Award for promoting and supporting diversity in the profession of architecture.

A photo by Luke from the 2015 Arch+Ed Symposium where the architect/teacher teams met and developed lesson plans to implement in their classrooms over 8-10 weeks.

A photo by Luke from the 2015 Arch+Ed Symposium where the architect/teacher teams met and developed lesson plans to implement in their classrooms over 8-10 weeks.

Another incredibly successful community outreach program in which Luke and another local architect helped launch and carry-out is the Native American education programming. The troubling statistics prompted a real opportunity in the region: less than 0.5% of the American Institute of Architects (AIA) members are Native American and less than a handful are Native American women architects. The Western New York region has an abundance of Native American communities in both the Southtowns and the Northtowns. Luke and other BAF board members seized the opportunity to reach out in these communities and provide programming to children and adults who may not otherwise have opportunity to learn about architecture and design.

In March 2015, with funding and support provided by the AIA National Diversity and Inclusion Council, Luke and BAF organized a visit by Tamarah Begay, AIA. Tamarah is the first female member of the Native American Navajo tribe to become an architect and an AIA member. She is principal-in-charge at Indigenous Design Studio + Architecture, LLC (IDS+A) in Albuquerque, N.M., an architectural and planning firm that works predominately with Native American tribes. (source: Tamarah, along with volunteers, hosted a three-day workshop at Lake Shore Middle School to introduce architecture and design concepts to Native American students.

A photo by Luke of the Lake Shore Middle School Students with Tamara Begay, AIA.

A photo by Luke of the Lake Shore Middle School Students with Tamara Begay, AIA.

Working with Luke on the BAF Board, he is incredibly deserving of this award and recognition. He brings a tremendous amount of value to the Buffalo region by promoting the importance of design in our communities.

Meet more of our incredible CannonDesigners >

An EAW Interview with Vivian Loftness

  • October 20, 2015
  • Author: Danielle Forsyth

Environmental Quality, Building Systems Integration, and a Love for Pittsburgh

Vivian+LoftnessVivian Loftness, FAIA, LEED AP, is a University Professor and former Head of the School of Architecture at Carnegie Mellon University. She is an internationally renowned researcher, author and educator with over thirty years of focus on environmental design and sustainability, advanced building systems integration, climate and regionalism in architecture, and design for performance in the workplace of the future. She is a registered architect and a Fellow of the American Institute of Architects. Vivian answered some of our questions in anticipation of her presentation at our Environmental Awareness Week event on Wednesday, October 28 in Pittsburgh.

CannonDesign: What topic are you planning to present at the EAW event?

Vivian Loftness: I’m part of a research team here at Carnegie Mellon with a wide range of research that could be of interest to the CannonDesign group. The first is, “how do buildings need to change in response to health and productivity?” Another is, “what is the emerging ‘internet of things’ doing to improve environmental quality?”

CD: In terms of the environmental quality, do you have any examples of your research you would like to share?

VL: By using the phrase “environmental quality,” we are broadening the dialogue to include the overall health and well-being of people in spaces, considering all factors like thermal, air quality, visual, acoustic and spatial/ergonomic conditions. Innovations are occurring in every building system. Take lighting for example. In addition to LED innovations, daylighting is an incredibly important source and still a major design challenge for working environments. Far too often, we’ve handed over lighting design to the electrical team, and interior façade layers to the interiors team, but today we’re finding the need to collaborate much more strongly than we did in the past.

In a few years, Loftness says, there will be an increased ability to personally adjust workplace environment settings through smartphone technology, thus saving significant amount of energy.

In a few years, Loftness says, there will be an increased ability to personally adjust workplace environment settings through smartphone technology, thus saving significant amount of energy.

The “internet of things” is allowing us to put sensors and controllers on every “terminal device” in the workplace. Today, we can see what lighting levels we have at our desk and can control each fixture independently—a big shift from where we’ve been in the past. Now, we can make choices and take action to make our environments more sustainable. In the very near future, every light fixture, every air diffuser, every plug point and every dynamic façade component will be digitally addressable with smart phone controllers to give the occupants a true say in their indoor environments and reduce energy consumption by about 40%.

CD: You’ve touched on the importance of building systems integration. CannonDesign prides itself on being highly integrated – do you have any advice for us?

VL: A firm that has the full suite of expertise is, potentially, far more competitive in today’s search for innovative buildings —but only if it truly acts as an integrated firm. For example, an engineering firm takes its new hires from college and throws them into a different specialty than what they studied in school, be it civil, mechanical or electrical engineering, thus forcing them to literally operate outside of their comfort zone. This creates a deeper understanding about the entire planning and building process and a commitment to true integration. If CannonDesign has methods in place that encourage breaking down silos—not just occasionally showing up at meetings together—then the partnership will reap the benefits of being an integrated firm.

