Urban planner Andy Yan Takes Reins of SFU City Program

Program to provide data curation for upcoming Museum of Vancouver exhibition.

  • Feb. 19, 2016 9:00 a.m.

Andy Yan, senior urban planner at Bing Thom Architects, has been appointed acting director of Simon Fraser University’s City Program.

Yan’s appointment marks a return to his alma mater. He graduated from SFU with First Class Honours degrees in geography and political science before pursuing his Master’s in urban planning at the University of California. He says he is excited about building on the legacy of the City Program’s 23 year history and developing new initiatives.

“We’re thrilled to have Andy Yan return to SFU and guide the evolution of the award-winning City Program,” said Joanne Curry, Dean (pro-tem) Lifelong Learning. “His experience in projects worldwide and connection with Vancouver’s planning community will be a huge asset for SFU.”

Yan currently serves as a Vancouver City Planning Commissioner, an adjunct professor at UBC School of Community and Regional Planning and was recently a visiting scholar at New York University.

Yan was brought in while City Program Director Gordon Price, a former Vancouver City Councillor, is on leave. He has already hit the ground running. The program is currently busy providing data analysis and visualization for the Museum of Vancouver’s upcoming Urbanarium exhibition on Wednesday, January 20.

In the longer term, it is expected that the City Program will incorporate more professional courses and expand its reach and scope into other municipalities in Metro Vancouver. Yan says he plans to meet with instructors, community partners and supporters of the program to determine particular new areas of focus while building on the existing design and transportation education strengths of the program. One area he’s particularly excited about is the role of data and visualization in urban planning and decision making.

“Building on the City Program’s reputation on teaching excellence in urban design, sustainability and transportation, the field of big data and its visualization are becoming important tools for planning and design practice,” he said.

One idea Yan says he is considering is the implementation of a series of data cafés. Following the success of SFU Continuing Studies’ Philosopher’s cafes, the talks would connect the larger community and be a teaching exercise between the various practitioners and institutions that are working with data in the region.

“The cafés would be part of an outreach process to embark on a course that engages and expands the City Program’s professional development programs” said Yan. “We want reach new audiences and connect them to emerging fields and new innovations for the design and operations of livable and sustainable cities.”

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