Principal & Landscape Architect, DIALOG
Photography Daniel Wood
Why She’s Top 40: She raises awareness about city building and designs a more inclusive Edmonton.
Urban spaces, like the City Market on 104th Street, excite Jill Robertson. In the summer, she bikes there with her family and bumps into friends as they shop for groceries, feeding off the energy of Edmonton. It’s the type of beautiful and welcoming space she aims to create in all her projects at DIALOG, where she design —as her friend’s three-year-old describes what she designs—“the Earth that isn’t a building.”
Robertson wanted to be a landscape architect since she was 12, when she learned about it at a program at the University of Calgary. “It appealed to me that I got to draw pretty pictures, but also make the world better. That’s what I get to do every day: Come to work and create spaces for people to enjoy that hopefully make our world lovelier, sustainable, inclusive and welcoming.”
Her high-profile projects (which she works on with her team) — such as the new main entrance at the University of Alberta Botanic Garden and the 100th Street Funicular — transform the way Edmontonians experience the city. “One of my favourite quotes is, ‘We’re all temporarily able-bodied,’” she explains. “Mechanized access has really changed the ability for people to get down to the river.”
She believes the most important step in any design project is to have a conversation with the people who will use the space. “I think citizens have a social right to participate in the design of their cities,” says Robertson. Through interactive initiatives, including PARKing Day and YEG Happy City, she works to spread awareness about design and city building, and makes citizens question how they use urban space.
Robertson’s also a champion and mentor for women in the industry. “I have been really lucky to have great mentors in my life and I want to pay that forward.”
This article appears in the November 2018 issue of Avenue Edmonton. Subscribe here.