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Mayor Nenshi gives talk about future of planning and design to EVDS students and faculty

Distinguished alum part of the Chancellor Cuthbertson Student Lecture Series
April 4, 2017
University of Calgary alum and Calgary mayor Naheed Nenshi, BComm'93, spoke to Environmental Design students and faculty in a recent talk as part of the Chancellor Cuthbertson Student Lecture Series. Photo by Riley Brandt, University of Calgary

University of Calgary alum and Calgary mayor Naheed Nenshi, BComm'93, spoke to Environmental Design students and faculty in a recent talk as part of the Chancellor Cuthbertson Student Lecture Series. Photo by Riley Brandt, University of Calgary

Mayor Naheed Nenshi came to office promising to do city planning and design differently, and he reinforced his desire to push the envelope while addressing a classroom full of students and professors from the Faculty of Environmental Design (EVDS) on March 31.

The latest speaker in the Chancellor Cuthbertson Student Lecture Series, Nenshi, BComm’93, told the crowd of budding architects, landscape architects, environmental designers  and planners that the biggest obstacle to innovation is often entrenched bureaucratic processes.

“We have a tendency to regress to the mean, to build what we’ve built before,” said Nenshi. “We have to be able to let go of that. If we want something new that hasn’t been done before, we have to be bold. We have to be brave.”

City should be able to tap the best and brightest: Nenshi

Nenshi said that ultimately, the city should be able to tap the best and brightest architects, engineers, landscape architects, planners and artists from around the world who want to come to Calgary because they know their creativity and innovative ideas will be well received here. He also wants to instil that desire in the talented students coming through programs such as EVDS.

A few students at the lecture, when asked, said they want to stay and work in Calgary due in large part to the changes the city has seen since Nenshi came to office almost seven years ago.

“I’ve been to many places in Canada and the United States, and Calgary is doing a wonderful job with urban planning,” says Hannah Allawi, a second-year PhD student in environmental design. “It’s very inspirational to hear Mayor Nenshi come here and speak about planning and design with us.”

Adds Srimal Ranasinghe, a Masters of Environmental Design student: “I used to live in Vancouver and everyone told me this was kind of a backwards place before I moved here in 2010. But after seven years, this is much more of a place I would like to live. I want to stay here and work once I graduate.”

Lecture series focuses on enriching student learning experience

Named for past University of Calgary Chancellor Joanne Cuthbertson, the Chancellor Cuthbertson Student Lecture Series is a speaker series held twice a year in the Faculty of Environmental Design and is focused on delivering engaged, informative discussions that enrich the student learning experience. In September, the series featured Tod Williams, a distinguished New York-based architect and partner in the firm Tod Williams Billie Tsien Architects.

“The Chancellor Cuthbertson Student Lectures engage our EVDS students in an informative discussion with leaders in the community and professions,” says Dean Nancy Pollock-Ellwand. “It provides a wonderful opportunity for not only our students, but for the faculty to connect directly with industry and have a dialogue about timely issues within the build environment, and how the design and planning professions can influence and effect change.”