Inspire Seminar: Architecture, Landscape Architecture, Planning

Interested in Architecture, Landscape Architecture, and/or Planning? Come join us at the Inspire Seminar where there will be presentations made by industry professionals in the three fields. Presentations will be made by Dialog Design, McElhanney Consulting Services, and O2 Planning + Design. Furthermore a representative will be on hand from the Faculty of Environmental Design to answer any admissions or general questions. The presentations will by followed by an open floor for guests to connect with the industry professionals and with peers. Pizza will be served!

Where: University of Calgary,  MSC Escalus Room-Enter into the hallway to the right of La Taqueria, and follow the signs all the way to the last room!

When: November 30, 2016

Doors open at 5:15pm and presentations begin at 5:30pm

RSVP : Inspire Seminar 

UrbanCSA End of Year Wrap Up 2016


We know its been a busy year.. So come take a night off, and hang with your peers, the executives and UrbanCSA alumni! Ask the alumni for tips and pointers for life after graduation and wish our graduates good luck! We hope to see you there for some beers and pizza!

Register here!

Arts Co-Op Program

A message from the Arts Co-OP Program:
The next application deadline for the Arts Co-op Program is May 1st and there will be an Information Session for interested students on March 30, 12-1pm, in SS010. Register for the event at career, or for more information check out!
This is a opportunity to find out more on how you can “Work, Earn and Learn” at the same time. Click here for the brochure (right click, open in new tab if it doesn’t work the first time).

Executive Positions 2016/2017

Hello everyone,

It is that time again when the school year of 2015/2016 is almost coming to an end. This means that we are looking for three (3) new members for our Executive. Rajbir Dhaliwal and Dustin MacDonald have assumed the roles of Co-Presidents.

We are looking for:

  • VP – Operations & Finance
  • VP – Communications
  • VP – Marketing and Events

For a description of this positions click here, and for the application form click here. (if the link doesn’t work by clicking on it, right click and open in new tab)

Email the applications by MARCH 21ST 12:00PM to

We look forward to your interest in UrbanCSA!

Green Line LRT Lunch and Learn

The Green Line will be an important piece of Calgary’s transit network, adding 40 KM of track to the exisiting 59 KM LRT system. End-to-end, the line will connect north and southeast Calgary with fast, reliable transit service and create neighbourhoods where Calgarians can live, work and play close to transit.

We are very thrilled to announce this event! The City of Calgary is hosting, in conjunction with UrbanCSA, a lunch and learn regarding the new Green Line LRT! Come with your UrbanCSA membership, or you can buy one at the door for lunch and refreshments! Your membership is payable at the door with either Cash or Credit Card transactions!

WHEN: Thursday, 26 November 2015 from 12:00 PM to 1:30 PM

WHERE: Excalus Room, MacHall. MH 234

Please visit the Eventbrite website to register for this event!

Hult Prize

Hurt Prize is an organization that holds a yearly challenge to students to solve global issues. In exchange for creating a sustainable social-enterprise that provides a solution, the team will be awarding $1 Million for start up funding. The challenge this year is surrounding Crowded Urban Spaces!

One of our members, Erin Lloyd is holding a meeting in TFDL 260F on Monday October 26th, from 2PM to 4PM to brainstorm ideas and determine the interest levels of individuals. You can email her, or attend the meeting if you wish to join this team.

Check out the Hult Prize website for more details!

Speaker Series #1

Please join us and our guest speakers Andrew Sedor and Guillermo Guglietti, UrbanCSA and U of C alumni, to hear about some opportunities that are availale to students who graduate with an Urban Studies degree, to find out what it’s really like to work in the field after graduation, the importance of project management, other practical applications and a chance to ask some further questions.

Our first Speaker Series is commencing on Wednesday October 21st, 2015. Starting at 6:00PM in SA109

Please RSVP by going to the EventBrite page!

Volunteer Opportunities

A message from our VP-Academic,  Jaffra.

Getting involved in your local community association planning committee is a great way of gaining valuable experience in urban planning and giving back to the community in which you live. If you are looking to better understand the urban planning process and how residents can influence development in their area I highly recommend getting involved!

Obviously some community associations are more active than others and have more development than others, so it may be worth asking a community other than the one you reside in if they will allow you to volunteer on the planning committee. Many of the inner city communities are facing significant development pressures and have a strong need for dedicated volunteers to help advocate for the needs and desires of the community.

