Archive for the ‘General Interest’ Category


There is two fundamental flaws with Chris Hume’s argument that Brampton does need a downtown. The first being that Hume’s discounts municipal identity over regional identity and the second being that a vibrant suburban Brampton downtown can encourage a higher, more sustainable density, living and working around the somewhat manufactured centre of the municipality. You can read Chris Hume’s article below at the Toronto Star.

Chris Hume’s: Downtown Brampton and other illusions
It is true that the GTA and Southern Ontario work as one economic entity driving the Canadian financial and manufacturing sectors. Each municipality is a cog in the machine that make it all work. Yet we cannot discount the importance that a vibrant, working downtown has on municipalities, especially the tenth biggest city in Canada. Identity is important for a municipaity, it gives the city purpose and drive. A bedroom community then has something to aspire to and work toward. People feel belonging which generates positive emotions and tangible productive results. Read any literature on identity and cities and we begin to understand the importance of belonging.

In some ways I felt that Hume’s was encouraging this car centric municipality with it big box stores, reliance on the automobile, and abundance of single family homes. As a Intern Architect, I cannot  condone these unsustainable developments. A downtown core that focuses and reduces the scale of the city back down to the pedestrian and encourages a commercial centre could allow for future development of transit alternatives, higher density condo living, and move away from annexation of the next subdivision just outsides Brampton’s borders.

I normally agree with much of what Hume’s writes, however not today, Brampton needs what Mississauga has begun to undertake. Mississauga has worked hard to create a downtown core, hopefully the Downtown21 plan will be realized reducing the current scale of the downtown to a more pedestrian friendly core. I can envision a future for Mississauga thanks to the Downtown 21 plan where a Light Rail option traverses the Mississauga core to GO Train stations alleviating traffic. Imagine having a commercial centre within a Brampton downtown alleviating some of the pollution caused by community to Toronto. Imagine a strong identity for Brampton that helps its influx of new immigrants integrate and feel Canadian, Bramptonian, and a part of a community. Imagine the future Mr. Hume, it will be better with a municipal downtown core… maybe they can have a hockey team too!


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So back in 2009-2010 as President of the Environmental Design Students’ Association, the Executive decided to make some architecture swag for our students. Unfortunately due to the controversial message on the clothing, we were unable to ever make our dream a reality. All we wanted to say was that Architecture students are skilled at building models. Some people took this out of context.

Special thanks goes to the designer of the swag and fellow graduate of the Architecture  program at the University of Calgary, Cameron Ashe.

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So after approaching and applying many of the well known firms in Toronto for an Intern Architect position, I wanted to share some of the lessons I have learned. I wish I had learned some of these lessons before I started applying, however I hope this advice will help my peers who are applying concurrently. Although the worst of the recession is over in Canada, some architecture firms are still struggling to recover. At the end of the day many firms are still affected by the lack of new loans for building projects, the lack of Federal infrastructure money, and other various factors. The AIA has actually indicated that the Architecture Billing Index has fallen below 50 which likely means that the industry will slow down even more. So people looking for a job must be strategic.

With all that said, I wanted to share any advice for us job seekers.

1. Decide what you want to do with your architecture degree and write down your goals and aspirations!

What are your short term goals, 5 year plan, and 10 year plan? Do you want to get registered? Do you want to be partner or own your own firm? What type of architecture do you want to do: civic, institutional, residential, commercial, retail,  urban planning, art, or competitions? Be specific, this is your chance to tell everyone what really excites you about architecture and what your are driven to accomplish.

2. Re-focus your resume and cover letter to emphasize your goals and aspirations in a way that shows a specialization in architecture!

If you want to do competitions, what experiences, skills, and projects have you done to make you the perfect candidate? Include a professional development section that captures all the conferences, competitions, certifications, publications, reports, and other preparation for your specialization in architecture. If you have previous work experience, include a selected projects list of work completed. Write a short cover letter that includes a couple sentences in a separate paragraph that focuses on your specialization.

3. Research what type/size of firm wants your experience!

Don’t apply for just any firm, do some research and figure out what types of firms need your expertise and leverage those expertise to get a job. For example, if you have a previous interior design degree and have some experience in the field, then I would suggest that you go after firms who do not have interior designers on staff. Those particular firms likely want to add those skills to their practice however cannot afford to hire an interior designer. It really is a give and take relationship between the firm and a potential candidate and in the end, the firm gets your expertise and you get in the door to start work as an Intern Architect. One caveat with this strategy is that you are clear with your intentions that you want to become an Architect and wish not to be pigeon holed.

