Associate Director, Building Innovations


Date Posted



Architecture August 9, 2018 Sidewalk Labs Toronto, ON, Canada

Please note that this job has expired and is for reference only. See our active listings for jobs.

Sidewalk Labs is an Alphabet company tackling the challenges of urban growth. We are currently designing a new kind of mixed-use, complete community on Toronto’s waterfront in partnership with the tripartite agency Waterfront Toronto and the local community. This joint effort, called Sidewalk Toronto, will combine forward-thinking urban design and new digital technology to create a people-centered neighborhood that achieves precedent-setting levels of sustainability, affordability, mobility, and economic opportunity.

Realizing this ambitious mission requires immense collaboration across our unique team of city experts, real estate developers, investors, engineers, product managers, and designers—the full range of urbanists and technologists. To tackle this challenge, we have organized our work into six areas that we believe are core to a transformed urban experience: mobility, sustainability, public realm, buildings, city services, and community. An underlying digital platform powers these initiatives and enables ongoing innovation.

Sidewalk’s Buildings Innovation team is lean but ambitious, bringing together designers, researchers, and strategists with backgrounds that span architecture, landscape, urbanism, rapid prototyping, and creative technology development. The team is responsible for the innovation strategy, design, and planning to create affordable, flexible, and sustainable buildings across Toronto’s waterfront. Team members share a commitment to urban innovation and have diverse backgrounds and areas of expertise. This position is ideal for someone who is passionate about the future of cities and wants to be part of a team focused on how innovation will shape that future.

What is the role?

The Associate Director of Buildings Innovation will report to the Director of Buildings Innovation. The work will be focused on driving innovation into the design and construction of physical plan development. The buildings will be focused on reaching three goals:

  • Affordability—Reduce the cost and increase the speed of construction through manufacturing of buildings.
  • Flexibility—Allow for radical mixed-use on day one and for the years that follow by using interchangeable parts that enable spaces to be easily modified.
  • Sustainability—Use Passive House methodologies to make buildings more sustainable, healthier for the occupants, and more affordable to operate.

You will be a key member of Sidewalk’s Buildings team, working collaboratively with the engineering, product, design, investment, and development teams across the organization to develop and source products for an innovative district that dramatically improve the lives of residents, workers, and visitors. Initially, you will be focused on creating building design concepts that leverage the most advanced materials and processes to understand how far buildings can be reinvented when not beholden to century-old codes and construction industry inertia.

We envision an opportunity for a new approach to construction in which manufacturing drives down cost and increases the speed at which we can build. On the job, you will be shaping how a digital platform will allow us to progress from design concepts into detailed design models, manufacturing, and robotic construction. Cost reductions will play an integral part in how more affordable housing is delivered to markets where housing shortages are acute.

For new urban areas, buildings will not only be designed for today but will be able to meet the needs of the community 50 years from now. We can’t predict the future but we can build in flexibility that will stand the test of time.

What We Expect

We are looking for an experienced architect, engineer, or construction professional able to think big and drive those big ideas into constructed buildings. This professional will be able to communicate with all disciplines as well as the representatives of Waterfront Toronto. She will be as comfortable in design as in the field. Additionally, she should be a self-propelled driving force in the office with the savvy to know when to escalate issues.

Working in the Buildings team will require pushing the boundaries to integrate the best ideas that both have been and have not been thought of and developing a process to get the best ideas to market. That will require getting the right players to contribute to make the ideas stronger and more feasible from all points of view.

What You Have to Achieve

Day-to-day, you will work closely with a small, cross-disciplinary team to:

  • Deeply understand the everyday needs of residents, workers, and civic leaders, and use this knowledge to identify the best opportunities to leverage technology to improve urban experience.
  • Develop building design that supports the concept of neighborhoods and allows for a sense of place.
  • Develop interiors that can be renovated in weeks instead of months, thus improving the returns of landlords and tenants alike and lessening disturbance to the streetscape and neighborhood residents.
  • Execute prototypes at Sidewalk’s innovation lab in Toronto as well as in any potential early adopter projects that emerge.
  • Develop our first building in the first phase of development to demonstrate innovations we want real-world feedback on.

After 3 months

  • Develop a deep understanding of the goals of Sidewalk Toronto.
  • Collaborate with Sidewalk’s other working groups and key work streams, including Sustainability, Public Realm, Housing Affordability, Mobility, and Responsible Data Use to further their outcomes as well as that of Buildings.
  • Develop an RFP to solicit bids from various architecture and manufacturing companies to put contracts in place and begin Proto-Model design for buildings across the project site.
  • Become well acquainted with Toronto building codes including Toronto’s approach to Passive House and LEED.

After 6 months

  • Synthesize design information from the Buildings team with the other working teams and drive physical models to be constructed at our innovation lab in Toronto for further study and public interaction.
  • Lead meetings with architects and engineers that are producing designs for proto-model buildings.

After 12 months

  • Be able to articulate the most promising outcomes from the design and manufacturers’ work and begin to drive these outcomes into the design of first phase buildings in the project site of Toronto.
  • Conduct design review meetings to refine final designs from architects and engineers.
  • Create bid packages for first phase building designs.