Our Team

Charles Montgomery

Founding principal

Charles Montgomery, Happy City’s founding principal, is an award-winning author, urbanist and leader of transformative experiments, research and interventions for wellbeing in cities. His acclaimed book, Happy City, Transforming Our Lives Through Urban Design, examines the intersection between urban design and the emerging science of happiness. Collaborating with the Guggenheim Museum, Futurewise, Laboratorio para la Ciudad and other entities, Montgomery has created experiments and design methods that help participants alter their relationships with their cities, and with each other. Among his numerous awards is a Citation of Merit from the Canadian Meteorological and Oceanographic Society for outstanding contribution towards the public’s understanding of climate change science. Charles is a member of the United Nations Sustainable Solutions Networks sub-council for Happy Cities.

Omar Dominguez

Managing principal

Omar Dominguez, Happy City managing principal, leads business planning processes and daily operations of Happy City’s consulting practice. Omar enables the development and delivery of cutting edge, value-creating sustainability strategies across Happy City’s portfolio of activities. He also leads interdisciplinary work using analysis and geographic data visualization to help cities guide key infrastructure and investment. Omar is also a member of the Vancouver City Planning Commission, where he advises City Council on matters pertaining to the future of the city.

Omar is also a sustainable investment issues professional. He has engaged corporate executives, standard-setting bodies, and regulators to find solutions to mitigate risks to investors, society and the environment. He holds a degree on International Business from the Technological Institute of Monterrey and an MA in Community Development and Social Planning from the University of British Columbia.

Marten Sims

European operations lead

Marten leads Happy City’s European operations – giving presentations, facilitating workshops, creating experiments, performing site audits, and designing spaces, services and engagement processes. Recent clients include British Land and the World Health Organization.

Marten brings fifteen years of design-industry experience, and holds a Degree in Graphic Design from the UK and a Masters in Design from Canada. He is also the founder of the trans-disciplinary design studio Beyond; a former president of the Vancouver Design Nerds; and a member of Vancouver’s Mayor’s Engaged City Task Force. Marten teaches design, civic engagement and facilitation at Emily Carr University, Simon Fraser University in Canada and the Arts University Bournemouth in the UK. In Vancouver, he’s known for creating temporary urban interventions and permanent installations such as a giant wooden nest for social interactions, hosting walking tours, and many other installations that foster sociability and creativity in public environments.

Houssam Elokda

Master planning and Middle East operations lead

Houssam is Happy City’s master planning and Middle East operations lead. His collaborative urban experiments and urban systems innovation research help clients harness urban design to maximize urban health and happiness. Houssam co-founded Transport For Cairo, which pioneered crowd-sourced tools to map Cairo’s massive transportation network. He produced Happy City’s groundbreaking collaboration with neuroscientists to examine the social effects of public space design in West Palm Beach. Houssam is also a distinguished public speaker, representing Happy City and others in events and workshops in the Middle East and elsewhere. Houssam received his Masters Degree in City Planning and Regeneration from the University of Glasgow in Scotland. There, his prize-winning work won recognition from the Royal Town Planning Institute and the Scottish Head of Placemaking and Housing.

Paty Rios

Research and Latin America lead

Paty leads Happy City’s research projects as well as work in Latin America. She focuses on social well-being in the built environment. She has an interdisciplinary background in architecture, urban design, ethnography and participatory design. She collaborated with world-renowned architecture studio Teodoro González de Leon, Gensler & Peschard, co-founded In.Situ and the non-profit organization Identidad y Ciudad in Mexico. Paty promotes a human-centered design approach that engages a great spectrum of stakeholders to analyze and work with the nuances of social complexities.

During her PhD she developed a participatory and interdisciplinary methodology to design urban parks hat promote social cohesion. Her international experience has helped her understand the different perspectives as well as cultural values that link urban design with human patterns. She is a sessional lecturer UBC and has experience teaching urban theory, project and urban methodologies. Paty is also a postdoctoral fellow at Liu Institute and explores the relation between the policy design process and participatory design in the planning of the city.

