Beautiful, liveable, sustainable, restorative. Picture a world-class “community model of sustainability” that sets the highest standards for master planning, design and development, practice and operations. Picture a mountaintop community designed, engineered, and operated specifically to benefit all of its inhabitants for future generations. British Columbia’s UniverCity in Metro Vancouver was conceived in the 1990s as a series of solutions for a fast-growing academic institution located in one of the most desirable places to live in the world. Today, UniverCity is a thriving, full-service community of over 5,000 people—well on its way to a population of 10,000 residents. Capitalizing on a multitude of experiences and challenges, Building Community: Defining, Designing, Developing UniverCity presents a thoughtful collection of key insights and takeaways about how to make a very big impact—with a very small footprint. UniverCity’s journey from concept to an award-winning community is described in detail in Building Community. In an engaging and sometimes personal story of community building, this easy-to-read, comprehensively illustrated book vividly describes the context in which the UniverCity community has evolved. And, perhaps most importantly, this book is a process-based guide for creating a beautiful, functional, and affordable pedestrian-oriented community, designed for people of all ages—one that is replicable, resilient, and will certainly be as widely admired in 2120 as it is today.


Praise for Building Community

“It is easier to talk about building communities than to build them. It is easier to plan what should be than to execute the plan. Too often in the urban world we live in, there are people who announce what others should do while sitting on the sidelines. These are times when we must all step up and discover new ways of doing things if we want to shape the future. That’s what happened on the top of Burnaby Mountain when the decision was made to create a neighborhood that responded to and celebrated its natural surroundings, that met the needs of a thriving community of learning and that became, through its actions, a laboratory of learning. The lessons of UniverCity are found in its streets and homes. Building Community is a guidebook to the new urban alchemy that combines environmental responsibility and a new standard of design – driven by human needs and responsive to economic realities. As a guide book, and not a rule book, it gives us true lessons to learn from and build on. As you read it, you will see new opportunities to create better neighborhoods and the better cities that are defined by them. The primary lesson is this: when someone tells you something can’t be done, it just takes leadership, vision, and relentless commitment to set the example that others will follow. Building Community is a celebration of all those things.”
Gordon Campbell, OBC, Former Canadian High Commissioner to the United Kingdom, former Premier of British Columbia, and former Mayor of Vancouver

“Building Community: Defining, Designing, Developing UniverCity presents a compelling story of a sustainable and liveable community built from the ground up. This accessible and well-illustrated book, gives an insider’s view of an innovative and experimental development process, identifying challenges and sharing principles learned: work with the environment, establish good governance, understand sustainability holistically, and communicate effectively to get financial, regulatory, community and development partners on side. It’s an engaging story and a practical and helpful guide for the planning professional.”
Christine Macy, Dean of Architecture and Planning, Dalhousie University

“UniverCity is both welcome and unexpected. Less than two decades old, it is a complete and carefully interconnected community, giving life and support to what used to be an isolated university campus. It’s a model of mid-rise urbanism in what used to be an out-of-the-way Burnaby mountaintop. It is, at once, a conservationist’s dream and a thoroughly modern, liveable community. And the story of its development is well worth the time to read. For planners, architects, and developers – for everybody who cares about cities and sustainability – Building Community is an accessible and entertaining guide. Grab this book; it’s about the future we all want.”
Anne McIlroy, FRAIC, FCIP, Principal of Brook McIlroy and Founder of the Ontario Professional Planning Institute’s Urban Design Working Group

“Building Community shows UniverCity to be more than just a cluster of residences: it is a living, growing community clearly designed with liveability in mind. For example, no resident is more than a 10-minute walk from the High Street – and there is a popular mix of well-designed high-rise, midrise and townhouse residences near the restaurants and shops… the principles used to build UniverCity should become ingrained in the minds of up-and-coming planners, architects, and community builders.”
Mark Roseland, Director and Professor at Arizona State University – School of Community Resources and Development and former Director of Simon Fraser University’s Centre for Sustainable Development and Professor of Planning in the School of Resource and Environmental Management.