Senior Urban Designer / Planner III (City Design Studio Lead) (Vancouver, British Columbia (BC), Canada)

Requisition ID: 26973 


Located on the traditional, ancestral and unceded lands of the xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam), Sḵwx̱wú7mesh (Squamish), and səlilwətaɬ (Tsleil-Waututh), Vancouver has a commitment to becoming a City of Reconciliation. Vancouver consistently ranks as one of the world’s most liveable cities and is working towards being the greenest city in the world. Named among Canada’s Top 100 Employers, BC’s Top Employers, and Canada’s Greenest Employers, the City of Vancouver seeks colleagues who can help shape and embody our core commitments to sustainability, decolonization, equity and outstanding quality of life for all residents.

Consider joining our committed team of staff and being part of an innovative, inclusive and rewarding workplace.

Main Purpose and Function

This is a RFT Senior Urban Designer / Planner III position that will lead the City Design Studio.  The City Design Studio is a multi-disciplinary urban design group within the Department of Planning, Urban Design and Sustainability (PDS) that provides direction, guidance and support in the physical design of Vancouver’s built environments.

This is an advanced and complex professional urban design position that will be responsible for leading and directing the work of the Studio team of urban designers, architects, landscape architects, and planners.  The City Design Studio works as a team across a full range of scales of building and neighbourhood typologies, public realm plans, and multi-disciplinary urban design projects and programs from major projects and area plans to the city scale.  The Studio works collaboratively and integrally with many departments and divisions within the City, Engineering Services, and the Park Board, and liaises with external agencies and proponents.  

The Senior Urban Designer will lead, coordinate, and develop urban design frameworks and structure, spatial, and public realm plans; support PDS Current Planning in implementation; and plan and provide support to PDS programs such as the Vancouver Plan, Complete and Connected Neighbourhoods, Broadway Plan, the Climate Emergency Response, and Major Project sites.   The position will lead the Studio in built form and public realm studies and projects, as well as on-going research and innovation related to the built environment.  The successful applicant will contribute to the development, analysis, visualization and evaluation of a structure plan and future city scenarios as part of the Vancouver Plan.  The Senior Urban Designer will guide the City Design Studio in developing and applying data analytic tools and evaluation of urban design alternatives across a holistic spectrum of indicators and metrics.

The successful candidate will be a creator, facilitator and convener of urban design work that integrates and advances a sociable, livable, affordable, and sustainable Vancouver.  The Senior Urban Designer will demonstrate exceptional ability to communicate visually, verbally, and in the written word; to lead and work collaboratively across divisions within PDS and with other departments; and to synthesize the input of many and varied perspectives and disciplines.

Specific Duties and Responsibilities

  • Lead, mentor, and guide the City Design Studio team
  • Manage the work program, staffing and supporting materials and technology requirements of the City Design Studio.
  • Conceptualize, develop, test and refine structure plan concepts, urban design approaches and city-wide systems plans, including exploration/testing of building and public realm/right-of-way typologies at an area level.
  • Document and present complex urban design themes and analysis, including: illustrative work, report writing, meeting facilitation, and presentations to other staff, management, Council and stakeholders.
  • Provide professional urban design input and advice for the Vancouver Plan, Complete Connected Neighbourhoods, selected Major Projects and area plans, as well as expertise on special projects involving physical city-building issues or projects of particular public interest including the Broadway Plan and the Climate Emergency Response.
  • Work collaboratively and in an integrated way with members of the Vancouver Plan, the City Design Studio, the Planning, Urban Design and Sustainability Department, Engineering, the Parks Board, and other City Departments.
  • Advance research in multiple facets of urban design, including the development of resilient neighbourhood design performance metrics and indicators and analytical framework.  
  • Develop and build partnerships to integrate with the research and work of external agencies such as UBC.
  • Design, support and facilitate public consultations and materials including community events, workshops and meetings (including weekday evenings and weekends).


Education and Experience:

  • A Post-Secondary degree in Planning, Urban Design, Architecture, or Landscape Architecture
  • Membership or eligibility for membership in the Planning Institute of British Columbia.
  • Extensive professional experience in urban design including experience in the private sector
  • Experience working in a design capacity, from concept through to detailed design, on a range of project scales.
  • Extensive experience integrating various layers of urban design (including built form, land use, open space, transportation, infrastructure and public life) and working across scales from building typologies, public places and spaces, to blocks, precincts, major project sites, area plans, neighbourhood and city-wide frameworks.
  • Extensive experience integrating and balancing elements and principles of sociability, livability, affordability and sustainability in urban design. 
  • Experience working with Indigenous communities, diverse ethnic and socio-economic communities, and reflecting cultural values and design principles in design is an asset.

Knowledge, Skills and Abilities:

  • Exceptional interpersonal, public engagement and communications skills while engaging with communities, external agencies, other City staff, consultant teams and the public;
  • Exceptional ability to lead and work collaboratively; to respectfully reflect and synthesize the input of many and varied perspectives and disciplines; and to build strong working relationships
  • Exceptional ability to communicate visually, verbally, and in the written word; to ‘tell the story’ in a compelling way with strong graphic visualization and representation capabilities in a variety of mediums.
  • Ability to provide review, advice and comment on urban design and architecture proposals, concepts, and applications in a respectful and thoughtful manner. 
  • Demonstrated design ability through a range of scales.
  • Demonstrated experience in conceptualizing, modeling, analyzing and visualizing urban design concepts, public realm and building typologies.
  • Demonstrated knowledge and interest in human centred design to support sociability, well-being, and community resilience from the building to the area scale. 
  • Demonstrated knowledge and understanding of sustainable elements and practices in public realm and building typologies including green infrastructure, biodiversity, blue-green systems, and low-carbon construction.
  • Understanding of economics relevant to building typologies, tenures, land, development, construction, and impact on affordability.
  • Superior 3D modelling and data analytic skills particularly at the district scale.
  • Considerable knowledge of public consultation, land use issues, site planning, urban design, transportation, and sustainable design practices.
  • Considerable skill in collaborative decision making, negotiation, conflict resolution, and interest-based problem solving.
  • Ability to lead and collaborate on project teams and be accountable for developing work plans and completing deliverables on time in a high pressure environment.
  • Ability to supervise City Design Studio staff and others as assigned to various projects, and to direct the work of consultants engaged on planning projects.
  • Ability to develop planning policies, regulations and guidelines.
  • Full working knowledge of GIS, AutoCAD, Sketchup, and the Adobe Creative Suite and experience in Rhino and Grasshopper is an asset.

Business Unit/Department: Planning, Urban Design & Sustainability (1275) 

Affiliation: CUPE 15 Non Pks 

Employment Type: Regular Full Time 

Position Start Date: April, 2021 

Salary Information: Pay Grade GR-034: $55.35 to $65.47 per hour

Application Close: March 19, 2021

At the City of Vancouver, we are committed to recruiting a diverse workforce that represents the community we so proudly serve. Indigenous applicants, people of colour, all genders, LGBT2Q+ and persons with disabilities are encouraged to apply.  Accommodations will be provided upon request during the selection process. Learn more about our commitment to diversity and inclusion

To be considered for this exciting and impactful career opportunity with a generous benefits package, please apply on our careers site.

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