My name is Warren Price. I’m a partner and urban designer with a firm called Urban Strategies here in Toronto. Urban Strategies is an urban design and planning firm. I like to describe what we do as occupying the space between placemaking, development, and policy.
We are a genuine consultancy, meaning we don’t build. Our clients are in the development industry, governments, agencies, and institutions, and we maintain a balance of private and public sector work. The focus of my practice is campus master planning. I work throughout North America.
What distinguishes our master plans is that they’re not prescriptive or carved-in-stone blueprints. They support dialogue, project formation, and decision-making. They’re much more like framework and are about
strategic decisions in asset management.
Our work is also grounded in extensive consultation, reflecting our client’s needs, aspirations, and vision. As campus planners and urban designers, our background allows us to respond to city-building initiatives, such as transit investment, neighborhood renewal, and economic development.
Finally, our work is very interested in the relationship between town and gown, reflecting trends of increased diversity, the importance of partnerships, the need to provide housing, more services and amenities, and ultimately, we help institutions remain competitive.
How do we mitigate risk through placemaking and create a setting that positions housing and attracts immigration? A plan that puts forward a robust public realm and a strong sense of place that connects uses and positions amenities that can be used by the institution and others who are part of partnerships and the broader community.
The idea of a traditional campus, place, or community is also morphing. The institutions often create multiple environments to meet various ends. This helps them respond to the types of projects we’ve been discussing.
One institution that I find fascinating and some of you may be familiar with is Simon Fraser University, and they’ve been doing great work. They’re focusing on development in Surrey City Centre, where much of Vancouver’s demographic growth is now south of the Fraser River. They are building a campus, leveraging real estate, and redeveloping a shopping mall into one of the most remarkable campuses. Bing Tom Architects did it.
So the point is, if you talk about broadening the kinds of things we’re looking at, the models are also shifting. The physical places and experiences also evolve at the same time.
Warren Price of Toronto-based Urban Strategies, Inc was a featured speaker at SHURE GTA & Eastern Canada on Nov 15, 2023.