Exciting news! AZURE is thrilled to announce some of our confirmed speakers for the Human/Nature conference, taking place October 24 and 25 in Toronto. Human/Nature will bring together designers, architects, urbanists, civic leaders and more for two days of conversations about how we can work together to collectively mitigate climate change through proven design solutions. The event will take place at George Brown’s Waterfront Campus and include keynotes, panels, workshops – and field trips!

We are also excited to present our new website: conference.azuremagazine.com, which will be continuously updated as new speakers are confirmed.

For now, here are some highlights from our roster:

10 Featured Speakers to Check Out at Human/Nature

Dr. Kongjian Yu, Founder of Turenscape

Kongjian Yu is the landscape architect commonly credited with the innovation of the “Sponge City” concept, a resiliency practice that he embraces through the many award-winning projects completed by his Beijing-based firm, Turenscape. His research has been adopted by the Chinese government as a guiding theory for nationwide ecological protection and restoration campaigns. 

Named one of The 10 Most Innovative Architecture Companies (by Fast Company, 2021), Turenscape is a winner of multiple AZ Awards, including for Fish Tail Park in Nanchang City, Quzhou Luming Park, and Tongnan Dafosi Wetland Park – all restorative landscape designs that transform formerly industrial areas into thriving green spaces for all of the public to enjoy.

10 Featured Speakers to Check Out at Human/Nature

Michael Sørensen, Partner and Design Director at Henning Larsen

Michael Sørensen is a Partner and Design Director at Henning Larsen and co-leads the firm’s U.S. design studio in New York City. With 20 years of experience leading projects from Henning Larsen’s offices in Copenhagen and New York City, Sørensen has been at the helm of several award-winning projects throughout Scandinavia, Europe and North America. He oversees the design process of complex projects across the United States and Canada – including large-scale masterplans and urban designs, built-to-suit flagship offices, mixed-use projects and higher education facilities – navigating stakeholder groups and spearheading project teams to prioritize high design ambitions within the parameters of scheduling constraints and budgets.

Recent award-winning projects include the Downsview Framework Plan in Toronto, University of Cincinnati’s College of Business, and the Minneapolis Public Service Building. Bringing Henning Larsen’s DNA to life, Sørensen leads co-creative design processes defined by research and dialogue to drive innovative, inspiring spaces and places for the communities they serve. 

10 Featured Speakers to Check Out at Human/Nature

Rasmus Astrup, Senior Partner and Design Director at SLA 

As Partner and Design Principal at the renowned Danish nature-based design studio SLA, Rasmus Astrup spearheads the studio’s largest and most complex international projects. He is a leading specialist in nature-based design, sustainable landscape architecture, and integrated climate adaptation and has led SLA’s most forward-looking and award-winning projects. His perpetual emphasis on creating the best possible places for life – all life – is continuously manifested through inspiring and green urban spaces with living ecosystems that help create robust cities that put all things living – people, animals, and plants – first. 

Astrup is the recipient of several major international honours, among them the 2021 World Landscape of the Year Award. Not only is he a design innovator, Astrup is also an articulate communicator – and has for more than a decade been a sought-after lecturer and debater at forums world-wide. 

10 Featured Speakers to Check Out at Human/Nature

Janna Levitt, Co-Founder at LGA Architectural Partners

Janna Levitt co-founded LGA Architectural Partners, believing buildings can serve as connectors between culture and people. Her projects often implement transformative cultural and environmental agendas developed with diverse collaborators. As Partner-in-Charge, she has led projects throughout Ontario including Laurentian University McEwen School of Architecture, the University of Waterloo School of Architecture, the MabelleArts Park Pavilion, and the Visitors Centre Pavilion at Promontory Park, by the Don River in Toronto, Kitchener’s Central Public Library, and the Kiln Building Redevelopment at Evergreen Brick Works. Levitt also leads the firm’s research projects, currently focusing on rehousing Toronto’s YellowBelt with the University of Toronto’s Daniels School of Architecture.

10 Featured Speakers to Check Out at Human/Nature

Joey Giaimo, Founding Principal at Giaimo Architects

Joey Giaimo founded Giaimo in 2015 with an approach to architecture that sources the value and characteristics of existing buildings and spaces. With over 25 years of experience in architecture and heritage conservation across Canada, he has led numerous adaptive reuse, restoration and retrofit projects that have been honoured with the Lieutenant Governor’s Ontario Heritage Award for Excellence in Conservation, the Canadian Architect Awards of Excellence, and Canadian Association of Heritage Professionals Awards. For over seven years, he has been an instructor in the Department of Architectural Science at Toronto Metropolitan University, where he leads the heritage conservation course and studios on adaptive reuse. 

