The journey of IBI Group began in 1974, when Neal Irwin and Phil Beinhaker took a risk and established a new corporation amid a recession in Toronto, Canada. When an accounting business that joined their previous firm wanted to lay off five employees from the team, 47 people departed the practice in unison. The last names of the group’s most significant partners gave birth to the company name. Initially, IBI was for consulting practice, and BIA was for architectural practice. Still, due to the confusion with having two separate names, the company opted for IBI, where the second I stood for “incorporated.” Taking a more contemporary stance, the company has subsequently rebranded as “Intelligence, Buildings, and Infrastructure.”

The success formula for IBI Group

The business had a rocky start since the partners had to put their money at risk in the middle of a recession, but Phil and others were certain they would succeed. From the beginning, the group was close-knit and believed in community and working together; these fundamental beliefs pulled them together and kept them going. It didn’t work out so well at their initial location, Forty University Wisdom in Toronto, because they occupied two separate areas of the building, which hampered communication and team building. They later relocated to 156 Front Street, purchased two floors, and built a double-height room to allow for better visual and verbal encounters.

IBI Group intended to expand geographically from its inception, and they have worked hard to achieve rapid growth and open offices in other areas. Starting with just two offices in Toronto and Vancouver, the business quickly expanded to 65 offices in 12 countries and over 3000 personnel. One of the primary elements of IBI’s success is its philosophy of continually pushing the boundaries of what was possible, such as with integrated traffic management control systems in the 1970s. IBI built a one-of-a-kind environment in which architecture, engineering, and planning businesses collaborated. Nowadays, it is typical for architectural companies to branch out into planning or urban design and vice versa, but engineering is still a different story for many. The IBI group started approximately 50 years ago with that goal and futuristic strategy. Scott Stewart, the CEO, envisions the firm’s future with the belief and hope that everyone experiences the same opportunity and growth as the founders did all those years ago.

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Design workspace in IBI group’s office in LA, CO_ ©https://www.ibigroup.com/

IBI Group’s prominent projects 

The firm’s magnitude and initiatives are unfathomable to newcomers who try to categorize them as architecture, design, or planning, among other things. Intelligence initiatives such as the Operations & Maintenance Service Center, Transit Maintenance Garage, and the ATL Rides Mobile App are better than any traditional software business. At the same time, infrastructure works to produce Bhubaneswar Child-Friendly Public Space Design Guidelines or takes their leap into the future cities by launching Bedrock 15-Minute Neighbourhood Development. In this case, we discuss some of the firm’s stepping stone projects and transitioning into their current ones under each of the three sectors.

Intelligence

The London Summer Olympics in 2012 was one of the firm’s first internationally recognized and large-scale projects, showcasing the transportation system’s future. IBI Group’s travel demand management effort was part of a national campaign to “Get Ahead of the Games.” Following the project’s success, the firm helped build learning for users of London’s travel information system. In 2015, the company served as the principal architect for the Athlete village and transportation planning, delivery, and management for the Toronto 2015 Pan Am Games. 

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extensive lanes were reserved for Olympics traffic_©www.insidethegames.biz/articles/1012634/key-lessons-learnt-from-london-2012-added-to-learning-legacy-website

Apart from these large-scale initiatives, the business has established various mobile apps for transportation and accessibility, such as the award-winning ATL Rides Mobile App. However, one of the most intriguing initiatives moving towards the metaverse and the future is the IBI group’s IMMRSV. This event solution aims to bring the experience of visiting the event in person to the virtual world.

Image 3_IMMRSV by IBI Group_©www.ibigroup.comibi-projectsimmrsv

Building

Architecture and building can be a vast field; the IBI group has designed and constructed multiple projects from housing, community places, public services, and even high rises. Mississauga Bus Rapid Transit Station elevates the transit experience for the community. Built-in 2017, the bus station shows how transit locations can be well designed and aesthetically pleasing; they do not have to be a civic burden. 

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Bus rapid transit stations Mississauga_©www.ibigroup.comibi-projectsmississauga-bus-rapid-transit-stations

Furthering their concept of sustainability and better cities, IBI Group led architecture, landscape and passive design services for what would be the world’s tallest Passive House structure. The Curv, a 60-story high-rise in West End Vancouver, uses modular wall elements to maximize building efficiency, eliminate construction waste, and achieve superior air tightness. The facade has 60% super-insulated walls and 40% glazing, unlike previously constructed skyscrapers which are predominantly glass.

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The Curv_©www.ibigroup.comibi-projectsthe-curv

Infrastructure

President’s award winner in 2014 was L.A. First Last Mile Metro Planning, where IBI Group worked with transportation and government authority to provide an active network-based strategy to improve access and ridership throughout LA county. 

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FirstLastMile LA_©www.ibigroup.comibi-projectsl-a-first-last-mile-metro-planning

Going from a small transportation infrastructure aspect to the city level is one of their ongoing projects, the Bhubaneswar Smart City Strategy, and Implementation. IBI’s smart city strategy for Bhubaneshwar led to the establishment of a 30-person management unit in the city’s development authority to produce the nerve center of the pan-city technology plan. 

Bhubaneswar Smart CIty Strategy Implementation_©www.ibigroup.comwp-contentuploads202011Bhubaneswar-Smart-City-Strategy-Implementation.pdf

Conclusion

This article only scratches the surface of the astonishing range of works the IBI group has in its portfolio. Their will to keep going by combining time-tested design and planning principles with technology and AI will undoubtedly make them even more successful. With many projects and debates about planning future cities, IBI Group has its sights set on the goal of designing with integrity and creativity while also fostering a community. In recent years, the business has increasingly aimed to deliver sustainable solutions in all aspects of life and design, citing the environment as one of its core principles.

References:

  1. Home. IBI Group, from https://www.ibigroup.com/
  2. Key lessons learnt from London 2012 added to Learning Legacy website.from https://www.insidethegames.biz/articles/1012634/key-lessons-learnt-from-london-2012-added-to-learning-legacy-website
  3. IBI Group , from https://www.ibigroup.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/11/Bhubaneswar-Smart-City-Strategy-Implementation.pdf
Author

A student interested in understanding people and their relation with spaces better, both through the built and unbuilt. She is fascinated by little things and wants to share that feeling with the world through her words.

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