Volunteering is a great way to build up your resume while networking with different people and organizations that provide future career opportunities, but I strongly recommend that you only volunteer if you are willing to commit to helping out for a longer period of time. Many of the projects that community planning committees are working on are long-term projects, and they rely on motivated and dedicated people to see these projects through to the end. As Calgary residents and people who are interested in urban development, politics and social issues in your city you are a great asset to these organizations if you are willing to commit the time.

In addition to learning about the planning process through volunteering at community associations, there are also workshops that are put on by the Federation of Calgary Communities. The Partners in Planning Program (PIP) is an award-winning planning certificate training program offered by the Federation of Calgary Communities in partnership with The City of Calgary. It is geared towards helping community association planning volunteers and the public develop skills for effective participation in the planning process. The workshops occur on Saturday mornings and free as long as you pre-register and are a member or volunteer for a community association that is a part of the Federation.

UrbanCSA Mentorship Program


Starting this year you will be able to apply to be apart of the UrbanCSA mentorship program. We would like to encourage a stronger relationship with those who are starting off in Urban Studies with those who are almost done their degrees. Look to the new Mentorship tab for more details and the application forms and make sure to submit them before the September 30th deadline!

Once we have all applications for this program, we will also have a Mentorship Program Mixer after everyone has been placed with their mentor.


– If you are a 1st or 2nd year student who would like a mentor, submit an application.
– If you are a 3rd year or older student who wants to mentor someone else, submit an application

Executive Council

As the school year is soon to be starting for the 2015/2016 year, you are probably wondering who is your Executive Council for UrbanCSA. If you click on Executive Council and select “Meet Your Executive Council” you will now see little biographies of each of your Council members!

A group photo will be posted soon, but for now come find us at Clubs Week and the Arts Resource Fair to find out who we are in person!

2015/2016 Executive Positions

We are now accepting applications for
the 2015/2016 academic year.

Vice President Operations & Finance
Vice President Communications
Vice President Academic

To apply for a position, please fill out the attached application and email to by Friday April 3rd.

Descriptions of positions can be found here.

The form can be downloaded here.

We look forward to receiving all applications!

Modernism Week in Palm Springs: A Review

 Kauffman Desert House designed by Richard Neutra

Kauffman Desert House designed by Richard Neutra

The annual festival Modernism Week which takes place in Palm Springs, California, is a celebration of Mid-Century Modernism spotlighting its prominent architecture and design, as well as art, fashion and culture. This year’s event lasting from February 12th to 22th, marked its Ten Year Anniversary, featuring over 100 events. It included signature home tours, film screenings and lectures, Premier Double decker Architectural bus tours, as well as sale and exhibitions of art and furniture. Not to mention classic car show and private pool parties hosted by the very owners of mid-century modern residences.

The event headquarters were located at Community Meeting Place cleverly named CAMP, situated at the most vital city’s street-Palm Canyon Road. Iconic Walk of Stars dedicated to Richard Neutra, Frank Sinatra’s ‘Twin Palms’ Estate Tour and The Christopher Kennedy Compound were a couple of many remarkable sights. Other tours included homes designed by A. Quincy Jones, Albert Fray, Donald Wexler, E. Steward Williams, Hugh M. Kaptur, William F. Cody and William Krisel. Special release for Modernism Week 2015 was the book “Desert Modernists-The Architects who Envisioned Midcentury Modern Palm Springs”,  that includes architects mentioned above as well as others who through their visions and work, made Palm Springs a centerpiece of mid-century modernism. After the desert sun got replaced by the star-filled sky, event guests and the city’s residents enjoyed Illuminated Modern installations showcasing renowned local architecture, displaying names of their exceptional creators and dates of construction.

One of the most compelling events for a student interested in city planning and architecture was the  symposium Urban Vision and Public Space, hosted by the Palm Springs Art Museum Architecture and Design Council. Panel presentations focused on planning and design solutions providing aesthetic, healthy, community engaging and connecting environment fostering economic benefit and sustainability. Keynote speakers included Charles Montgomery, broadly recognizes author of the book “Happy City: Transforming our Lives Through Urban Design” who is currently residing in Vancouver. As well as Marry Margaret Jones, a senior Principal in Charge of Hargreaves Associates, responsible for projects such as Year 2000 Sydney Olympics Master Concept Design, who is also currently leading the design of Destination Bayfront in Corpus Christi project in Texas. Panel discussion included Palm Springs City Planning Director, The Executive Director of the Agua Caliente Cultural Museum and Chair of local Planning Commission presenting historic overview and city planning issues Palm Springs is facing today.

