IMG_7227 - Downtown Edmonton by Brice Ferre Studio - Vancouver Portrait Photographer.jpg

Downtowns are spaces for everyone.

Designing Downtown is a vehicle for inter-city exchange and partnerships that links people active in urban cores around the world. It is a network of downtown-focused groups that see value in fostering bold thinking and action by exposing people to new ideas and models, as well as opportunities for exchange, investment, and action.


where it started

Co-founded in 2010 in Edmonton, Canada by Lisa Baroldi, Shafraaz Kaba, and Christine Causing, and fuelled by dedicated volunteers at Progress Unlimited, MADE, and Edmonton’s NextGen, Designing Downtown was a reaction to top-down approaches to downtown and the need to gather and engage urbanists differently, tapping into Edmonton’s creativity, entrepreneurial spirit, and global networks. 

our mission

Downtowns are hubs of diverse cultural and artistic expressions, business transactions, activist voices, tourist experiences, public spaces, and government action. Unique interactions and projects take place in the hearts of cities. Designing Downtown showcases these, and facilitates collaborations among the broad spectrum of people who are creatively designing downtowns. 

what we're doing

Through carefully curated events that break the mold, Designing Downtown has created opportunities for entrepreneurs to explore ideas for city changing initiatives: unconventional city branding exercises, new investments and developments, urban interventions, city flag redesigns, and all kinds of relationships that are transforming downtowns across the country.


Lisa Baroldi

Lisa is an award-winning social entrepreneur and marketing strategist focused on downtown revitalization, the creative economy and Aboriginal business development. She holds a Master’s degree from the Norman Paterson School of International Affairs and degrees with distinction from the University of Alberta and the Institut d’études politiques. From a rural community in northern Alberta, she has worked across Canada and in France and Sierra Leone. Currently, she leads growth acceleration initiatives at the Edmonton Economic Development Corporation and directs Progress Unlimited, a company that creates and markets movements to affect positive change.

Shafraaz Kaba

Shafraaz Kaba is an architect and partner at Manasc Isaac Architects with offices in Edmonton and Calgary. Over the last 15 years, he has made significant contributions to the design and cultural landscape of Edmonton, including founding Media, Architecture Design Edmonton (MADE). He was named one of Edmonton's Top 40 under 40. He has built a net-zero-ready home in Beverly Heights for his family that was featured by David Suzuki. Currently, he his working with MacEwan University on their new Centre for Arts and Communications building in downtown Edmonton.


Christine Causing

Christine is the Coordinator for Edmonton's NextGen Initiative at the City of Edmonton which brings together young community leaders that include civic members who work at the City of Edmonton. She initially became involved with NextGen when she was appointed by City Council on its Task Force in 2005-06 and led the Arts and Cultural consultations which engaged over 100 next gener's to talk about the current state of the arts and cultural scene in Edmonton. Some NextGen projects that she is proud to have helped spearhead include: Pecha Kucha Nights and implementing free WiFi in Churchill Square and in City of Edmonton public facilities. For her work with NextGen, Christine was recognized in Avenue Magazine’s Top 40 Under 40 in 2011. 


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