News & Events

Pride at DIALOG 2023

June 27, 2023

This Pride Month (which begins in Canada on June 1), we’ve invited all DIALOGers from across our studios to join us in celebrating our LGBTQIA2+ community all month long.  At DIALOG, we’re proud of the diverse identities that make up our workplace, and we embrace an open and inclusive culture that lets all of us bring our whole selves to work every day.

This month, we’re encouraging everyone to show their support by engaging with various activities, resources, events, forums, and learning opportunities. We also asked some DIALOGers to reflect on Pride, allyship, and what inclusive design means to them. Keep reading to see what they had to say.

Kyle Auch | Associate, Architect

What does Pride mean to you?

Pride is more than a month, a week, a day; it is every day of my life. Pride represents not only my journey but all those who have experienced the same struggles toward living our true authentic selves. It is also an opportunity to educate and transform further towards a space of acceptance.

What does allyship look like to you?

Allyship is keeping an open mind to something or someone different than yourself. It is a support network that gives those within a minority the courage to live their true authentic selves and allows them to be comfortable wherever they may be.

How does inclusivity inform your work as an architect and team leader? 

Inclusivity allows all voices an equal opportunity to inform the design, project management and architecture process. It respects and creates a space where those voices feel valued and heard and a practice that seeks to improve social, political, and cultural principles.

As the AEC industry evolves, how will the visibility and inclusion of the LGBTQIA2S+ community inform the direction of design and the built environment?

The LGBTQIA2+ are included within the voices just like any others that deserve the right to live their true authentic selves and use their journeys to help improve the design process through collaboration and conversation. These voices will enrich the design process and built outcomes while educating those to improve inclusivity through design and architecture.

Jason Abelson | Vancouver Studio Administrator

What does Pride mean to you?

Pride is a celebration of how far we have come as a society and a reminder of how much further we still have to go. There are still endless laws worldwide targeting the LGBTQ2S+ communities, so the fight for equal rights is ongoing. While we are legally protected here in Canada, discrimination and prejudice are fairly common, especially outside the bigger cities. Pride is a time for us to come together as a community, raise awareness of the issues we still face, and hopefully take a few steps closer to a world where everyone is accepted, despite their differences. For me, a gay trans man, Pride is the time I welcome questions, hoping to share some knowledge and break down stereotypes.

What does allyship look like to you?

Allyship is taking the time to listen to those in the community and trying to understand what they are saying. There is no one way to be an ally, but support without judgement goes a long way. We don’t need rainbow flags everywhere, but knowing that those around us are willing to stand up for us gives us a sense of security. We are a minority, so we need the help of our allies to make our voices heard.

How has DIALOG helped to foster an inclusive community?

When I came into the Vancouver studio for my first interview, the rainbow DIALOG logo immediately made me smile. My “buddy” was someone that I quickly knew would be accepting of me, making me feel more comfortable here at DIALOG. One of the partners, too, wants my input on how we can make DIALOG more welcoming and inclusive to LGBTQ2S+ individuals, recognizing that we still have quite a way to go. The rainbow logo on the front door is not enough, but it is a great first step! The response to my wanting to present on everything transgender has been incredibly positive, so I know DIALOGers want to learn more.

How do you see design being able to support the LGBTQ2S+ community?

Design has the opportunity to create a space that feels welcoming to everyone, not just LGBTQ2S+ individuals. However, it’s the people who occupy a space that make it feel welcoming. As a trans person, gendered bathrooms still make me anxious 11 years after starting my transition. A push toward gender-neutral bathrooms is a relief, knowing that one day the worry of bathrooms will no longer be an issue when going to new places.

Tai Ziola | Partner, Architect

How do you show up as an ally?

To me, it means better listening — not assuming what others need or putting them into boxes but recognizing that everyone’s experience will differ. Taking the time, having the humility to ask what would be helpful, and being open to learning how to be a better ally. In general, we all must recognize our areas of privilege and try to use our agency to centre other experiences and voices.

What does inclusive design look like in your work?

In my projects, I try not to assume that experience is universal and that the design team members know what others need. Instead, we work to identify which voices are really important and might be missing from the table. We seek to engage and consult them for input about their experience that will help shape the project. We try to operate using the strategies of trauma-informed design, whose primary approach is to recognize that individuals of all backgrounds – particularly those in marginalized communities – may have had negative experiences they were unprepared for and which exceeded their ability to cope. Therefore, individuals might be approaching the spatial experience from a very different place and history. It is not only essential to engage diverse users for their participation in the design but important that the design outcomes empower the space’s end users with choices around how to engage with the built environment.

How were these principles applied to the MacEwan University Centre for Sexual and Gender Diversity?

From its inception, this project was designed to be, by definition, a safe space for the campus’ LGBTQ2S+ community, to recognize that a place is required where staff and students can choose to recharge and feel a sense of respite from the campus environment. Working closely with the Centre’s leaders, our design team consulted and learned about what was important to their community and collaborated to capture those elements in the design. (This included a deep dive into the history and importance of the specific colours in the Pride flag, so those could be Pantone colour-matched and incorporated into the wall treatment in the lounge!) The centre also employs many of the tenets of trauma-informed design in its approach to facilitating peer support and providing choices for users around how to engage with the University experience.

MacEwan University Centre for Sexual and Gender Diversity