10 Featured Speakers to Check Out at Human/Nature

Kelty Miyoshi McKinnon, Partner at PFS Studio

Miyoshi McKinnon is a landscape architect and Partner at PFS Studio, a Vancouver and Toronto–based landscape architecture, urban design, and planning firm. Specializing in public projects that merge cultural, social, ecological, and climatic concerns, she is committed to the creation of rich, innovative and meaningful public spaces that are much-loved by their communities. Kelty’s projects span from highly urban block sized cultural precincts, mixed use developments, streetscapes, and public plazas to naturalized parks and waterfront design. Some of her current projects include the West End Waterfront Vision Plan, Chinatown Memorial Plaza, Jericho Lands, and the Vancouver Art Gallery in Vancouver; as well as several plazas, streetscapes and parks in Seattle.

10 Featured Speakers to Check Out at Human/Nature

Lindsey Wikstrom, Founding Partner at Mattaforma

Architect Lindsey Wikstrom’s forward-thinking work weaves together ideas of care, ecosystems and the positive influence that design can have in society. Intertwined with her built work, Lindsey speaks publicly, publishes and exhibits her research. In 2023, she published her book Designing the Forest and Other Mass Timber Futures (Routledge 2023), with a foreword by Kenneth Frampton. She was also the organizer and moderator of Material Worlds, a speaker series hosted by MoMA’s Emilio Ambasz Institute that invited experts from around the world to envision the future of the most ubiquitous materials on earth. Most recently, the research was exhibited at The New York Skyscraper Museum and University of Texas at Austin. Wikstrom has taught at Columbia GSAPP, Cornell AAP, Syracuse University, and Yale School of Architecture. She holds an M.Arch from Columbia University, where she was awarded the Charles McKim Prize, Visualization Award, and Avery 6 Award. She is also the recipient of the SOM Prize.

10 Featured Speakers to Check Out at Human/Nature

Pat Hanson, Founding Principal at GH3*

Under Pat Hanson’s leadership, gh3* has established a reputation for design integrity across a range of typologies and through all scales of practice. Exemplary projects include the internationally-recognized Kathleen Andrews Transit Garage in Edmonton, Toronto’s Storm Water Facility in the new west Don Lands, and the Boathouse Studio on Stony Lake, Ontario.

Hanson is an expert communicator of compelling design visions that are both environmentally and socially sustainable. She is a strong and insightful advocate for the potential for built form to rise above the merely functional, to integrate the pragmatic with the poetic, and to achieve an aesthetic impact that brings pleasure to everyday uses. For over 30 years, she has led clients and interdisciplinary design teams through complex programs, negotiating extensive public consultation processes to achieve internationally-recognized built work.

She currently serves on the Waterfront Toronto and University of Toronto Design Review Panels and is a past senior advisor for Building Equality in Architecture Toronto (BEAT). She has lectured on the work of gh3* in Europe and North America, and has taught at University of Toronto and University of Waterloo. 

10 Featured Speakers to Check Out at Human/Nature

Sheila Boudreau, Principal Landscape Architect + Planner at SpruceLab

Sheila Boudreau is Principal Landscape Architect + Planner at SpruceLab, an Indigenous and women-owned and operated planning and landscape architecture firm with offices in Toronto, Hamilton, and Edmonton. She has over three decades of experience in both the private and public sectors following degrees in Landscape Architecture and Fine Art (University of Guelph), and a Master of Arts in Planning (University of Waterloo). 

Boudreau established SpruceLab in 2020 to be collaborative and nature-based with a community focus. Its intention is to prioritize Indigenous voices where possible – to honour her Mi’kmaq ancestors in this work. She founded Earth Tending, an Indigenous paid training program focused on green infrastructure, as well as Dbaajmowin, an Indigenous-led artists collective (both supported by the SpruceLab team). She belongs to numerous professional organizations, including the Canadian Society of Landscape Architects, and is a member of the 2023/24 Task Force on Housing and Climate (supported by Smart Prosperity Institute), and was a co-lead for Climate Risk Initiative’s net-zero training module on governance for Engineers Canada. She is currently writing a book on the importance of nature for cities, for OwlKids press.

10 Featured Speakers to Check Out at Human/Nature

Susan Carruth, Partner at 3XN

Susan Jayne Carruth is a partner at Copenhagen-based architecture firm 3XN, and the Head of Operations for the firm’s research arm, GXN. 3XN/GXN is renowned for projects that completely rethink the possibilities of sustainable architecture, in Denmark and beyond. 

An architect and researcher, Carruth has over 17 years of experience across practice and academia. Prior to joining 3XN/GXN in 2018, she was Head of Research and Sustainable Development for White Architects in Denmark. Her leadership at GXN spans consultancy and research, including the strategic development of the behavioural design research cluster, sustainability and innovation consultancy, and project managing international architectural projects. She also heads up the firm’s internationally renowned behavioural design cluster.


10 Featured Speakers to Check Out at Human/Nature 10 Featured Speakers to Check Out at Human/Nature


10 Featured Speakers to Check Out at Human/Nature 10 Featured Speakers to Check Out at Human/Nature 10 Featured Speakers to Check Out at Human/Nature


10 Featured Speakers to Check Out at Human/Nature 10 Featured Speakers to Check Out at Human/Nature 10 Featured Speakers to Check Out at Human/Nature 10 Featured Speakers to Check Out at Human/Nature

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