Modernism Week is not only an enjoyable event elevating the aesthetic elegance and excellence of local architecture and its creators, it also strives to engage city’s guests and residents in contemporary thinking, stimulating preservation and sustainable modern living. Last year’s event estimated the economic impact bringing $17 million to Palm Springs; more than $219,000 of revenue generated by neighborhood tours was given back to communities to assist with improvements of landscaping, restoration, and retaining authenticity. Modernism Week is a nonprofit as well as charitable organization. It encourages education and provides scholarships for local prospect students interested in Architecture and Design, and also includes grants issued to Preservation Organizations of California’s modernist architecture.

Modernism Week Fall preview for October 9-12, 2015 can be found on the website:

Writing and Photography by Helga Packeviciute, UrbanCSA Member

Major in Urban Studies, University of Calgary

The Blog: Creative Destruction and Calgary’s Spatial Fixes

1 image

David Harvey theorizes that the spatial pattern of globalized capitalism can be understood in terms of spatial ‘fixes.’ Short-term reconfigurations of space become the vehicle through which problems (often related to capital accumulation) are resolved. However, this is often a contradictory process: a space that was once historically used for one phase of development is destroyed to make way for a new spatial fix to resolve a crisis. Lately I’ve been thinking about Calgary in the context of this kind of theory. I haven’t really fleshed it out yet, but here are some fun facts. They may or may not be related.

  • In 1998, following a manufactured debt crisis and subsequent province-wide budget cuts, the Calgary General Hospital in Bridgeland was demolished in a dramatic fashion. You can see the video below:
  • In a presentation at the Parkland Institute, Jordan Hamilton observed that much of the original housing stock that existed in downtown and the East Village has been demolished; over 56 structures that provided housing in the area have been destroyed or closed since 1970. You can view his presentation here at about the 30-minute mark.

2 inage

  • In a recent piece for FFWD, Drew Anderson provides a thoughtful analysis of Calgary’s housing crisis. Drew points out how financially debilitating the housing market is, and how hostile and largely ineffective the political establishment has been in foreseeing and addressing the crisis. His last paragraph is particularly insightful:

Even if we could get secondary suites approved throughout the city, there’s no guarantee it will solve our housing crisis. Will there be a flood of people building suites, saturating the market and bringing prices down? Unlikely, at least in the short term. It certainly can’t hurt, but the fact we can’t even get this Band-Aid solution through council demonstrates just how far this city still has to go in order to live up to its hype as a great place to live. Because the truth is, for vast swaths of the population, this isn’t a great place to live; it’s a place to scrape by while praying your landlord doesn’t up the rent.

Also at the Parkland Institute, John Kolkman presented his findings on poverty and inequality in Alberta. What was super disturbing about his presentation was this graph.
3 image

  • And yeah, the bottom 50% actually have seen negative growth (down by 8%) in after-tax income growth over the last 30 years, as opposed to the 235.5% increase in income seen by Calgary’s 0.01%.
  • Lastly, a few hundred meters from the site of the former General Hospital (featured at the top of this post in a cloud of smoke), is the East Village! There are plans to build upscale condos, a shiny library, and a shiny National Music Centre there.

4 image

 – Written by Joël Laforest. He is an Urban Studies major and frequent contributor to the UrbanCSA blog

If Mayors Rules the World: Event Review

Last Wednesday, October 15th, the Calgary Chamber of Commerce brought the brightest political, scholarly and business minds together and hosted an outstanding world-class event in the panoramic setting afforded by the 54th floor of Calgary’s newest and tallest building – The Bow. With an audience populated by notable Calgary business persons from EnCana Corporation, Brookfield Residential Properties and Nexen to name a few; dignitaries; local business owners, and some nervous students, the floor was set for an evening of noteworthy speakers sharing their ideas and engaging in the promising conversations.

Mayor Naheed Nenshi began the evening by introducing the concept of humanity and togetherness in communities post crises. He referenced his experiences with the recent problems that have affected Calgary in the last year: the 2013 flood, recent fallen trees and power outages; these he says, represent demonstrate the remarkable humanitarian effort by Calgary citizens and local government during the cleanup after the disasters. He spotlighted the tight bonds created in our city and how those unaffected by the calamitous events came to assist those who lost homes and belongings and had to stop businesses operations due to the power of nature. Moreover, Mayor Nenshi highlighted the key role of a mayor that is to be in touch with everyone in order to truly represent the interests of the city. ‘God bless the garbage men’ he emphatically stated, emphasising the fact that regardless of place in society,  a city cannot function without all its necessary parts, and that his role as Mayor of Calgary is to represent the voice of every member of our city.

photo 1

Following on from Mayor Nenshi, the key note speaker Dr. Benjamin Barber took the floor. Dr Barber, a political theorist at the Graduate Center on Philanthropy and Civil Society of City University of New York, as well as president and founder of the Interdependence Movement, and author of seventeen books, set forth his philosophy of poly-cultural cities and their municipal pragmatic governments. His concepts centre around pragmatic municipal governments which are empowered by the central government to look over its citizens, not countries built on impaired institutions, rigid ideologies and sovereignty practices.

