John Zacharias


John Zacharias trained as an urban planner and urban designer at the University of British Columbia. He then joined the City of Vancouver's planning team as urban designer, helping prepare plans for the redevelopment of inner city areas at that time in industrial use. These experiences prepared him for his career interest in the relationships between human behavior and the planned environment. His doctoral dissertation at the University of Montreal focused on the Central Business District and included several chapters on interactions between people and land use, a theme he picked up in the 2015 book on The Chinese CBD. These interests in how people and activities adapt to planned environments and transport systems have led to research in a variety of settings, from shopping environments to local communities and to cities as a whole. In a fast-changing urban world with increasing choices of how we move around and use space, he believes it is important to construct a new approach to urban planning and urban design based on humanistic principles, that is, with people as the driving force. As a consequence, he rejects the application of traditional principles in planning and purely top-down policy implementation, in favour of a research-based approach to designing the environment. Some of his published research has investigated methods for developing a research-based practice. Other research has focused in particular on human environments, and on non-motorized transport systems within the larger mobility system of cities. He has published 53 articles in the leading SCI and SSCI journals, 45 of which as first author, 4 refereed books, 8 book chapters, as well as 57 conference and non-SCI journal papers.