The Laws of Settlements

June 24, 2019 in Design, History

From a small Nova Scotia town to booming Barcelona to the mega-city of Jakarta, are there any laws that govern all human settlements? Are there consistent patterns that manage where people live, across scale and time? 

Back in the sixties, an architect and planner named Constantinos Doxiadis explored this question. He sought to understand the complexity and growth of human settlements. In his 1968 book called Ekistics: An Introduction to the Science of Human Settlements, Doxiadisspent 527 pages proposing a science of settlements. 

Today I am talking with Erick Villagomez, an urban designer, professor and writer in Vancouver who has revived and expanded on some elements of Doxiadis’ work. In 2017, Erick self-published a book called The Laws of Settlements. 



April 29, 2019 in Community, Design, History

Vancouver is often cited as one of the most successful cities in the world. Today, Vancouver’s inner city is filled with glass towers, townhouses, pedestrian paths, mountain views, public spaces and sidewalk cafes. The downtown is widely praised as being livable, sustainable and walkable. Now, this isn’t to say the city is without its challenges — including housing affordability, homelessness and social isolation. 

Overall, with both successes and challenges, downtown Vancouver has changed a great deal since the 1980s. 

Today’s episode explores how this city became the renowned place it is today. So, I thought I’d talk to someone who has been at the forefront of managing and instilling change in Vancouver since the 1970s. 

Larry Beasley is the founding principal of Beasley & Associates. Alongside Anne MacAfee, Larry was the co-chief planner at the City of Vancouver from the 1990s to the early 2000s. Before that, he was a community planner with the City. Since leaving the government in 2006, Larry has been practicing planning around the world. He also teaches at UBC’s School of Community and Regional Planning.

In this episode, Larry and I discuss his experiences as the co-chief of planning, his forthcoming book Vancouverism and some of his key lessons learned over his distinguished career.


The Origins of Olympic Plaza

September 4, 2018 in History

The Olympics are often remembered for the moments that happen during the event, but we thought we’d explore an example of the built legacy that Olympics and large scale events leave behind. Today, we’re going to dive into the history of Olympic Plaza in Calgary.

This episode explores the decisions made and key lessons learned from the construction of Calgary’s Olympic Plaza. Today, Calgary is grappling with the possibility of bidding on the 2026 Olympics, so Olympic infrastructure is top of mind for many Calgarians.

Let’s rewind a few decades to learn about how and why the plaza began. Today’s guest is Richard Parker.


Olympic Plaza site before construction. Photo from City of Calgary Archives.

Olympic Plaza site before construction. Photo from City of Calgary Archives.

Olympic Plaza opening day. Photo from City of Calgary Archives.

Concept image of Olympic Plaza. Photo from City of Calgary Archives.

Olympic Plaza Brick Program. Photo from City of Calgary Archives.

Olympic Plaza. Photo from City of Calgary Archives.