Principal

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Gloria Venczel, BES, B.Arch., RPP, MCIP

Founding Principal/Urban Designer

Rethinking Cities + Thought Leadership

Published  Launch Project

Gloria Venczel's launch project as Principal/Urban Designer, Vibrant Places Inc. has been  recently published in the Canadian Institute of Planners' Magazine Plan Canada's Spring 2022 Edition on the "Future of Work", titled "Neighbourhood Pocket Parks As A-Political Catalysts for Socio-Economic Resilience" . The project itself, "The West Broadway BIAs' Waterloo + Trutch   First Nations + Multicultural Neighbourhood Pocket Parks for Social Resiliency" can be found at PlaceMaking -Private Sector | VibrantPlacesInc. 

Urban Design + City Planning Innovation

Gloria Venczel, BES., B.Arch., RPP, MCIP, Principal/Urban Designer is the founder of the nimble, multidisciplinary consultancy, Vibrant Places Inc.. She is an award winning professional and city building innovator, with 10 years experience as a former Intern Architect and over 15 years expertise in pedestrian-oriented urban design + planning, placemaking and public space programming for vibrancy, as a registered urban designer/planner. She has worked in the private, public and NGO sectors. 

Community Engagement Excellence

She has a proven  track record in community engagement + capacity building as a cutting edge multidisciplinary consultant, as a former municipal urban designer/development planner, and as the immediate past Thought Leader for the Architectural Institute of Canada (RAIC), Metro Vancouver's "Built City Speaker Series", a public/professional forum for dialogue, joint problem solving and capacity building on walkable, vibrant, affordable sustainable  cities.

Expertise in Socio-Economic Resilient Cities

As "commerce is the genesis of cities", using the people-scaled lenses of pedestrian oriented urban design + urban planning analysis, Gloria offers the municipal + private development sectors, as well as Business Improvement Areas (BIAs) strategic advice in  enhancing complete and economically viable communities, creating vibrant public spaces and streetscapes with a "sense of place". As local, small businesses provide the majority of vibrant public spaces, the public living rooms of the neighbourhood, the economic resiliency of small businesses is inextricably linked to social resiliency. With such design + small business analytical city-building tools, Gloria can help strengthen socio-economic resiliency at the neighbourhood scale, as well as seamlessly integrate new affordable housing through streetscape/building design, building/urban design guidelines and planning/city scale economic policy.

Thought Leadership in Vibrant Neighbourhoods 

As the life of a civil society plays out in the public spaces and streetscapes of neighbourhoods, where neighbours meet to build community  for "a sense of belonging",  such pedestrian-oriented urban design becomes increasingly important in strengthening the "social fabric of society" + "a sense of community"  in the built environment, addressing the socio-economic impacts of  the Climate Crisis, Covid (Post) and The Internet of Things.

Soft People Skills

She has recently completed the Project Management Certificate (2020) at Simon Fraser University.

 

Awards + Jury 

Royal Architectural Institute of Canada Volunteer Award 2013 

Sustainable Transportation Coalition 

Invited Urban Design Juror-2008 Spirit Square-Former CNV Staff Urban Designer 

BC Spirit Square Program, BC Ministry of Tourism, Sports and the Arts. BC Spirit Square Expert Urban Design Panel reviewed and scored Phases 1+2 of municipal applications from across BC, worth $5 million in matching funding. 

Honourable Mention -Comprehensive and Policy Plans PIBC-May 2003

Former Principal/Urban Designer, Urbanitas Consulting Inc.

"Visual Enhancements -New Westminster Zoning Bylaw."

Cross-Disciplinary Professional: Architectural + Urban Planning 

Former Intern Architect + Registered Professional Planner

Gloria had worked as an architectural intern for a decade in diverse cities, starting in Montreal, working on sensitive infills in Westmount, followed by work with cutting edge organic/secessionist architects in Pecs, Hungary during its cultural renewal. She was later immersed in Vancouver's architectural rise in sustainability. In a comprehensive green city pivot, she next embraced environmental + social resiliency at the city planning scale and registered as a planning professional at the Planning Institute of British Columbia (PIBC) + the Canadian Institute of Planners (CIP). Her launch project as a planning consultant (former Principal/Urban designer, Urbanitas Consulting Inc.)won a PIBC Award for "The Visually Enhanced Zoning Bylaw for the City of New Westminster".