Citing research from America that suggests an increase in confidence in the roles of local governments that falls in line with figures for US Congress, Dr. Barber highlighted that the mayor of the city has a greater opportunity to maintain a role of both figurehead and part of the community, thus increasing the togetherness of the city. Dr. Barber followed on with a discussion of his philosophies by stating that democracy, interdependence and sustainability are the key elements to achieve success in problem solving on an international arena, providing the highlights of the first “The Parliament of Majors” meeting in London, 2015. This meeting  will represent the perfect future opportunity for an intercity collaborative discussion helping to combat universal problems of pandemics, terrorism, disease, and environmental issues. According to Dr. B. Barber, it is global democracy that combats these fundamental issues and challenges. ‘Tearing down” 17th century Nation State walls will allow room for discussion between city mayors. The creation of leaders who are conscious of their city’s life, would lead to cross-country collaboration, creativity and prosperity of multiculturalism.

After the formal talks had finished and the backdrop of the glorious Calgary night vista of The Bow kept the participants breathless, all speakers were amenable to further enquiry by the thoroughly engaged and compelled audience members. The event achieved its purpose to not only discuss the role of mayors and the importance of their engagement in the city life, but also went beyond picturing Calgary’s future as a leading city one day aligning with Paris, Brussels, Washington and New York.

This event is part of the “Great Cities” series by the Chamber of Commerce. The next event “Open Data” is to be held on November 13th. More information can be found at the link below:

Next time, we hope to see you there!

Helga Packeviciute


Helga Packeviciute is an Urban Studies major in University of Calgary. Her interests in architecture, sustainable urban planning and public engagement have drawn her to join UrbanCSA this Fall, 2014. When seeking for the break from her studies, she can be found running trails or skiing slopes in the Rockies.

photo 2

The Blog: A City for Whom? Thoughts on Calgary’s Housing Crisis

Calgary’s residential vacancy rate the lowest in the country and its rental costs among the highest. The residential vacancy rate is hovering around 1.4 per cent, and the average rent for a two-bedroom apartment in Calgary is $1,267. Faced with a housing crisis, Premier Jim Prentice delivered a choice line: “I believe that the only real solution for this is the market.”

This is a surprising statement about an industry that has been carefully orchestrated and guided by government policy. First, the nature of land as a commodity is an issue. Karl Polanyi describes the establishment of land as commodity an “entirely fictitious” though necessary and useful exercise: one cannot really produce land, store it in warehouses, or convert entire landscapes into raw elements (though some try). So while it’s not a real commodity, in the same way that linen coats or widgets are, it gets treated as one as a basic part of a market system – one can’t have a factory without a place to put it. To turn land into commodity, it has to be given a status through laws, in institutions, and so on: this is called government intervention.

Beyond this theoretical feature of land-as-commodity, consider also the fact that housing has been massively shaped by the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC), a Crown corporation. Historically the CMHC has financed suburbanization across the country through low-cost mortgages, and today, ensures residential mortgage loans as part of its mandate. As Richard Harris argues, a particular kind of housing (suburbs) and a particular way of financing it (CMHC) made it the only readily available housing option for most post-war Canadians.

All this is to say: it’s a bit rich that Prentice is deploying “the market” as the solution, when “the market” is itself orchestrated by government policy. This is a way of avoiding the issue, while explicitly offering support for the beneficiaries of the current system.

Who benefits from the current system? High housing prices are great for people who happen to own lots of housing, build housing, and invest in housing. If you happen to rent property, high demand works in your favour. If you sell homes, sell mortgages, or sink a chunk of your paycheque into a mortgage payment on a regular basis, a higher price, higher property value, and high demand probably work in your favour.