The second critical tip in successful integration is how strongly each member of the team believes in passive building systems. If you have a lighting engineer that says, “daylighting is an amenity, not a reliable light source” or if you have a mechanical engineer that says, “natural ventilation is not a guarantee of ventilation or thermal conditioning, and pressurized buildings are the answer,” you will not be able to create innovative façade solutions. If you are not committed to “unplugged” solutions you will have a weak link in your chain of producing a high-performing building.

CD: You live and work in Pittsburgh and have a real love for the city. What are some things you love about it?

VL: Pittsburgh is always a surprise for new visitors and even a surprise for those who haven’t been here in 20 years. It’s an idyllic setting where two rivers form a third at the foothills of the Allegheny, and it’s a hilly city unlike a mid-western city. It’s filled with green slopes and has five large Olmstead parks. Where these two rivers form a third, the city skyline is a crescendo with a dense urban core. The smoke is gone. The mills have disappeared. What was once a hundred miles of industry along the waterfront has slowly but surely been turned into some of the most beautiful greenways and developments in any city.

LEED-CertifiedIt’s also a leading green city largely because of a host of firms including Astorino (Astorino joined CannonDesign in 2014). They designed many landmark buildings in the downtown and surrounding area and they have a real commitment to green building design. Because of their efforts and others like them, Pittsburgh now has one of the largest arrays of LEED certified buildings in the country in relation to its size. For all who can come see the presentation in-person, it is being held at Phipps Conservatory. Through the leadership of Richard Piacentini, Phipps has added a series of cutting-edge LEED buildings, including a brilliant net-zero energy and net-zero water Living Building Challenge office and classroom building that has gone through a full year of reporting and data mining on its building systems. And, since it is a conservatory, it has some of the most beautiful flowers you can ever imagine. So, if anyone from CannonDesign is in driving distance, I would highly encourage you to visit for the presentation!

Vivian Loftness will be speaking at Phipps conservatory in Pittsburgh on October 28 as part of CannonDesign’s Environmental Awareness Week (EAW). EAW is CannonDesign’s annual celebration of smart ideas, innovative technologies and iconoclastic thinkers that help guide our progress toward becoming a regenerative practice.

Learn more about our EAW event in Pittsburgh >

Read our interview with Michael Harcourt on more EAW Topics >

On Resiliency and Urbanization: An Interview with Lance Jay Brown

  • October 12, 2015
  • Author: Danielle Forsyth

Lance Jay Brown on Resiliency and UrbanizationLance Jay Brown, FAIA, DPACSA, is the principal of Lance Jay Brown Architecture + Urban Design in New York City, fellow of the Institute for Urban Design, ACSA Distinguished Professor at the City College of New York’s Spitzer School of Architecture, and served as 2014 President of the American Institute of Architects’ New York Chapter. He is a recipient of the prestigious AIA/ACSA Topaz Medallion for Excellence in Architectural Education and more recently received local and national awards for his Post-Sandy work. He will be presenting in our NYC office on October 27th during our Environmental Awareness Week (EAW).

CannonDesign: What topics are you planning to focus on for the EAW event?

Lance Jay Brown: My experiences over the last decade or more have exposed me to a wide variety of changes that are happening in the world as we know it. They range from addressing global challenges, such as the great movement toward urbanization around the world, to studying the evolving city in the U.S. and internationally. There are also many local challenges, including resiliency, housing affordability, and the role of the public realm. Recently, much of my focus has been on the effects of hurricane Sandy.

CD: Can you elaborate on your work on resiliency and the need for preparedness in today’s world?

LJB: I look upon my engagement in the post-Sandy world as having started in the post-9/11 world. During that time, I think I became personally sensitized to being prepared for disastrous and potentially tragic events. I knew I was a part of a large urban community of 8 million people, but it was my home and I wondered how ready we were to deal with something of that magnitude again. And I don’t think it was a stretch to say we weren’t ready enough.

Design for Risk and Reconstruction

Courtesy of

A few years after, there was an onslaught of natural disasters around the world, including the devastating Shri Lanka tsunami in 2004. With all of these on my mind, I decided to form a task force named The Disaster Preparedness Task Force. It wasn’t a committee or heavily sanctioned, but it had good people from the American Institute of Architects New York Chapter, the American Planning Association, the American Society of Landscape Architects, and the Regional Plan Association. With this small group, we were able to discuss what we could do to better prepare ourselves for disasters of every kind. During this time, I also did some research and found that only three states—California, Texas and Kansas—had an AIA disaster preparedness manual. New York State didn’t yet have one.

