Stephen Popovich

Founder and CEO, Popovich Associates
Board of Directors, Earth Charter Canada
Member British Columbia Society of Landscape Architects
Member Ontario Association of Landscape Architects
Member Manitoba Association of Landscape Architects
Member Canadian Society of Landscape Architects
Member International Living Future Institute
Member EcoDistricts
Speaker at the American Society of Landscape Architects
Recipient of Numerous Urban Design Awards

Our lives are bound in the forces of nature. Far from being opposed and conquered, these forces must be treated as allies, whose ways must be understood, and whose counsel must be respected. Throughout my professional career of almost 4 decades, I have championed holistic solutions through an intersectional lens. Creating vibrant communities. Designing resilient ecologies. Bringing life to space.

I grew up spending summers between my grandparent’s farm and the forests and lakes of northern Ontario. Here, I developed an understanding of the relationship between man and the natural systems that supported them. As an adolescent, I found interest in the relationships between natural systems and the city, seeking to understand the workings of cities and the interdependence of ecological, social and economic systems.

The desire to understand the confluence of these issues and how they affected each other lead me to study Landscape Architecture at the University of Toronto. Inspired by Ian McHarg and his work examining our relationship to the natural environment, I went on to pursue the study of the urban realm and the natural and built environments that define them.

Active within the formal disciplines of Urban Design, Community and Open Space Planning, I am an Urban Strategist who works at the intersection of policy, culture, economics, architecture, urban design, ecologies, social change and community planning. Since 1978, I have been founding new paradigms to build vibrant, livable and resilient communities. Consensus building amongst diverse stakeholder groups is a passion of mine that has resulted in an exemplary portfolio of successful works. I have lead the visioning, policy direction and programming for numerous district and community initiatives within Canada and abroad.

Extending the boundaries of community planning, urban and ecological design, my inclusive approach integrates functional program development, project vision and strategy and sustainable design as an integrated design process. I define sustainability on six criteria:

Ecological. A responsible response to preserve, protect and enhance the ecosystem we work within
Cultural. Identify and respond to specific needs of the ultimate user
Economic. Ensure each assignment is viable
Communal. Vital, sustained connection to individuals and community
Personal. Inclusive well being
Social. A philosophy of cooperation

The design process unfolds as a synthesis of site characteristics, program and social requirements; we strive to evoke emotion, innovation and creative thinking to arrive at solutions that define environments both integral to their surroundings and exceptional in their visual and spatial qualities.

We strive to learn from each completed assignment, and to bring these learned processes forward to each new project, infusing refined perspectives, new ideas, thoughts, approaches, attitudes and methodologies for better understanding and insight of the project, and its possibilities.

We are compelled to solve large challenges by responding, amassing responses in our team and skills, to take action and defy history.
We must understand the intellectual, social, physiological, and cultural nuances of every assignment we undertake.
We have a critical role to play to ensure these values are seen as assets.
We must create environments for life that integrate social, ecological, cultural, economic values.
The time has come for the traditional and aesthetic based design approach to be replaced with holistic model that incorporates comprehensive value and meaning, with urgency.
Resiliency and social justice are the new values of this century. We integrate them into everything we do, every relationship we touch.

Throughout my continual quest to contribute to a vision of vibrant, livable and resilient cities, I have sought like-minded partners who share this ambition.

Immediately upon my introduction to Gerben and Walas, it was apparent we shared these values and vision. I embraced Walas as the ideal partner to achieve these high aspirations. Together, we identify and develop strategic responses to global challenges through local interventions.

We share our knowledge and passion to seek out unique opportunities where we can make positive change and at a scale that was measurable and replicable.