Today’s MUP update is from Mike A., one of the many students in our program from BC (though he’d like to point out that he is the only one who was born and raised on Vancouver island). He’s got a background in human geography and an interest in urban politics. This summer he’s in Montreal working on a few different projects related to urban design and placemaking.
I have two summer internships on the go. The first one is a research assistantship for our urban design prof, Nik Luka. The SSHRC-funded project is related to digitally-mediated local deliberative democracy. In other words, identifying methods for city officials to utilize new technologies to inform, consult, and actively deliberate with citizens. Currently, we are conducting background research in preparation for a number of urban design studios that will take place Spring 2013. The interesting part about my research is its location: the Outremont Yards (for those who don’t know, that is the MUPpets Studio 1 site). It is also great to learn about all the creative methods of public consultation that have been done in the past. For instance, one city used the video game Second Life to aid citizens in visualizing an upcoming project.
My second internship is with the consulting firm LiveWorkLearnPlay. LWLP is a firm that specializes in large-scale, mixed-use real estate developments and neighbourhoods. Their four core areas of focus are city revitalizations & urban villages; college towns & university districts; New Urbanist town centres; and destination recreational villages & resort towns. Currently, I am working on a Marina District improvement project in Florida. My task is a comparative market analysis: getting a sense of the economic climate by analyzing retail centres and mixed-use neighbourhoods in the region. I honestly never thought I would be interested in economic planning, but the conversations I get to have with local and regional planners in the area are fascinating. It is incredibly interesting to research how neighbourhoods and downtowns distinguish themselves within a regional market.