Design Matters

Design Matters is a thought-provoking lecture series presented by the School of Architecture, Planning, and Landscape. Each year we bring to Calgary a range of designers, innovators, and thought leaders exploring the edge of design and city building.

Lectures take place from September to April, and feature provocative speakers examining issues in architecture, planning, and landscape architecture.

The series challenges students, practicing professionals, and the public to broaden their thinking on a myriad of issues related to design and city building. The pre-lecture reception is a great opportunity to meet and mingle with engage with other Calgarians who have a passion for design and the promise of building a great city.

2019/20 Design Matters Lecture Series

SAPL gratefully acknowledges support for the Design Matters lecture series from Calgary Downtown AssociationCanadian Wood CouncilCarson McCullochexp., SSRHCUniversity of Calgary Alumni, and Wood WORKS!.

The 2019/20 season of the SAPL Design Matters lectures series kicks off with Chip Sullivan (UC Berkeley) and Elizabeth Boults (UC Davis) on September 12, 2019 at 5pm. The Design Matters Lecture Series is $10 for the public and free to students.


Thursday September 12, 2019
Chip Sullivan and Elizabeth Boults 

On September 12, the Design Matters lecture series features landscape architecture Professors Chip Sullivan (UC Berkeley) and Elizabeth Boults (UC Davis) who will speak on (a history of) re-imagining landscapes as places including urban streets and leftover spaces.

Learn more about this past event >>

Kate Thompson

Wednesday October 2, 2019
Kate Thompson, Vice-President, Development, Calgary Municipal Land Corporation

Innovation and Revitalization of Calgary’s Rivers District: Find out about the work CMLC has done, their approach, and how that will transfer into all of their upcoming projects.

Jean Verville

Wednesday October 23, 2019
Jean Verville, Jean Verville Architecte, Montreal

Under the light of an open-mindedapproach, Jean Verville design process uses playful interactions to awaken the curiosity and inventiveness of everyone involved in a project. His creative game mediation aims to achieve a unique result driven by the singularity of the program, the particularities of the context and the diversity of skills and the personality of the team members. 

Housing Design Excellence - European Narratives

Thursday, October 30, 2019
Panel discussion: Housing Design Excellence - European Narratives

Meet the architects: The panel features presentations of award-winning social housing projects in Amsterdam, London and Paris. This event is part of The Future of Affordable Housing Conference.

Moderator: Dr. Sasha Tsenkova

Christelle Avenier, Avenier Cornejo Architects, Paris
Jeroen Atteveld, Heren 5 Architecten, Amsterdam 
Paul Karakusevic, Karakusevic Carson Architect, London

Walker McKinley

Wednesday November 6, 2019
Walker McKinley, mckinley burkart

Russell Acton

Wednesday, November 27, 2019
Russell Acton, Acton Ostry Architects, Vancouver

Just City

Wednesday January 15, 2020
Panel discussion: Just City

Moderator: Dr. Graham Livesey

Dustin Couzens, MoDA
Jessie Andjelic, SPECTACLE Bureau
Matt Knapik, O2 Planning + Design

Join us for a conversation about emerging urban trends in Calgary and beyond. This panel is part of a series of 15 conversations being held across the country in conjunction with the release of “Canadian Modern Architecture, 1967 to the Present” – a book that Dr. Graham Livesey co-edited with Canadian Architect editor Elsa Lam for Princeton Architectural Press (release date October 28, 2019). Books will be available for signing.

Hernan Diaz Alonso

Wednesday February 5, 2020
Hernan Diaz Alonso, Sci-Arc, Los Angeles

Olon Dotson

Tuesday March 10, 2020
Gillmor Lecturer: Olon Dotson, Ball State University, Indiana

Felecia Davis

Wednesday March 11, 2020
Taylor Lecturer: Felecia Davis, Penn State Stukeman School and SOFTLAB@PSU, Pennsylvania

Chris Cornelius

Thursday March 12, 2020
Somerville Lecturer: Chris Cornelius, studio:indigenous, Oneida Nation of Wisconsin

John Patkau

Wednesday April 1, 2020
John Patkau, Patkau Architects, Vancouver


We're always looking for energetic, intelligent people to activate events! 

We’re also looking for can-do types interested in working alongside helping student hosts John Baziuk (MArch’21) and Emily Kaing (MLA’21) with research for the inaugural 2019/20 Design Matters podcast season episodes.

Email to start the conversation.

Design Matters 19-20 poster (11x17) - Click on image to download PDF


A Dynamic Speaker Series

We seek out speakers from across North America and around the globe. We spark conversations about a variety of societal issues by engaging with innovative thinkers. We encourage people to recognize the important role that design plays in our daily lives. 

Past seasons:
Design Matters Lecture Series 2018/19
Design Matters Archive

Here are some featured Design Matters lecturers from past seasons:

Sir David Adjaye

April 2019

Sir David Adjaye

Sir Adjaye shared his creative process, as well as his professional and personal commitment to the social purpose of architecture and design of civic buildings that connect communities. Renowned for an eclectic material and colour palette, and a capacity to offer a rich civic experience, his buildings differ in form and style, yet are unified by their ability to generate new typologies and to reference a wide cultural discourse.

Martha Schwartz

November 2018

Martha Schwartz

Thank you to all of those who attended the lecture on November 29. As promised, here are links to her top three resource pages:




Sierra Bainbridge

January 2019

Sierra Bainbridge

Sierra Bainbridge, principal of MASS Design Group based in Boston, provided a lecture on "Architecture is never neutral; it either hurts or heals. How can we intentionally use architecture as a tool for healing?". Read about Sierra's lecture: Feb 5, 2019.

Anderson Anderson

September 2018

Anderson Anderson

Architecture in the Means of Production: Over the last 20-30 years, the practice of architecture has changed more fundamentally and more rapidly than at any time in the history of the world, with advances in technology revolutionizing the way we design buildings. What comes next, in the evolution of the architect?

Julie Larsen, APTUM

March 2019

Julie Larsen

Julie Larsen of APTUM and Syracuse University provided a lecture titled "Counterfactual Materiality: Using Computation, Fabrication, and Environment to Design Beyond Existing Materials". Read about the lecture in "Can a city afford bad architecture?".

Ma Yansong

April 2015

Ma Yansong

How can high-density development keep people connected to nature and social life? Ma Yansong, founder and principal of Beijing’s MAD Architects, is bringing nature and architecture together at an unprecedented scale. Read about Ma Yansong's lecture on April 30, 2015.


Design Matters is made possible through the partnership with generous sponsors who have shared aspirations. Sponsorship presents a wonderful opportunity for companies to not only heighten community profile, but also to engage with talented students who will be leaders and practitioners.

Looking forward to learning with you!