4. Network and build relationships before you ask for a job!

Talk to your friends in the industry that you wish to enter, make new friends, go out for drinks, go out for lunch, and build relationships with people. Creating an intimate relationship with persons of interest in the industry will lead to timely advice and help in approaching the firms you are interested in. People within the field can offer insight to who is hiring and possibly offer an introduction. Remember the Iceberg metaphor when it comes to careers, most jobs are not advertised and just under the surface. That means we must network and build relationships to find the unadvertised ones. Only after have you built a relationship of trust and mutual respect with friends, partners, and principals should you ask for a job. You want that person to feel completely comfortable with you. This could take months, however it is a rewarding educational experience. And remember your please and thank you’s after every meeting.

5. Apply for the job!

After you have identified partners of firms looking to hire your specialization and have their contact information in hand, go after that job with a strong cover letter and resume. Consider emailing a portfolio sample or link your portfolio from a website, blog, or FTP. Follow-up with a call within a week. Ask for an interview or drinks. Even if there are no job opportunities, maintain that contact for the next quarter and keep in touch. Sometimes it can take months to develop a relationship to a point where it becomes a career offer.


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The Gym

Originally Written: November 6, 2006

Well it happened again. Every year I find myself at a low point, almost like a depression. It happens every year usually around this time too. I find that I look in the mirror and realize that I have a long way to go to reach all my goals. Goals being bigger shoulders, squaring my abs, better biceps, thicker legs, and a bigger chest. I look in the mirror contemplating the work I will need to do, the amount of healthy eating I will have to undertake, the more supplementation I will need to intake… and then it hits me. The depression, the feeling that I want to quite, I want to stop… just stop working out. Eat how I would like to and live my life. I get tired of working out, just like everyone else. I don’t feel like going to the gym I just want to stop because it’s time consuming, its cold outside, and the whole thing is superficial. The things I hate most at this point is doing shoulders because I never see results, abs because they are a chore, and legs because I just never can seem to fit in a leg day.

So what do you do in a low point? Well this is the time where you look yourself in the mirror and realize all the reasons why you workout. Why it makes you happy and more importantly the friends that help you to achieve your goals. And… to boost your energy levels some old-fashion supplementation of non-essential amino acids, vitamin mixes and testosterone precursors. Lets forget the superficial first of all. Yes I started working out because I was fat in high school and I couldn’t get a date. The more important reasons for working out is confidence, self-esteem, achieving goals, to feel good about yourself, and to be healthier.

I started going to the gym beginning of OAC (grade 13, old curriculum) when I was 18 after realizing that I was too fat and couldn’t get a date. I was a little obsessed I saw results after a month or so and this just boosted my self-esteem. I was more outgoing friendly and in a better mood. I completely gave up smoking, even casually at parties which I had a habit of doing in grade 11. I felt healthy, I ate healthy and I felt alert and awake. It was a great feeling. My initial goals of boosting my self-image worked. It did have its downside, by December I had a bigger ego, I thought I was the “shit” and did not have a problem showing my body which seemed to be a common theme in my first year of university. Luckily this year I hung up my crown, refusing to strip anymore. I guess it got old.

Now my reasons for working out have grown from these initial selfish reasons to a more goal oriented work-out. Yes, there are obvious benefits of being in shape especially with the opposite sex, but I do not go the gym for them anymore, I go for myself. I have goals that I want to achieve, some were listed above, others include beating Jeffrey in a sprint (even though I can smoke him long distance). This is why going to the gym makes me happy, I love seeing results and achieving goals. Still, I am in my low point, a depression, and this is not enough.

This point is where my friends come in. Their support and encouragement makes going to the gym so much more rewarding. As an aside, I have a secret for girls, in the gym is where guys gossip. It is a prime location to talk for hours about what is happening, rumors and all that jazz. It’s a way of passing time and making a workout fun. These days when I need the support, I won’t go workout unless I am going with someone else. They provide the support I need that my increased supplementation doesn’t provide. So right now, I would like to say thank you and to ask that you please keep pushing me!

Some highlights recently that have kept me working out are:
-Sunnie’s “best workout ever!” and all the other stories that he entertains me with.
-Mike and the Napoleon Bonaparte bet
-Lorenzo’s crazy aerobics workout
-Watching people take those certified trainers courses… you can’t learn to workout through books, you need to get into the gym!
-My discussion of what i am calling my arms… “The weapons of Mass Destruction”
-Watching the Toronto Argos hit on every girl in the gym. Sometimes I wonder if they even workout
-…The list will grow as i remember more!

My love for the gym, my dedication all began with the TV show Smallville, based on the Superman character. I was watching the show when I was 18 and realized I could look as good as he does, and I then realized that this would get me more girls. I started working out after this realization. My love for the gym has grown from this initial focus and reminding myself of the reasons why I workout help me get past this low point/depression.

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