Expert opinions

Through its keynote speaker series, along with a full roster of panels and seminars, IIDEX/NeoCon Canada — the country’s most comprehensive exposition and conference for the design, construction and management of the built environment — gathers together a good number of experts in various fields.

This year’s keynote speakers come from Paris; Bethesda, Maryland; New York City; and Oslo.

Arik Levy (Design) is best known for his furniture designs for global companies and for installations and limited editions. Nevertheless, he insists, “The world is about people, not tables and chairs.” Levy is currently working in Paris with a 20-strong team of designers and graphic artists at L design. In his keynote, he will offer personal experiences from his unique perspective working in cross-linguistic, multidisciplinary milieus.

Jeremy Rifkin (Environment), president of the Maryland-based Foundation of Economic Trends, is known for his provocative economic theories. Humanity, in his view, is poised to make a definitive shift away from its carbon-based eopolitical reality toward a new paradigm of sustainability, In his keynote, Rifkin will lay out his vision of the Third Industrial Revolution.

Avi Flombaum (Innovation) is the founder and chief product officer of New York–based Designer Pages, the social media platform that connects people in the fields of architecture and design. In his keynote, Flombaum will discuss how the Internet is changing the way we work, communicate and promote design; he will also offer suggestions for websites that will make a job and company more efficient and productive.

Craig Dykers (Architecture) is the co-founder and senior partner of Norway’s Snhetta, the architecture, landscape and interior design firm with offices in Oslo and New York. Highly acclaimed projects include the Norwegian Opera and Ballet in Oslo and the Library of Alexandria in Egypt. In his keynote, Dykers will show how cultural projects in the public realm are defined not merely by their program or facade, but also by the people who use them.

IIDEX panel subjects run the gamut from the aging face of the workplace to the state of the interior design profession.

One of the most intriguing panels is For Beauty’s Sake: Reclaiming Design’s Greatest Power — an exploration of the economic impact to beautiful design and its defining role in 21st-century innovation. It brings together an all-star, cross-disciplinary group of Canadian experts: David Dixon of David Dixon Fashion; Arlene Gould, strategic director of the Design Industry Advisory Committee; Siamak Hariri of Hariri Pontirini Architects; Glenn Pushelberg of Yabu Pushelberg; Janet Rosenberg of Janet Rosenberg + Associates; and Paul Rowan, co-founder and VP of Umbra.

The Green Building Festival, an essential part of IIDEX, offers an outstanding series of seminars.

A highlight is A River in the Desert: Saudi Arabia’s Wadi Hanifah Restoration Project with Ajon Moriyama and George Stockton. Moriyama is a managing partner at Moriyama & Teshima Architects, which is leading the master plan and implementation of the ground-breaking naturalization and bioremediation of a 120-km stretch of heritage river running through the heart of Riyadh; Stockton heads the firm’s landscape group. Together they will show how both the river and related ecology have been restored, creating a thriving system of parks and naturalized green spaces for the use and enjoyment of the people of Riyadh.

Another highlight is Masdar Development: Climate Engineering for a Carbon-neutral City with Thomas Auer. Auer is the managing director and partner of Transsolar, a climate-engineering firm with offices in Stuttgart, Munich and New York. He has worked on notable projects around the world, including the Winnipeg office tower for Manitoba Hydro, considered one of the most energy-efficient high-rise buildings in North America. He will discuss that building, along with the carbon-neutral city of Masdar, and Abu Dhabi.

Held at the Direct Energy Centre, Exhibition Place, the IIDEX/NeoCon expo runs Sept. 23 and 24, while the conference runs from Sept. 22 to 25. CI