Our task force eventually drafted that disaster preparedness manual for AIA New York State. And at some point along the way, around 2010, the work of our task force was seen as important enough to be sanctioned as a standing committee of the AIA NY chapter: the AIANY Design for Risk and Reconstruction Committee (also known as the DfRR). In the last 5 years, it has become one of the most robust and active of AIA NY’s 27 committees. You can see more of the story of our committee by going to

CD: So when Hurricane Sandy hit New York City, how did the committee respond?

LJB: When Sandy arrived, we were a cohort of people ready to take action. We didn’t have to start from scratch—we were ahead of the curve for once. Our ability to respond was fairly nimble and we were called to the NYS Office of Emergency Management to discuss immediate next steps. At the same time we were doing work on the ground, we were organizing the AIA New York chapter and all of the related committees to start to do research as to how we could respond to the challenges presented.

With about 400 of us working together and in collaboration with ACEC NY, ASLA NY, CHPC, NYSAFFAH, APA NY Metro, RPA, and SEAoNY, we put together a complete, 43-page report entitled the Post-Sandy Initiative. We cited six special areas that needed attention; it was the first document published in response to Hurricane Sandy. The document lives on even today as an extremely useful template for any post-disaster report that can be used for other cities, regions and communities. The full report and its eight- page executive summary is available on the DfRR website.

The aftermath of Hurricane Sandy the Battery Park Underpass

In the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, the Battery Park Underpass is seen completely flooded along the West Street entrance looking north in Lower Manhattan.

CD: Anything else you will be touching on in your presentation?

LJB: I’m also going to touch on my writings related to urban recentralization and design, and my work with the United Nations and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) that will be discussed fully at the U.N. Habitat III meeting in 2016 in Quito, Ecuador. The U.N., in its long history, has largely focused on the developing world. During that same amount of time, the urban population has grown and, for the first time in history, is globally larger than the non-urban population. The population of the world just last year became over 50% urbanized. The SDGs includes a goal which focuses on cities and topics such as mobility, transportation, housing, public space—many of the things that engage the design profession.

Sustainable Development Goals

The design profession has a unique opportunity to align itself better with these goals and can respond to new challenges and innovate new methods of design and planning that did not previously exist. My advice is to expand the fields and integrate the silos of how we work because the nature of sustainability and resiliency is extremely collaborative. I would like to see the design profession take the lead in collaborative actions that respond creatively to the emerging resiliency environment.

Lance Jay Brown will be speaking in New York City on October 27th at the CannonDesign office as part of our Environmental Awareness Week (EAW). EAW is CannonDesign’s annual celebration of smart ideas, innovative technologies and iconoclastic thinkers that help guide our progress toward becoming a regenerative practice.

Learn more about our EAW event in NYC >

Read our interview with Michael Harcourt on more EAW topics >


Community Energy, “Vancouverisms” and the Livable City: An Interview with Michael Harcourt

  • October 5, 2015
  • Author: Danielle Forsyth


Michael Harcourt’s story is expansive and rich with success in the sustainability field.

From practicing law, to mayor of Vancouver, to premier of British Columbia, and eventually to full-time sustainability advocate, Michael’s knowledge about the challenges we face and the opportunities to overcome them is inspiring. His self-identified “patient persistence” while working with all levels of civic and local entities has resulted in tangible outcomes and improved energy performance throughout Canada. Speaking with him and hearing his passion for livable cities (and his love for his home in Vancouver) makes us very excited for his presentation on October 29 during our Environmental Awareness Week (EAW).

CannonDesign: Can you tell us a little bit about what you are planning to present for our EAW event?

Michael: I’m very excited and interested in your program and am always looking for new avenues to move this important message forward. This interview is very timely because I just flew back from a conference in Quebec City yesterday with BOMA (Building Owners and Managers Association) and, as a trial run, I did the kind of presentation that I’d like to do for CannonDesign.

I began with the fact that cities and urban living are a massive driver in today’s economy ($350 trillion according to a Booz Allen study) and organizations like BOMA and CannonDesign are right in the sweet spot of all of it. City planning is all about choices and consequences and I’ll go into how to implement a sustainable city strategy. Also I’ll go into how the role of energy impacts our lives and how organizations like the Quality Urban Energy Systems of Tomorrow (QUEST) are paving the way to implement community energy plans. We’ve had great success implementing these plans in over 180 communities all across Canada.

