New Associates Eager to Apply Their Design Experience, Creativity and Leadership

Kamyar Abbasi and Heider Alward

Blog // Feb. 5, 2024

We are pleased to announce the appointment of Kamyar Abbasi and Heider Alward to Associate. In their own, unique way, Kam and Heider apply their wealth of design experience, creativity and leadership to help nurture positive, productive team environments that contribute tremendously to STUDIO tla’s purpose: creating meaningful, inclusive environments through responsible and sustainable design.

To help celebrate their appointments, we asked Kam and Heider what drives them and what they are looking forward to embracing in their new roles as Associates with STUDIO tla.
What are your areas of interest in landscape architecture/urban design and what are you passionate about:

Kam: I am passionate about designing urban landscapes, parks and waterfronts where – in my experience – there is an opportunity for storytelling, and to elevate ecological and sustainability parameters. I find the collaborative nature of our profession, and the opportunity to participate in project work – which is respectful to context, nature and social environments – a highly satisfying aspect of landscape architecture and urban design.

Heider: Designing places that are meaningful and transformative, while being sensitive to the challenges of our times, is my life’s calling. And my journey as a designer has helped me develop passions in many areas for me: placemaking, inclusive public spaces, ecological restoration and regenerative design, community building, sustainability, and parametric design. I suppose the fact that I’m passionate about so many things is a great indicator of why I love what I do!!

As a newly appointed Associate, what opportunities and challenges are you looking forward to taking on?

Kam: This appointment presents a wonderful opportunity for me to achieve a higher level of engagement in master planning, public realm design and community-focused projects. This also opens doors on the marketing and business development side as I will place a greater emphasis on making new business connections with existing and prospective clients.

In terms of challenges, there is an increasing demand for innovations in sustainable design, which can be challenging in the context of the realities of budgets and timelines. My goal is to improve my knowledge about sustainable design and work with other disciplines to develop new and interesting solutions that help reduce our impact on the environment, while creating designs that imbue spaces with a sense of beauty and timelessness that inspires people.

Finally, I am keen on participating in a higher level of collaboration with Indigenous communities. As landscape architects, we have a unique role to acknowledge the rights and profound spiritual connection that Aboriginal people have with the land, and to respect and integrate their storytelling into a meaningful design by working closely with Indigenous community members early in the concept development stage.
Heider: I’m excited to leverage my experience from the world of retail and mixed-use developments, theme parks, water parks, and public parks – as well as my architectural, landscape, and master planning design skills – to contribute to our brand and build our cities. STUDIO tla has been participating in numerous projects that involve community engagement – Holmes Park in North York is a great example – and I am excited to get more involved in the process of engaging with communities to listen and understand what they want – find inspiration in their ideas and feedback–and then integrate what we gather and learn into spaces that truly mean something special to the community.

With my colleagues, I aim to inspire and be inspired–to grow and share my knowledge to help others thrive in their roles. I really hope that my rigor, vision, storytelling and the playfulness that I blend into the design process can positively influence others.

I’m also looking forward to sharing my ideas and experiences to help people understand how STUDIO tla is helping to transform the urban fabric of many different cities. There’s still a lot of work to be done to educate our peers and the public about what we truly do – and, in bigger picture view, what our profession does – and the impact it has on our cities, and I can’t wait to contribute to that narrative.