David Verbeek talks about fourth year

A day in the life

David Verbeek talks about fourth year

david_verbeek_environmental science_37160 (2) (214x214)

All my classes have related to each other in ways I didn't expect. There are relationships between cultural, geographic, environmental, and economic factors you don’t get to study when you’re focused on only one subject.

Urban design—with the environment in mind

David Verbeek, of Woodstock, Ontario, says he looked at a couple of undergraduate planning programs before deciding on Dalhousie. “I thought it would be a bit of an adventure to come here,” he says. “It was a combination of being able to do a professional degree and be in Halifax—and be at a school with a good reputation.”

As an honours student in the Bachelor of Community Design (BCD) program, David had the choice to major in Environmental Planning or Urban Design Studies. “At first I wanted to do Environmental Planning,” he says, “but then the Urban Design classes interested me more—thinking about how you could affect a city through design.”

And doing an Environmental Studies minor makes him “think about designing everything with the environment in mind.” His perspective on planning has been influenced by other subjects, too—like a second-year Oceanography class: “It gave me an understanding of the history of coastal towns, and how they developed because of the ocean and related industries.”

This semester, David is getting hands-on experience with urban planning and sustainability issues by doing an internship through the Environmental Science program. On a field trip last year, his interest was piqued by the Morris Building—a south-end house built circa 1760 for Charles Morris, Nova Scotia’s first Chief Surveyor. So David contacted a prof to see if he could get involved in the project to relocate the house to the north end.

The project is a “blend of urban design and environmental sustainability,” David says. “It’s really a cross between my major and my minor, which is neat. I’m learning a lot from profs, architects, designer, activists—a lot of really cool people. It’s also nice to use the skills I’m learning in class, applying them to a project that I’ll actually see happen.”

The Morris Building, once relocated to the north end, will be support housing for disadvantaged youth. “We just submitted funding and development applications with the federal government and with the city, respectively,” he says. “It’s been interesting to see the political processes involved.” And, his new skills have come in handy: “I used my planning background to help determine which lot would be most suitable—I did drawings for it, which was neat.”