We are lucky to have two great interns with us for the summer – Patrick Aouad and Jean Roe. In one day last week, they designed an infographic, spray painted furniture, did urban design research, engaged the public, and set up our new public space. They should have a busy summer. We asked Patrick and Jean a few questions:

Tell us a bit about yourselves:

Patrick: I have always been passionate about people and city building. My curiosity has brought me to explore cities and urbanism in a variety of work and life experiences. In high school, I found interest in studying people and communities, cultures, economies and interactions and how they relate to the built and natural environments. I then became passionate about design and how it emotionally and behaviourally impacts humans, which prompted me to complete a two-month internship in a design firm based in Nantes, France. During this internship, I was able to follow real-time development of retail design and construction projects in a completely different socioeconomic and geographic context. This successfully combined my wide range of interests while working in the recipient city of the European Green Capital Award in 2013. I then began my undergraduate studies in urban planning at Concordia University, where I examined for my honours thesis how citizen involvement and tactical urbanism have reshaped the former working-class neighbourhood of Saint-Henri in Montréal. In my final year, I was involved in the Urban Planning Association as Vice President of Social Affairs where I coordinated the team in assembling five panelists from entirely different practices for the “Diversity in Planning” roundtable and networking event, which students found to be quite eye-opening. My never-ending curiosity then brought me to Calgary, where I am pursuing graduate studies in the Faculty of Environmental Design at the University of Calgary, and now proudly working with Intelligent Futures as an intern and member of the League of Engagement.

Jean: Throughout the last four years of my Urban Studies degree (with a minor in business) at the University of Calgary, I have learned much about urbanism and entrepreneurialism. In 2015, I moved across the pond for a year to study at the University of Amsterdam, where, in the classroom, I learned about the (very impressive) Dutch way of city-building. Outside class, while biking along canals, I experienced the joys of lively public spaces and a dominant cycling culture. Having worked with sustainability focussed companies, such as REAP Business Association, U of C’s Office of Sustainability, and Sustainable Amsterdam, I have gained knowledge and understanding about the importance of creating and appreciating sustainable businesses, campuses and neighbourhoods.

Why were you interested in working at Intelligent Futures?

Patrick: What brought me to Intelligent Futures was their successful recipe in combining sustainability, engagement, design, strategy and urbanism. I joined IF after completing my thesis on participatory planning and saw their award-winning work and people-centric approach as a great extension to my quest.

Jean: As a born, raised and very engaged Calgarian, I’ve always been interested in working somewhere that enhances the lives of people in this city (and beyond) in meaningful and original ways. And I think that’s what drew me to Intelligent Futures. The significant intersection that IF finds themselves in — between sustainability, urbanism and engagement — is an important place to be. Plus, there’s something very special about working with really great people.

What aspects of city-building are you most interested in?

Patrick: While I am still exploring my plethora of city-related interests, I find most of my drive in design, engagement and community economic development, as they stimulate my thought process and make me think of why and how things work, and how to improve or challenge the status quo.

Jean: What fascinates me about city-building is understanding, acknowledging, and building all sorts of connections. That is, fostering relationships between individuals but also understanding connections on a larger scale — how is urban agriculture related to well-designed public space? How do transportation options relate to social equality? How can building neighbourly communities affect individual mental health and the global economy? How can we, as planners, citizens and professionals, understand these connections to create happier and more resilient cities?

What are some key lessons learned in your first few weeks at IF?

Patrick: One of the key lessons I’ve learned in my first few weeks at IF are how a collaborative work environment, just like a collaborative planning process, leads to increased productivity, innovative and outstanding end products. I’ve also learned that strategy is the most important aspect of any project, as it guides the vision and drives the entire design and decision-making process.

Jean: The key lessons so far have been:

1. Community engagement, when done properly, can be really fun (and effective).

2. IF’s projects are adaptable, creative and strategic because they are process-oriented, versus product-oriented.

3. There are a lot of acronyms in urban planning.

4. Never underestimate the power of the post-it note. 

5. My bike ride to work (downhill) is much quicker than my ride home.