Forests Ontario

News & Events

Music to our Firs

Posted: June 21, 2017

EllisDon’s band, the Ellis Dominators.

by Lana MacInnes

Photos courtesy of Rafael Correa

Famed architect, interior designer, and educator Frank Lloyd Wright always had the same advice for his students: “Study nature, love nature, stay close to nature. It will never fail you.” This is a shared perspective amongst many respected designers and builders, for whom nature is a source of inspiration which must be preserved.

So when, in 2013, I was tasked with establishing a spring client event for Smith + Andersen (S+A), I knew that giving back to the environment would be a cause that the entire architecture, engineering, and construction (AEC) industry would support. While exploring a few different options, I kept coming back to the idea of a music event. My husband, Cam, is a musician, and any time I’ve been to one of his “jam” sessions, the atmosphere was always so fun and electric.

Pulling all this information together, I concluded:

  1. There are many talented musicians in the AEC industry.
  2. This industry and these musicians truly care about giving back to the environment.
  3. It would be great if we could transform a typical client event into something that combines these two passions.

Thus “Eco Jam”—a benefit rock concert highlighting the musical talent hidden in the AEC industry—was born. The Principals at S+A deserve all the credit in the world for taking a big risk on an unconventional idea. Cam also deserves a big kudos. Not only did he inspire the event but, each year, he is instrumental (pun intended) in organizing the bands, a pretty important and exhausting piece of pulling off a concert.

Five years later, Eco Jam is the coolest annual industry event. Held during Earth Week, Eco Jam draws attention to the importance of trees to the construction industry, with proceeds going directly to tree planting initiatives across Ontario. For one night a year, performers are transformed from designers, engineers, and project managers by day, to musicians showcasing their talents to a packed room of their peers by night.

“The partners of S+A are so proud of what Lana and Cam have created for the industry. It’s much more than your typical business cocktail party. The excitement leading up to – as well as after – Eco Jam tell us that every part of this event, including the partnership with Forests Ontario, strikes a chord with our clients and colleagues.” -Kevin Sharples, Principal, Smith + Andersen

Both S+A and Footprint are committed to sustainable design and engineering. This commitment is central to, but also extends far beyond, our everyday work. Along with many leaders in the AEC industry, S+A supports responsible stewardship of trees not just in Ontario, but across the country.  From the very beginning, we wanted the donations from this event to go directly to planting trees, which is why we partnered with Forests Ontario. Through this collaboration, the Eco Jam event has planted more than 10,000 trees across Ontario in just the last five years.

This year, Eco Jam returned to the Mod Club in downtown Toronto and was the most successful event to date, raising funds to support the planting of 3,463 new trees. This achievement was due in large part to the many industry leaders who sponsored the event this year: EllisDon, Zeidler, Guild Electric Ltd., RJC Engineers, Plan Group, B+H Architects, Diamond Schmitt Architects, Entuitive, PCL Agile, Quadrangle, and Perkins + Will.

It’s been an absolute pleasure for S+A to partner with Forests Ontario for this beloved event each year, combining our shared passion for the environment with short-term fun and long-term growth.

For more information about Eco Jam, please visit the event website.

For more information about Smith + Andersen – who we are and what we do – please visit our website.

An Associate Principal at Smith + Andersen, Lana is a talented electrical designer, LEED Accredited Professional, and award-winning lighting designer.