An unfortunate result of suburbanization and the accompanying home-ownership craze, as David Harvey has noted, has been a new kind of politics: focusing community action towards the defence of property values and individualized identities. By contrast, a functioning democracy might allow for the following questions to be worked out politically: what kind of city do we want to live in? Who is included? Who is excluded? How should we allocate our collective resources?

Narrowing the discourse about housing (and cities generally) to simple “market realities” excludes social actors that aren’t major market players – like the working poor, the young, the homeless, the unlucky – and is a way of avoiding what should be a political and democratic conversation, and turning it into a decidedly more private and profitable one.

 – Joël Laforest is an Urban Studies major and contributor to the UrbanCSA blog

The Blog: Zombies and Urban Space

A precondition to the eruption of a zombie horde is an empty street. A newspaper, or tumbleweed, caught in the wind floats across the abandoned scene. The soundtrack ramps up, and the flesh-eating undead turn the corner. A perfect setting for the classic zombie story.

Most people would consider zombies the creepy part of this scene. But really, the scene is creepy before they appear: the street is empty, and the uncomfortable strangeness and isolation that results from the empty street makes discovery of the zombie horde all the more chilling. The people that were supposed to be populating the street are gone. The monstrous aspect of the undead is paired with an absence of people from the urban milieu. People have been removed from urban life, and it creates an exposed, isolating setting, where all manner of terrible things can occur. The absence of life from the street creates the conditions for a total breakdown of social order, and urban space is transformed: no longer homes, shops, streets and parks, the city is now a survivalist battleground where horror reigns. This is the opposite effect of Jane Jacobs’ “eyes on the street”—the absence of street-level human activity transforms the space into an occasion for terror.

One key insight that I find particularly useful from psychogeographical texts is the importance ascribed to the subjective human experience in urban settings, and in particular, the emotional and imaginative states experienced as one journeys through urban space. The strength of this type of analysis is that in addition to the various technical and architectural specifications common to urban design (street/sidewalk distance, pedestrian access, zoning), psychogeography takes into account the importance of the imagination. Streets and cities are not made up simply of bricks, concrete, cement, trees, and signage, but provide the context for continuous imagining of scenarios as humans walk about them. House by human brains, cities are where dreams and fears walk around.

The reason one particular area might feel exciting, or another dangerous and fright-inducing, has to do precisely with how the technical / architectural / design features of an urban landscape interact with this human imaginative capacity. One fears murder, monsters and being mugged when entering a dark, menacing alleyway; one feels caught up in a world of dreams when engaged in a street carnival; one feels a part of a bustling community and economy when strolling through a busy market.

This is more obvious when the rhetoric and mythology surrounding individual cities is explored. The sloganeering around cities is engaged precisely in the manipulation of imagination and linking this imaginative process to particular spatial zones. Nothing about the brick-and-mortar identifies Calgary as “heart of the New West”, or city of mavericks, or whatever it’s called now. This sloganeering is intended to spur a certain set of imaginings when walking about the city: oneself as a pioneer, as intrepid, as exploring or breaking new ground, as part of a “new” economy and community.

When engaging in arguments for density, pedestrian-friendly design and cycle lanes, it can be easy to get away from how urban spaces make you feel. So here’s an important question: how do you feel when walking around Calgary? Perhaps more directly: how many of Calgary’s streets are primed for a zombie outbreak? In what areas are there sufficient “eyes on the street” to make you feel safe? What streets, as you walk through the city, make a pedestrian feel abandoned, uncomfortable or downright spooked?

Joël Laforest is an Urban Studies major and contributor to the UrbanCSA blog. He is well-versed in psychogeography and an avid fan of science fiction.

Secondary Suites: Campus Engagement

UrbanCSA will be organizing a campaign on the Secondary Suites issue with various events on campus for student engagement for next 8 weeks!


Secondary Suites Engagement Assistants

We require voluntary staff for our Secondary Suites Student Engagement Campaign from November 3rd to November 15th. Flexible hours available. We need help campaigning through social media and university groups, running engagement on campus, to ultimately present to City Council in December. This is a great way to gain experience with municipal policy and gain experience with public engagement.

Contact us @

Blog Submissions

Blog Contributors
Want to share your opinions about urban issues? Whether you want to contribute on a one-time basis or with consistent submissions, we are looking for writers interested in urban-related issues. This includes but is no way limited to housing, local food culture, urban economies, art and architecture, and municipal politics. Free editing and writing advice if you are a novice. To get an idea of what our blog is about, visit
For all volunteering opportunities, contact Kylee at
*Volunteer hours will be rewarded with co-cirricular credit. Find out more about your co-cirricular record here: