Shabbar Sagarwala



Connect with Shabbar

A building has a life beyond its construction, a life that we can’t predict. It’s always wonderful to see how people use and activate the space, sometimes in ways that are completely unexpected.

I have managed award-winning design projects across East Asia, the Middle East, Australia, and North America, including urban precincts, multi-use developments, innovation hubs, and commercial interiors. After living in Asia for several years (Japan, United Arab Emirates, and Singapore), I bring almost two decades of professional expertise and six years of academic teaching and research experience back to Canada. It is a time of tremendous growth and opportunity in Toronto, and I look forward to contributing to the city’s progress.


My favourite part of the design process is seeing life brought into the built work. I take a very collaborative approach to design and seek opportunities to get my team involved in as much as possible to ensure they experience different aspects of architecture – from concept to construction administration. I have had some incredible mentors throughout my career who were very generous with their time and energy and am keen to pay this back by helping the next generation of architects to grow.


A project is a dialogue with many different constituents and stakeholders. As an architect, it is critical that we build this dialogue.


My Sectors: Arts & Culture, Commercial Mixed Use, Education & Research

My Services: Architecture, Lifescape, Master planning & urban design


We asked, Shabbar Sagarwala answered:


What have you achieved in your career that you are most proud of?

“I spent a lot of time in Japan and was studying there when the 2011 Great East Japan earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear disaster struck. A key professional milestone of mine was to get involved with organizing a symposium which brought together international researchers to develop approaches for disaster resilience and reconstruction. I later worked on a project in Kobe, which was devastated by the 1995 Great Hanshin Awaji Earthquake, to rebuild and revitalize the waterfront through the introduction of public facilities for creative industries and incorporate an elevated pedestrian deck with a tsunami break.


Another milestone was my recent work on a mixed-use redevelopment in Shibuya, Tokyo which encompassed over 2,700,000 SF within three towers, a podium with direct transit access on three levels, an elevated public thoroughfare, and several interior and exterior public spaces. It was impactful experiencing that level of connectivity and to be able to improve on transit accessibility in a project of that scale. Coming back to Toronto I’m struck by how Canadian cities are fundamentally built for and around the automobile. We are at a critical point now and need to move towards building a more human-scaled, transit-oriented, and sustainable way of life.”


What drew you to Kasian?

“Kasian is an innovative and collaborative firm with a reputation for professionalism. Their built work is extensive across sectors and gaining exposure to and learning from different specialties was attractive to me. I also see huge potential being in Toronto as it is developing so fast, with immigration rates increasing and investment pouring in, there are many opportunities to meaningfully contribute to the city’s future.”