To architect John Brown, design is an inherently optimistic discipline. “You’re always imagining the world that could be,” he says. And the world Brown imagines is one where we address the biggest challenges of our time — climate change, social vulnerability and public health — through the way we build our cities. As dean of the school of architecture, planning and landscape at UCalgary, Brown was instrumental in creating the City Building Design Lab, a teaching and research facility in the site of the former Central Library downtown. He calls it a “living lab,” where students are connected to the community and can observe the way our built environment shapes our possibilities. Brown intends to train a generation of professionals who know how to collaborate with other disciplines, and understand how to create good infrastructure that allows us to live good lives. “It’s all about the city,” Brown says. “We make our cities and then our cities make us.”
This article appears in the January 2021 issue of Avenue Calgary.