Mitchell Reardon

Mitchell Reardon approaches urban issues from a diversity of perspectives. He is an urbanist and principal at Metropolitan Collective whose interdisciplinary approach centres on people and how they live, work and move through the city. He employs a keen emphasis on social issues, wellbeing, public engagement, planning and design from the neighbourhood to the regional scale. Mitchell is also the deputy coordinator of TH!NK, IBI Group’s innovation team, and the TH!NK by IBI blog curator. He is a Canadian/Austrian who recently moved back to Vancouver, after 6 years in Stockholm, Sweden.

Collaborators

Frank Ducote

Frank Ducote is one of the most experienced and influential urban designers in Canada, having worked at the municipal level for almost 30 years, and for the last decade as a private consultant. He is specialized in urban design, physical planning and public engagement for creative and feasible outcomes for both private and public sector clients.  Frank served as Senior Planner and Senior Urban Designer for the City of Vancouver for over eleven years and has held similar roles in San Diego’s City Architect’s Office, the City of North Vancouver and the District of North Vancouver. In the District of North Vancouver position, he helped develop the visions and community plans for four town and village centres that are intended to capture the great majority of the District’s growth over the next twenty years.

Andy Likuski

Andy Likuski is an urban planner and software developer who uses technology to improve planning. He integrates emerging web technologies to advocate, visualize, and plan improvements to public space, transit, and cycling. Andy’s strives to make cities happier and more socially connected. He believes that proven urban forms like public plazas and tram lines make for far better places than an over-reliance on isolating technologies like autonomous cars. Andy previously led software development of UrbanFootprint at Calthorpe Associates and Calthorpe Analytics, creating the first open-source web-based land-use-planning software that allows regional governments and cities to plan sustainable futures. He currently lives in Oakland, California and helps firms, organizations, and municipalities understand and use planning software technology.

MODUS

Modus is a Vancouver-based consulting firm specializing in planning, urban design and public engagement. With 75 years of experience among its five Principals, Modus tackles tough problems to help communities and developers navigate the transition to sustainability. Our approach is rooted in process excellence, creative urban design, and a razor sharp focus on implementation. We work closely with clients and communities in order to draw out our collective insight and create a lasting legacy of healthy, sustainable projects and communities.

Hazel Borys

Placemakers

Hazel is the Managing Principal of PlaceMakers, where she works to guide governments through zoning reforms — allowing walkable, mixed-use, compact, resilient places to develop by-right — and helps developers to get things built under form-based codes and character-based land use laws of the new economy. Hazel is also the organizer of the Placemaking@Work webinar series, a board member of the Transect Codes Council, co-author of the Codes Study, and a blogger on PlaceShakers.

Tweets

In the News

Cities Are Creating Car-Free Zones to Ease Congestion And Pollution – NPR 

People are nicer to each other when they move more slowly’: how to create happier cities – The Guardian 

Walking Towards a Happy City – Walk 21 Vienna

La ciudad justa, verde, eficiente y feliz son el mismo lugar – El Pais

Happy City Heroes – Power and Influence

Happiness and cities: dispatch from the Academy of Urbanism – Monocle Radio

Christchurch Convention Centre location a ‘mistake’ – The Press, Christchurch; On-line

Why sprawling, car dependent cities are making us miserable? – TV New Zealand; TV

How can we make Vancouver happier? – CBC News; TV

The psychology of ‘no’: Vancouver transit vote is case study in why it’s so hard to do what makes us happy – National Post; Print

How Cities Make Us Sick – CBC News; TV

Voices of New Economies: An Interview With Charles Montgomery – Cities for People; On-line

Can we have happy sprawl – 720 AM, ABC Perth; Radio

How to make cities that make people happy – The Globe and Mail; Print

Choosing the happy city – Rethinking Transportation: New Voices, New Ideas; Video

Designing The Happy City – 94.9 FM, Seattle News & Information; Radio

Ballet of the Sidewalk– Metropolis Magazine; Print

Urban walking is a legal high, so why are cities cruel to pedestrians?– The Globe and Mail; Print

What makes a city, happy? – The Arcade; Podcast

Building Happier, Healthier, and More Sustainable Cities – Urban Land; On-line