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Zhixi C. Zhuang

Associate Professor and Graduate Program Director; Director, DiverCity Lab
EducationPhD, MUPD, BArch, MCIP, RPP
OfficeSBB-416, South Bond Building
Phone416-979-5000, ext. 556767
Areas of ExpertisePlacemaking; Ethnic retailing; Community design; Multicultural planning; Revitalization and suburban retrofit; International urbanization.

I received my PhD from the School of Planning, University of Waterloo and received my master’s in Urban Planning and Design and bachelor of architecture from South China University of Technology. Prior to joining the university, I worked with the Regional Municipality of Peel and  practiced in the architectural and urban design fields in China and Canada. I am a registered professional planner and a member of the Ontario Professional Planners Institute and the Canadian Institute of Planners.

As an architect–planner, I have always been fascinated by cities and the interactions between people and urban spaces. This passion for city- and community-building has sparked my research interests that encompass community design, retail developments, urban revitalization and multicultural planning. Specifically, the various trajectories of immigrants’ settlement, adaptation, and integration processes in multicultural Canada fascinate me, and have led to my extensive research on how immigrant settlement affects urban landscapes, municipal policies and planning. One of my research focuses is on the rise of ethnic retail neighbourhoods as physical markers of increasing multiculturalism. I have obtained internal and external funding to explore numerous case studies of ethnic retail neighbourhoods in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA). I recently started a two-year Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council funded research project exploring placemaking practices in over 100 emerging suburban Chinese and South Asian retail clusters in the GTA. The research aims to explore how immigrant communities have shaped and transformed urban spaces, and vice versa. Effective placemaking strategies will be identified to help municipalities tackle typical issues related to land use, built form, parking capacity, economic development and community-building.

Teaching interests:

  • Physical planning and design fundamentals

  • Planning studios

  • Multicultural cities and planning policies

  • Senior research paper/project

  • Planning internship

  • Field research projects

  • Planning research design

  • Advanced theories of planning and design

Philosophy of teaching:

  • To help students realize their potential to grow and become autonomous learners

  • To provide students with applied cases of urban development within the context of contemporary city-building

  • To engage students in critical thinking around the capacity of the planning profession to respond to future urban challenges

Research interests:

  • Placemaking
  • Ethnic retailing
  • Community design
  • Multicultural planning
  • Revitalization and suburban retrofit
  • International urbanization

Selected publications:

  • 2017 Zhuang, Z. C. Creating Third Places: Ethnic Retailing and Place-making in Metropolitan Toronto, in N. Wise and J. Clark (Eds.) Urban Transformations: Geographies of Renewal and Creative Change. London: Routledge (forthcoming). 
  • 2017 Zhuang, Z. C. The Intersection of Place and Ethnic Entrepreneurship: The Role of Ethnic Entrepreneurs in the Making of Three Toronto Neighbourhoods. Journal of Architectural and Planning Research (forthcoming).
  • 2016 Zhuang, Z. C. and Chen, A. X. The Role of Ethnic Retailing in the Context of Suburban Retrofit: Case Studies from Toronto, Canada (external link) . Journal of Urbanism. (DOI: 10.1080/17549175.2016.1254671)
  • 2016 Zhuang, Z. C., Cooke, L., and Liu, P. Exploring Ethnoburbs. Ontario Planning Journal 31(1): 12-13.
  • 2016    Zhuang, Z. C. Planning for Diversity in a Suburban Retrofit Context: The Case of Ethnic Shopping Malls in the Toronto Area, in. R. Thomas (Ed.),Planning Canada: A Case Study Approach. Pp. 134-142. Oxford University Press, Canada.
  • 2015    Zhuang, Z. C. Construction and reconstruction of Ethnicity in Retail Landscapes: Case Studies in the Toronto Area. (external link)  Journal of Urban Design. 20(5): 677-697
  • 2015    Zhuang, Z. C., Hernandez, T., and Wang, S. Ethnic Retailing, in. H. Bauder and J. Shields (Eds.), Immigrant Experiences in North America. pp. 223-247. Toronto: Canadian Scholars’ Press.
  • 2013    Zhuang, Z. C. Rethinking Multicultural Planning: An Empirical Study of Ethnic Retailing. Canadian Journal of Urban Research. 22 (2): 90-116.
  • 2010    Zhuang, Z. C. & Hernandez, T. The Changing Character of Ethnic Retail: Case Studies within the GTA. Toronto: CSCA (Centre for the Study of Commercial Activity), Ryerson University.
  • 2010    Hoernig, H. & Zhuang, Z. C. New Diversity: Social Change as Immigration. Chapter in Bunting, T. & Filion, P. (eds.),Canadian Cities in Transition (IV): New Directions in the 21st Century. pp. 150-169. Oxford University Press.
  • 2009    Zhuang, Z. C. Ethnic Retailing and Implications for Planning Multicultural Communities. Plan Canada Special Edition.79-82.
  • 2005    Lo, L. & Zhuang, Z. C. Immigrants, Communities and Urban Planning. (English version) In B.M. Massam and S.S. Han (eds.), Urban Planning Overseas 2005: Special Issues on Urban Planning in Toronto, pp. 16-29, Toronto: Urban Studies Program, York University. (Chinese version) Urban Planning Overseas, 2: 11-17. Beijing: China Academy of Urban Planning & Design.
  • MCIP member, Canadian Institute of Planners
  • OPPI member, Ontario Professional Planners Institute
  • RPP, Registered Professional Planner