About Us

Our office embraces an interdisciplinary approach to preparing creative solutions.

We encourage our clients in exploring and in participating in the design process - supported by staff and consultants who have strength in different areas of knowledge– from biological sciences and urban planning to intercultural studies and fine arts. Much of our work explores inexpensive and ordinary materials, inspired by our love for Nature – including wonderful ideas such as biomimicry, energy use minimization, and urban ecology. It is Nature who is the expert at optimization and energy efficiency. Let's engage simple and efficient solutions for healthy and comfortable living– solutions that do not rely on large budgets, nor solely on technology. We look forward to sharing knowledge and working with people who share our passion for natural systems and a deep respect for our environment.

Much of our office's current work involves the design of affordable and healthy housing for First Nation communities. We support and acknowledge Reconciliation through helping mentor and train young indigenous people to become the designers and builders for their own communities.

David Wong, Architect AIBC

Vancouver born David Wong began his career as a member of the original city of Vancouver planning team that transformed the city's Central Business District into an internationally recognized urban model. A background as a biologist has helped him lead his office in sustainable design – including some of Asia's first green buildings; Metro Vancouver Fraser Valley's first LEED Gold building; private residences, destination health & wellness resorts.

David is also the best selling author of the graphic novel, Escape to Gold Mountain and was named by the Vancouver Sun as one of BC's "100 influential Chinese-Canadians", and as one of "Vancouver's Leading Lights in Green Design". A recipient of a Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal, David was one of 57 distinguished Canadians inducted as an Honorary Witness by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada in 2013.

Jim Lehto, Planner MAUD, Harvard

Jim Lehto, principal of Urban Design & Development Ltd. was a senior City of Vancouver Downtown Development and Policy Planner, overseeing much of the redevelopment of the city's downtown core. He holds a Bachelor of Architecture and Bachelor of Arts from the University of Toronto and a Masters of Architecture and Urban Design from Harvard. Jim's specialty is in Transit Oriented Developments, Re-zonings, and Sustainable Masterplanning and Community Planning.

Having first been colleagues together at the City of Vancouver, Jim Lehto and David Wong have maintained their professional relationship, and have collaborated on numerous projects over the past decades, with very satisfactory results for their government and private industry clients.

Jeffrey Yap

Jeffrey has a lengthy architectural career (more than 40 years) designing award winning buildings that span the globe (Honolulu, Hong Kong, Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, China, Vietnam, India and Canada).

Having been business partners with David in Singapore in the 1980s, Jeffrey relocated to Canada in 2009. This move provided the opportunity to apply his extensive industry experience in sustainable community and resort design, and to further expand his knowledge in environmentally respectful and healthy housing design.

Colleen McGuinness, Office Manager

Colleen McGuinness is a respected community leader who recently served as co-Chair on the Vancouver Seniors Advisory Committee and Engaged City Task Force.

Colleen has been involved for many years with development of business and cultural relationships between the sister cities of Vancouver & Guangzhou, and of the sister provinces of BC & Guangdong.. She has served as the Executive Director of the BC Guangdong Business Council and at the Vancouver Guangzhou Friendship Society, and was a past president of the Chinese Canadian Historical Society, a Trustee of the Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden and the City of Vancouver Chinatown Area Planning Advisory Committee.

Peter Dartana M. Arch. P. Eng (Alberta)

Peter Dartana, leads the office's technical and construction documentation. He is registered with the Association of Professional Engineers, Geologists and Geophysicists of Alberta since 1987, and has extensive experience with computer administration and networks on both Mac and IBM based platforms.

His design work has seen him manage a wide spectrum of projects – from interior space planning and design, construction detailing and drawings, to private residences and places of worship. Peter is also fluent in the Dutch and Indonesian languages.

Jon Ellis, Planner

Jon Ellis was a Senior Development Planner at the City of Vancouver in the 1970s and 80s, involved with major projects including Pacific Place, inaugural heritage area preservation plans, including Gastown and Chinatown, and key civic projects such as the Art Gallery and the Orpheum Theatre. Jon helped formulate community design policies that led to the introduction of urban residential living in the downtown core, and integration of Transit Oriented Developments into the Downtown and False Creek fabric.

Jon advocated much of Vancouver's early neighbourhood community planning, helping shape the city into today's successful diverse community of neighbourhoods.