Urban Arts Architecture (UAA) is an award winning Vancouver based architectural firm specializing in community and cultural, projects across BC and the Yukon.

Structured as partnership of corporations, UAA was formed in 2006 by an amalgamation of Urban Forum Architecture and Marshall Arts Architecture. UAA's partners Shelley Craig and Jennifer Marshall each bring over twenty five years experience as principals in providing architectural planning, design, and consultation services.

The firm has committed itself to:

  • creating engaging architecture that gives form to our client’s goals

  • innovating as a way of working

  • creating sustainable buildings with healthy environments that

  • minimize their impact on the environment

  • rooting each project firmly in its context - tying the architecture to its site, inhabitants, purpose, and culture

UAA has established a reputation for innovation and exceptional service, and have been recognized many times for design excellence in buildings that achieve a high level of public appreciation.

UAA's creativity and innovation delivers exceptional projects for our clients. Our design and construction solutions strive to be local, practical, buildable, cost effective and stand the test of time. We strive for solutions that increase building performance and optimize operational sustainability.

Our firm is currently working on several institutional projects with construction budgets ranging up to $15 million. Our relevant projects include Advanced Education facilities, Cultural Centres, Multi-use Facilities, Libraries, Museums, and First Nations projects.



UAA is dedicated to providing consultant services that are responsive to our clients' needs in an integrated team approach.  Our approach is defined by our commitment to building community. We achieve this by:

•   Stakeholder engagement throughout the project process

•   Sustainable design + innovation

•   Being responsible to the funds availabl 


Ownership through participation

 Our design philosophy is rooted in the belief that true architecture reflects the vision of its users. We work closely with our clients to realize their vision, creating sustainable facilities that ensure positive community growth. Our design process is rooted in stakeholder consultation through a participatory design process to ensure solid understanding of issues and to maximize the project's potential.

We have the skills and experience to work with key stakeholders within a tradition of consensus building.  Building consensus enables client involvement and establishes trust within the client group and ensures that our clients are being heard. Involvement and trust enhances cooperation, understanding and the quality of the design and construction. We utilize a variety of participatory design techniques from exploring precedents, to brainstorming opportunities and constraints, to gaming the organization and layout of the facility.

Many of our projects provide partnership opportunities that embed community involvement, aiming to strengthen community fabric through collaborative partnerships.  Opportunities may include creating space for community support agencies, providing sponsorship opportunities, and enabling community members to participate in the construction of the project.


Creating sustainable communities

UAA integrates sustainable principles in all of our work, to a level that is determined appropriate for each individual client and project. Our over-arching goal is to minimize GHG emissions, keep operating costs low, and nurture a strong and resilient community. We work with each of our clients to develop a sustainable approach that works specifically for their needs. We establish sustainable development strategies and LEED™ targets from the outset of the project. 


Our practice is founded on a commitment to 5 aspects of sustainability:

Proficiency -  We utilize an integrated design process to create contextually appropriate facilities that are fundamentally comfortable and aesthetically beautiful spaces to occupy built with leading edge building practices.

People  - UAA works in a consensus based model with our clients and project stakeholders to embed ethical standards and social equality in all of our projects.

Planet - The creation of a healthy and appropriate environment for the users isthe main focus of our ‘green’ priorities, ensuring environmental quality and resource efficiency.

Prosperity - Our goal is to ensure ongoing economic performance and compatibility through minimizing operational and maintenance expenditures. A key strategy in developing practical solutions for sustainable design is to invest in ‘both and’ strategies where a particular feature provides more than one benefit to the project.

Progress - UAA strives to push the edges of each project, innovating as a way of working to maximize the projects capacity for making a difference in the lives of its users. We aim to clearly articulate design features that most contribute to sustainability, such that they are clearly understood by users and visitors.  In this sense, the building can be a sophisticated teaching tool for the community.


Working Together to Contain Cost

UAA works diligently with our clients to achieve projects that are economic to build, maintain and operate. We achieve value through effective project management of costs, consultants, schedule, and communication resulting in the delivery of a project on time and on budget.  

The firm’s principals manage our projects directly; ensuring accountability, experience, and strong management skills are maximized throughout the project.


Cost Management

We utilize construction knowledge, up to date costing information, and design in a dynamic process to achieve the best value for the client’s construction dollars. From the outset, we work to achieve cost effective design solutions, costing the project as an integral part of the design process.

Cost management is crucial to identifying and achieving maximum value and is therefore a keystone to any integrated design and construction process. We will work closely with the Project Manager and the Cost Consultant to assist them in offering meaningful professional cost advice, supported by relevant data, throughout the integrated project cycle.

Estimates are based on specific cost data and expert market knowledge. Specific allowances are included to reflect the evolving components of the design, management, risk and value.


Life Cycle Costing & Sustainable Design

As an owner operator of a government facility, it is of utmost importance to consider Life Cycle costs of the building over its life span when making Capital Building Cost decisions.  Our sustainable design approach is structured to reduce future operating and maintenance costs, resulting in a durable, easily maintained, and flexible facility that can be adapted to changes in use over its life span.


Communications Management

We have found that the key to a successful project is clear communication and a cohesive project team.  An integral part of our communications with the our clients is rigorous reporting and clear well-defined submissions on a regular basis, custom formatted to the clients reporting needs.  We manage and communicate with the consultant team to meet deadlines and to ensure coordinated project design and documentation.  We use many graphic tools to communicate the design as it evolves, including models and 3-D computer renderings & fly-throughs.





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Maria Reyes Bariain | Architectural Designer

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Alexander Wilton | Intern Architect