CD: Wow, it’s encouraging seeing all of that traction around implementing sustainable plans in communities.

MH: It is great because when you think about green buildings, that’s all well and good, but how are you going to cool them and heat them? And if we’re going to change how we transport ourselves—moving more toward walking, cycling, electric vehicles—how are you going to integrate that? Same with power and electricity. In Canada we’re fortunate to have ¾ of our energy come from sustainable means. In the US, it’s almost the reverse at this point. I’ve been lucky enough to head up the Canadian Electricity Association’s Sustainable Electricity Program Advisory Panel and we are making a huge investment ($350 billion) in sustainable infrastructure for Canada’s future.

CD: It seems like Canada is really embracing these strategies in its communities and cities. What do you think the challenges are to roll out something similar in the US?

MH: There’s challenges with leadership. There’s challenges with dealing with the coal industry, which is fighting tooth-and-nail and losing in an economic sense. However, the market is sorting itself out there and with President Obama’s push on clean energy, I think it’s starting to take hold.

CD: Tell me a little bit more about your success with QUEST. What have you seen come out of that type of program and how can we learn from it?

MH: There is a great concrete example in Guelph. We implemented a community energy plan there and now they are seeing an 80% reduction in carbon emissions. QUEST has immense traction now to the point where we were asked by all of the federal and provincial ministers of the environment and energy to advise them of where Canada should be going with its energy future. We convened in a workshop in April of this year and we came up with very specific recommendations where Canada should be making orderly transitions from petroleum-based products and energy to local, renewable energy efficiency and energy conservation tactics. We got a very good response when we presented it to the ministers in July and we are going to keep building that momentum.

CD: Can you talk a little bit about your hometown of Vancouver and how it might be succeeding in ways that are better than other comparable cities?

MH: We are going to take a deep-dive into this topic in my upcoming presentation. We actually identify some of the key decisions made by the city that have made it one of the most livable cities in the world. For example, I show the west end of the city that all of a sudden sprouted dozens of high-rise and condominium towers and I show other neighborhoods where we brought people back into the downtown area after being banned from 1932-1975. That’s right, we couldn’t live in our downtown because of the zoning. People worked downtown and got in their cars and freewayed back to their suburban homes. We changed that dramatically in 1975 with a new council that I was part of. We sought to re-energize the inner city and get people to live in the downtown area and we’ve seen huge success with that plan, bringing well over 100,000 people in over the years.

It’s a very lively downtown now, and there’s a phrase for it called “Vancouverism” because we’ve adopted more micro-planning approvals than other cities that are really unique to Vancouver and can’t be found anywhere else. There’s also great examples of forward-thinking from leaders that brought both a world’s fair in 1986 and the winter Olympics in 2010 and made those events into legacy success stories rather than financial burdens. We are still reaping the benefits of a lot of that infrastructure today such as the rapid transit system, new bridge over False Creek and a trade conference and cruise ship pavilion. So, with the city being pretty tough and ruthless about not getting into debt and thinking long-term, we were able to come out of those two world events as a huge positive.

CD: Any last thoughts?

MH: I just want to reiterate for organizations like CannonDesign, there is huge potential to shape our cities and communities for the better. There are so many opportunities for CannonDesign to be a part of this huge multi-trillion dollar industry of city planning and design. The world is your oyster. If we can plan our cities well, we will reap the benefits for centuries to come.

Michael Harcourt will be speaking in Vancouver on October 29 at Capilano University as part of CannonDesign’s Environmental Awareness Week (EAW). EAW is CannonDesign’s annual celebration of smart ideas, innovative technologies and iconoclastic thinkers that help guide our progress toward becoming a regenerative practice.

RSVP to Michael Harcourt’s presentation >

High Praise for the LEED Platinum Eckerd College James Center

  • August 21, 2015
  • Author: Danielle Forsyth


The International Institute for Sustainable Laboratories’ Windy City Chapter hosted an event at CannonDesign’s Chicago office to discuss the sustainable laboratory solutions for Eckerd College and Yale University.

Eckerd College’s Laura Reiser Wetzel, Ph.D., Professor of Marine Science & Geosciences was a co-speaker with CannonDesign’s Punit Jain, AIA, LEED Fellow. She gave high praise for the building’s LEED Platinum certification that includes many innovative sustainable design solutions to conserve water and energy in the hot Florida climate.

Additionally, she enjoys the daylight, and transparency throughout the building. Dr. Wetzel emphasized the “science on display” mantra that is present when students, faculty and parents walk through the main hallways. The labs are open and work is constantly displayed for all to see.

Find out more about the Eckerd College James Center for Molecular and Life Sciences >