Place Maker, City of North Vancouver,Past Urban Designer/Development Planner, City of North Vancouver

Civic Plaza, Past Staff Urban Designer,City of North Vancouver

Gloria was invited to interview at the City of North Vancouver and subsequently held the position of the City Urban Designer/Development Planner during its pivotal years of its civic district's renewal, where she oversaw the urban design  & developed the programming + public/gathering spaces for the new Civic Plaza. Her persuasive insights resulted in the final location of the new City Library ( with the first Lonsdale Energy Corp. distributed energy mini-plant below the parking). She also introduced a café on the new City Library's façade facing the new Civic  Plaza, to create a baseline "people buzz" vibrancy. The resulting closer proximity between the new City Library on the new Civic Plaza and the newly renovated City Hall entry helped create a more intense building edge programming, which attracted even more people + community activities. Gloria's direction to the outside consultants to provide a variety of community gathering spaces included two sided benches with backs, with one line of benches facing the new City Library and the other side of the benches facing the linear  water features, to accommodate senior residents and young families who would wait half an hour until library opening hour. She was also successful in introducing shade trees, presaging the heat impact from the climate crisis, to provide added human creature comforts. 

Vista Commons, Past Staff Urban Designer,City of North Vancouver

Gloria oversaw the urban design + public space programming of the Civic Plaza associated north facing Vista Commons park space, behind City Hall, resulting from the land exchange for the new City Library. As the smaller park space site would always be in shade, she suggested through hand sketches, a layered public space programming approach, techniques often used in popular pre-private automobile North American + European destinations. She was the staff representative on the Advisory Design Panel. 

99% Success Rate at Public Hearing, Past Staff Development Planner, City of North Vancouver

As a development planner, Gloria had exceptional insight into Council's and the  public's vision for the neighbourhoods,  and gave excellent guidance to applicant teams in her urban design + planning reviews, as she had a 99% rezoning success rate at Public Hearings on the files that she managed. She also updated a variety of zoning bylaws relating to architectural streetscapes.

NGO Innovator + Instructor

Past Founding Executive Director-Smart Growth Canada Network 

Gloria was the Founding Executive Director of the Smart Growth Canada Network, where she was chief editor for the nine visually enhanced e-course modules on Canadian cities' success stories on implemented smart growth principles, with funding from Natural Resources Canada (NRCan) + Real Estate Foundation Of British Columbia (REFBC). She assembled a Canada-wide Steering Committee made up of sustainability NGOs to help create momentum for addressing climate change and celebrate successes, as well as convening/moderating  a national sustainability NGO strategy conference with the then-Federal Minster of State for Infrastructure and Communities, Hon. John Godfrey, as  keynote speaker. 

Architectural + History of Art Instructor, former Royal Oak College, Vancouver, BC

Gloria was also a part time, sessional instructor in architecture and art history at the former Royal Oak College, downtown Vancouver.

Volunteer Governance + Mentorship

Gloria has developed an expertise in volunteer governance, having been a volunteer in numerous organizations, including leadership roles where she guided volunteers, very much aligning with Volunteer Canada's guidelines. Mentoring volunteers to achieve their goals is one of Gloria's hallmark soft skills. 

Education

+ Bachelor of Architecture, University of British Columbia (UBC) 1995

+ Bachelor of Environmental Studies, Faculty of Architectures, University of Manitoba (U of M) 1987

+ Building Envelope Design (Building Science), Building Construction,  British Columbia Institute of Technology (BCIT ) 

+ Arts Plastique (Fine Arts), Université du Québec à Montréal (UQAM) 1991

Certificates​​

+ Project Management Certificate, , Simon Fraser University, 2020

+ Urban Design Certificate, Simon Fraser University, 2005

+ Charrette Management + Facilitation Training, National Charrette Institute (US), 2011

+ Charrette Planner Certificate Training, National Charrette Institute (US), 2005   

Current Volunteer Roles

Planning Institute of BC

Chair,  Continuous Professional Learning Committee (CPL) , Planning Institute of BC + CPL Webinar Presenter

Mentor, PIBC Mentorship Program, to two Candidate Members, with an interest in pedestrian oriented urban design + city building excellence.

Phoenix Group Vancouver, BC 

Speakers' Committee + Presenter, Development Industry Professionals  Breakfast Club + Continuous  Learning Program.

Past Volunteer Roles

+ Thought Leader, immediate past, Royal Architectural Institute of Canada, MetroVan's "Built City Speaker Series".

+ Founding Board Member , past, Cascadia Chapter of the Congress of the New Urbanism (CNU-C)

+ Organizing Chair + Moderator, past, CNU-C, Vancouver Summit 2015, "The Business of Northwest New Urbanism +

   Bridging Sustainability &  Aboriginal Values."

+ Heritage Inventory, past, Heritage Montreal:  Protestant Church Inventory, downtown Montreal.

+ Intern Committee Member, past, Architectural Institute of BC,

+ Communications Committee, past, Architectural Institute of BC

+ Chair + Co-Founder, past ,Architects in the Community neighbourhood assistance charrette program, Architectural

   Institute of BC 

+ Policy Chair , past, BC Women's Liberal Commission (BCWLC-Federal), full policy cycle.

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