Forum Lecture: More or Less, the Work of Public City

November 13, 2023

6:00 p.m.

Woman standing beside a seated man, both smiling at the camera. A bookshelf and books in the background



Title: More or Less, the Work of Public City


Date: Monday, November 13, 2023, 6:00 p.m.


Location: The Carleton Dominion-Chalmers Centre,  355 Cooper St. Ottawa, ON. Entrance at Lisgar and O’Connor streets.


Speakers: Liz Wreford and Peter Sampson


Free and open to the public 

Public City is a trans-disciplinary design studio practicing architecture, landscape architecture, urban design, and public art across Canada. It’s known for a whimsical body of work, characterized by strong use of colour and a playful repurposing of found objects and story.


In 2022, the firm won an international competition to design the 2SLGBTQI+ National Monument in Ottawa. 


The firm is owned and led by Liz Wreford and Peter Sampson.  They will present architecture, landscape architecture, and public artworks created between 2013 and 2023. They will also discuss how Public City uses prototyping and small projects to develop and test the ideas that inform their larger work.


Public City is a recipient of the Governor General’s Medal in Architecture, the CSLA National Award of Excellence, the RAIC/CSLA Urban Design Award, Canadian Architect Awards, and the AZ Award to name a few. Azure and The Globe & Mail have both named Public City one of Canada’s top emerging design practices of the 21st Century.  Public City is currently shortlisted for two other major design competitions in Calgary and Toronto. The firm’s work was recently published in Macleans, The Globe and Mail, Landscape/Paysages, and in Leslie Jen’s recent book, Canadian Architecture, Evolving a Cultural Identity.


With offices in Winnipeg and Toronto, Public City is committed to the emergence of a design-based national dialogue on urbanism as a critical part of Canadian identity, policy, and well-being.


Principal and Founding Director, Public City Architecture


Liz is co-founder and Principal Landscape Architect of Public City. She is an award-winning Canadian landscape architect who holds dual citizenship with Australia. Her work is known for its vibrant recasting of urban folklore, history, and the stories of people and place.  Liz has over twenty years of experience in the profession and she has worked in Canada, the United States and Australia on private, commercial, and institutional commissions. The work of Liz’s sole proprietorship, Plain Projects, was published in The New York Times and Azure and the firm quickly became identified for its much loved Hygge House installation on the frozen Red River of Winnipeg. 


Committed to high-quality design and equity across city-building professions, Liz worked with acclaimed architects Brigitte Shim and Shirley Blumberg to set up the Prairie chapter of Building Equality in Architecture. Alongside practice, she is a business owner, teacher, public artist, mother, and mentor to those who lean into her experiences.  Liz has taught at the Universities of Manitoba and Toronto and is frequently invited to lecture at universities and institutions across Canada. Liz currently sits on the Board of the Winnipeg Arts Council and is the Chair of its Public Art Committee. She has been involved in a number of public art commissions and competitions with major Canadian artists including Shawna Dempsey, Lorri Millan, and Sook-Yin Lee. She is currently leading three international design competitions for Public City and is spearheading the design and construction of the 2SLGBTQI+ National Monument with The National Capital Committee and The Purge Fund in Ottawa.


Principal and Founding Director, Public City Architecture


Peter is co-founder and Principal Architect of Public City. He is an award winning Canadian architect of Swedish descent and grew up in Montreal and Toronto where his three adult children now live. He studied Literature at McGill University, graduating in 1991, and, after living in Spain and Haida Gwaii, went on to study Architecture at the University of Toronto where he graduated with the Lieutenant Governor’s Medal and the Canadian Architect Student Award of Excellence. After graduating, he worked with a number of distinguished firms including Joe Lobko Architect (DTAH) and Levitt Goodman Architects (LGA Partnership) of Toronto. He has taught architecture design studios at the Universities of Toronto and Waterloo. In 2005, he moved to Winnipeg and was adjunct faculty at the University of Manitoba until 2010.   In 2008, he established his own office and early on the firm won a number of awards for its innovative approaches to public infrastructure. In 2016, he restructured the practice into a transdisciplinary studio when Liz Wreford joined him as Director and Principal Landscape Architect of Public City.  


Peter’s work has been published in Canadian Architecture, Macleans, Canadian Architect, The Globe and Mail, and Azure. He has lectured at and been invited as a guest critic to a number of universities and has sat on the jury of important awards programs. He was a member of the MAA Council from 2009-2015, the Art City Board of Directors from 2012-2016, and the CACB Board of Directors from 2014-2017. Peter is a Fellow of the Royal Architecture Institute of Canada and continues to be involved in a national dialogue on the state of Canadian urbanism. He is currently working on a book about the work of Public City which will be published by the Dalhousie Architectural Press.

A poster of a birds eye view of people walking outside. The poster is adverting the Open Forum Lecture Series 2023/24 called Common Cause, Architecture in the Public Interest. It lists lecture dates for Sept 25, Nov 1, Nov 13, Jan 17, Feb 7, and March 6.