Robert Ouellette


In 100 years we will either live in a much more refined world with cities so beautiful they cannot be imagined, or we will be decimated. Our choice.

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Architect, Urban Designer, City Strategist & Smart Urbanist

Robert is an internationally respected smart city strategist, designer, and chief digital officer for a massively changing world. Robert Ouellette coined the term “MESH Cities” with a mission to help distribute the methods and technologies that will shape the design of tomorrow’s responsive, sustainable cities. The term MESH City can be defined as the effect communications networks have on the use and design of cities. His insights into the overlap of design, information technology, and cities help organizations compete in a massively changing, energy-constrained world. Robert Ouellette’s market innovation, brand strategy, and corporate development skills have built multi-million dollar markets for the Cities of Toronto, New York, and Vancouver, Apple, Levi Strauss, Siemens, Boeing, Indigo, University of Toronto, and others. He is an award-winning digital entrepreneur, architect, urban designer, and environmentalist. He designed the market-disrupting VC-400 smart terminals—the iMacs of their time. Realizing the role advanced logistics technologies would play in the growth of Smart Cities, he learned energy efficient design at the Boeing Aircraft Co., where with two colleagues he sold the first production Dash-8 aircraft. His work on city design and branding earned a Toronto Urban Design Award influencing the Entertainment District master plan (while creating the solution Google now uses for Street View). As a status professor, Ouellette directed the University of Toronto’s Information Technology Design Centre (ITDC) from 1997 to 2001 where Smart City innovator Dr. Bill Mitchell of MIT advised faculty research.

The ITDC was the first academic Centre of Excellence for Alias. As a scholar he was nominated for the University of Toronto’s top academic award. His architectural thesis earned a City of Toronto Urban Design Award and influenced Toronto’s Entertainment District master plan. Robert holds an honours degree in Architecture from the University of Toronto, an Ivey MBA at Western University. He was a Gold Medalist, Nominated for Governor General’s Award for Academic Excellence, Recipient, Lieutenant- Governor’s Award for Design, AIA Henry Adams Medal for Design, and a National Newspaper Award nominee. A digital entrepreneur and senior manager, he directed a world first corporate social-networking site for Sony, Motorola, and Levi Strauss helping launch the careers of the Black Eyed Peas. In 2001 his campaign for Levi Strauss received the Revolution Award. In 2003, he launched Forum Bureau to build social media-driven insights and content. His online initiative to improve Toronto’s transit system sparked a crowd-sourcing event Harvard Business Review called a breakthrough business idea of 2008. As Vice-President of Special Projects and board member, he managed the Zerofootprint, ZEROprize and Re-Skinning Awards in partnership with the World Urban Forum. In 2009 he was invited by Canada’s Parliament to present his views on Bill C-300. He is the past Chair of the Sierra Club Ontario, Advisor to MaRS Discovery District, CEO of the Virtual Metropolis Inc., Expert Advisor and Fellow to the OCAD Strategic Innovation Lab. He is currently the Chief Advisor to the Clean Growth Funds.