Frank Ducote is one of the most experienced and influential urban designers in British Columbia, having worked at the municipal level for almost 30 years, and for the last decade as a private consultant. He is the Principal and sole practitioner of Frank Ducote Urban Design, a Vancouver-based firm specializing in urban design, physical planning and public engagement for creative and feasible outcomes for both private and public sector clients. Frank served as Senior Planner and Senior Urban Designer for the City of Vancouver for over eleven years and has held similar roles in San Diego’s City Architect’s Office, the City of North Vancouver and the District of North Vancouver. In the District of North Vancouver position, he helped develop the visions and community plans for four town and village centres that are intended to capture the great majority of the District’s growth over the next twenty years.
Gary Penway, the City of North Vancouver’s Director of Community Development, describes the exceptional planning skills that Frank displayed in developing the multi-award-winning Civic Centre for the City of North Vancouver. The Centre, anchored by the Civic Library, was awarded top honours at the 2012 National Urban Design Award and the BCLA Award of Excellence. It also was awarded both the Governor General’s and the AIBC Lieutenant Governor’s Awards. His urban design contributions to team efforts have also led to PIBC planning awards for Vitalize Tofino and the Colwood/Langford Official Community Plan.
In addition to his private practice work, Frank continues to teach courses in the influential SFU City Program in Public Realm, Integrated Neighbourhoods and Visual Communication. He is also adjunct professor at UBC’s School of Community and Regional Planning and guest lecturer at other educational institutes. He has also held teaching posts in planning and architecture department programs in San Diego, Los Angeles, Pomona, and at Langara College in Vancouver.
His teaching and mentoring skills are especially note-worthy. Hundreds of students have benefitted from Frank’s friendly, ethical and inspirational approach to mentoring and teaching. Several supporters now in leading planning positions stress the benefits they have derived from Frank’s mentoring.
Frank is a recognized expert in leading and facilitating public and stakeholder urban design charrettes. His “let’s get physical” approach helps lay persons visualize and communicate their own aspirations clearly. To this end, Frank has developed a unique modeling process to engage participants in meaningful 3-dimensional design exercises. The intent is to move away from expert-developed 2-D drawings, thus allowing lay participants an equal opportunity to engage in a “hands-on” planning and urban design process. The result has been the fairly quick development of alternate scenarios worthy of comparison and discussion, with a goal of a shared vision moving forward. All participants know they have had input to the planning process. Frank’s devotion to finding ways to communicate the complexity of planning and urban design has led to demands for his advice from developers, educators, governments and citizen groups.
Frank volunteers significant time to community work including service on formal, council-appointed advisory committees such as the City of Vancouver’s Planning Commission and currently with West Vancouver’s Design Review Committee. He also served as a director on the board of the Vancouver Museum. Frank is a very active participant in the ongoing and energetic public discussions about planning in Metro Vancouver, with a particular keen interest in helping to build grass roots awareness and consensus wherever possible.
He spends much volunteer time in advising a variety of community groups about planning issues and helping to raise public awareness and understanding of planning and development. He is currently a key member of the citizen-based Downtown Waterfront Working Group, which is effectively addressing major issues facing the creation of a regional transportation Hub on the City’s Central Waterfront. The quality of urban design, public realm and sense of contextual fit are always paramount aspirations in this work.