March 22, 2022
Francis Green - Google Earth   Our staff occasionally assemble on Friday afternoons for an office exercise we call Things We Like. Centred around a theme determined earlier in the week, staff are invited to share examples of relevant things they enjoy. Since our first Things We Like in 2016, our staff have participated in 75 of these exercises. Some themes are intended to generate ideas for projects we're working on, while others are simply intended to encourage creativity and generate discussion about things we'd like to see in our community.    Preliminary Sketch of Downtown Kitchener, 1965 - Toronto Star   In May 2018, we met to reenvision Francis Green, the public space located at King and Francis in downtown Kitchener. This prominent corner wh… Read more ...
April 19, 2022
  It has become something of an office tradition for our staff to participate in Jane's Walk, the annual community-based approach to city building that uses volunteer-led walking tours to encourage people to rediscover the value of walking, and to observe, reflect, share, question and re-imagine the places in which they live, work and play. With the return to in-person events for 2022, no less than three of our staff members have planned Jane's Walks for the first full weekend of May (7-8).    The Towers Among Us, with John   On Saturday afternoon, John is inviting the community on a walk around downtown to learn about the history of architectural towers and the factors that govern their design. … Read more ...
John was recently invited to deliver a keynote address to the Southern Ontario Growth Conference, organized by 50 by 2030 Waterloo Region. The focus of the second day, when John spoke, was to help municipalities connect with organizations, experts, academia and other municipalities who have knowledge and resources to help them better incorporate responses to climate change into their official plans.   John's address, titled The middle isn’t missing, it has been misplaced, is now up on YouTube and can be viewed below:     With respect to the planning of our communities, John's keynote advocates for fundamental changes to the planning process, and for transparency in the planners' role, to give us hope for different result… Read more ...

Enrich your experience of architecture with tips on how to draw from your own perceptions.

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John MacDonald   I’ve been reading an article entitled Why You Should Use an Architect for Your Project, from the 2011 Ontario Association of Architects "Profiles 2011" Membership guide. Although  the article is interesting, informative, and mostly on target in the mind of this particular architect, I couldn’t help but wonder how a broader audience receives its message.   The article basically takes the point of view that a professional can help you make informed and important decisions about your project, with your best interests in mind. So far so good. It also points out that your project can benefit from the architect’s perspective on how the project can contribute to the quality of our communities and public interest. That̵… Read more ...
February 01, 2021
Because our architectural practice and work is rooted in the physical world and the landscape that our designs affect, it’s important that this blog stay “grounded”. Literally.   Although discussions about design are often abstracted from context, that’s not us. Our work and interest is about making and enhancing particular places.   That’s why we’ve decided that Design and Community has a physical lifeline, which is the particular natural, rural, urban, and suburban mix associated with the Grand River Watershed, where our office and many of our projects are located.   We often think of a watershed as a geographic unit divorced from our built form. It’s not.    The t… Read more ...
January 12, 2021
What Do You Think?   Welcome. We wish you the best in 2021. Safest and healthiest too!   This blog entry is the first in a series of “What do you Think …” posts that we’d like to share with our community. We’re trying to make our website a great forum for community ideas and discussions, so we’ll be introducing topics on a regular basis through the blog. We hope you join us from time to time, and let us know your thoughts in the comments section.    Share your thoughts on community building, whether it's the bricks and mortar type, or about how to strengthen the social fabric of the places where we live, work and play.     We are excited to get your feedback and engage the community on topics t… Read more ...
“Cities have the capability of providing something for everybody, only because, and only when, they are created by everybody.” – Jane Jacobs   Every year citizens in cities across the globe gather to participate in organized walking tours in honour of Jane Jacobs. Jane was an activist and writer who introduced the world to ground-breaking ideas about community-based approaches to city building. She believed that it is important for local residents to become familiar with their neighbourhoods and have input on how their neighbourhood develops. Jane’s Walks are hosted each year on the first weekend of May and focus on a variety of themes relevant to the local planning, history, people and culture of the city in which the walks take place. … Read more ...

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