Urban merger

Office for Urbanism, the Toronto-based planning and urban design leader, will join forces with national design firms Cohos Evamy and HBBH on Aug. 27 in a merger aimed at expanding multi-disciplinary thinking beyond buildings to include places and spaces, communities and cities.

Recognizing that client needs increasingly extend beyond property lines, this merger will allow the firms to move seamlessly from large urban scales to the smallest building details. It builds on a merger earlier this year between Cohos Evamy and Hotson Bakker Boniface Haden (HBBH) and continues a vision to create an innovative integrated professional practice collaborating across studios in Toronto, Calgary, Edmonton and Vancouver, focused on the achievement of excellence.

Says Office for Urbanism principal Jennifer Keesmaat, “A simple logic informs this next step for Office for Urbanism. Cohos Evamy and HBBH share a similar culture and work ethic as we do; our integration allows us to expand our services to clients and to innovate in our industry in new ways maintaining the freshness, agility, and quality that has characterized our work to date. I believe the collaborative model we are embracing will result in outcomes that will reshape the way we think about planning and urban design in the future. There is a vast opportunity for thought leadership here, and we want to be a part of that!” 

Office for Urbanism is known as one of Canada’s most creative urban planning and urban design firms — noted for such projects as the downtown plans for Regina, Lethbridge, Moncton, Iqaluit, and Halifax; as well as a range of site plans, master plans, campus plans and cultural plans, in cities across Canada and internationally. Cohos Evamy + HBBH are current designers for such high-profile projects as Toronto’s upcoming Bay Adelaide East office tower, Calgary’s International Airport expansion, the Royal Alberta Museum in Edmonton and UBC’s new Student Union Building. By coming together, they will help create a richer dialogue between buildings and cities. 

“Office for Urbanism is a brilliant young firm that is quickly making itself known across Canada with its outstanding work,” says Tom Sutherland, managing principal of Cohos Evamy and HBBH. “What brought us taogether was a desire to embrace the growing complexities of buildings, cities and the natural environment. All of these are intricately connected and we believe we’ll have a greater impact if we work together.  We’re trying to take inter-disciplinary thinking to a level that hasn’t been tried in this industry before.”  

In response to questions about next steps, Tom notes that, “We’re not trying to build Canada’s largest firm — but we certainly are trying to build one of its most innovative. Our next step will be announced shortly. It involves recognizing the founding firms in this development with a common banner: Office for Urbanism, HBBH and Cohos Evamy, as well as Mole White from our merger with them last year. With our firm approaching 500 people we want to underscore our shared commitment to building a national collaborative practice. Although it’s an important public step for us, what really counts is what we can do together for our clients, their communities, and the environment we share.”