Citymakers is a new This City Life column featuring people who do great things for Vancouver or other cities - whether it is through their love of art, music, photography, public space, nature or any form of creative expression or city issue. They don’t get  a lot of recognition for what they do. And, they often do it in their spare time, for free or little money, off the side of their desk, mostly while working full-time, 9-5 jobs. But, that is not an issue to them. They pursue their art or passion because they love and care about what they are doing.**image

Erick Villagomez is an educator, independent researcher, and designer. He is the founder of Metis Design|Build and editor of Spacing Vancouver, an online publication looking at Metro Vancouver’s public realm and urban landscape. Erick also lectures and writes on topics regarding the built environment for professional, academic, and community audiences. We met through Spacing Vancouver.

Who are you ?

Boy, that’s a tough question. :)

I wear a lot of hats around town. Over and above being a father and husband, I teach a number of design-related course - architecture, urban design, drawing - at various schools in the Lower Mainland. I run a relatively diverse environmental design practice that delves into residential architecture, urban design consulting, information design and more recently illustration. Last but not least, on the side, I’m the Editor-in-Chief of a local online magazine called Spacing Vancouver that focuses on various issues related to the urban landscape.

Given all the random stuff I do, most people have trouble pinning me into a single category, so I kinda consider myself a kind of ‘design filler’….or ‘human caulking’ for urban and design-related issues.

What motivates you to get involved in city life?
Ultimately, I’m motivated by trying to understanding us - people - through the patterns that we leave in the built world and, with some luck, coming across some insights that can help us out with some of the concerns we have with our settlements. It’s one of those ongoing fascinations that I don’t think can ever fully be achieved…which is one of the reasons I like it so much.

At the end of the day, I think everything I do can be summed up by two statements:  Be principled, and always work to improve the human condition.

Why Vancouver?
To tell you the truth, it was more of an intuitive decision. When I first visited the city over a decade ago for a week, I think it embodied a lot of the values I held dear. That is my ‘rational’ reason.  The more accurate reason is that when I visited, I inexplicably just knew I had to live here. A bit cliche, I know…but true. The rest is history.

Vancouver would be better if____(fill in the blanks)
Blueberries grew here all year round! :)

Favourite public space?
There are too many. I actually have different favourites for different reasons. I think most people do. So, it’s tough to choose just one.
On an everyday basis, though, everybody knows I’m a huge fan of Commercial Drive.

Must have Vancouver souvenir?
Grounds For Coffee cinnamon bun….yes, confections can be souvenirs.

Favourite local hangout?
Given I have kids, what this question is really asking is what my favourite local playground is, to which I respond: the new seawall along Olympic Village.

Local inspiration (person, place or thing)?
Going to one of the local mountains on a rainy day and looking at the luminous and puffy landscape above the clouds

Worst thing about Vancouver?
That most people wear gray and black clothing in a very rainy city.

Favourite Vancouver memory?
I’ve been here long enough to build a pretty big archive of favourite local memories. One of the more recent was the amazing joy on my daughter’s face, (and overall experience) as I carried her my on shoulders with her tiny Team Canada jersey up Commercial Drive after they won the gold medal in 2010. Equally memorable was how brain dead everybody was the next day.

Citymakers is a column to profile people who positively contribute to the city (socially, artistically, environmentally, etc.) in their free time. Who else should be profiled here?
Elee Kraljii Gardiner - Thursday’s Writing Collective
Gordon Price
Andrew Pask - Vanouver Public Space Network
Yuri Artibise - Placespeak
Linus Lam - Executive Director, Architecture for Humanity Vancouver
Eesmyal Santos Brault - President & Founder, Vancouver Design Nerds

**Editor’s Note: I realize the last three profiles have all been men and can assure my readers that I will feature more women in the Citymakers column.