Who are we?

Sidewalk Labs is an Alphabet company tackling the challenges of urban growth. In partnership with Waterfront Toronto and the local community, we are currently designing a district in Toronto’s Eastern Waterfront. This joint venture, called Sidewalk Toronto, will blend people-centered urban design with cutting-edge technology to achieve new standards of sustainability, affordability, mobility, and economic opportunity.

Sidewalk Labs and the Public Realm

Sidewalk Labs believes that the public realm is the unique space in the city.  If technology is to improve urban life, it must make the public realm more usable, more pleasant, and more vibrant, without sanitizing or corporatizing it.  We have begun to imagine a set of ways that technology could do so, but we are only at the beginning of our thinking.

To drive Sidewalk’s work on the public realm, we are assembling a small but powerful team, including expertise in sensing, design, hardware, software engineering, and other fields to develop an agenda for how technology can improve urban public spaces.  The team will report to our Heads of Urban Systems and work closely with our Director of Design.

What is the role?

As Director of Public Realm, you will lead our thinking on how technology can be harnessed to make urban public space better, and lead the teams that turn that thinking into products that get used in, and by, cities.  

Working with your team, the Co-Heads of Labs, and the Director of Design, you will build on Sidewalk’s existing thinking about public space, and put your stamp on it.  You will develop values-based perspectives on what technology can do to make public spaces better -- which will challenge you to define what “better” means.  You will turn those ideas into a set of future solutions with near-term minimum viable products; and work with a product manager and the rest of the team to turn those ideas into products that cities will put to use.  Along the way, you will develop partnerships with managers of public spaces (both private and public), places where we will test and iterate our solutions. In some cases, you will interact directly with the public both to test our approaches and to see what they find compelling.

To be successful, you must understand the urban public realm deeply and be eager to see it improve.  At some point in your career, you have been responsible for some aspect of the public realm, and you understand the challenges that come with designing, managing, and maintaining spaces owned by all and shared by a wide variety of users.  You’ve focused as much, or more, on ongoing operations as on physical design choices.  You understand the very real issues of privacy, concern about commercialization, and the need for equity; and you see the opportunity that rethinking public space enables as well.  You maintain ongoing engagement with some aspect of the community of people who think about urban spaces.

What you need to be successful?

  • Domain expertise. You are recognized by others who design and manage urban space as a leading thinker, doer, and peer.  You know how parks, streets, plazas, and other spaces are governed and managed, at least in your own city and a few others.  You’ve been in, or around, the field of urban public realm management for a decade since finishing your education.
  • Urban values. You understand that the public realm is public, with all that means, but you also understand how commerce can make spaces better.  You understand that there is a centuries-old tradition behind America’s urban public spaces, but you are also eager to see change when it means improvement.  You can offer your explanation of what makes cities different from low-density places.
  • Product orientation.  While you may not have been in a product-development role in the past, you know the difference between policies, programs, and products.  You have a sense of what makes a product successful, and you are eager to use the next stage of your career in creating products.
  • Strong manager. You have managed complex projects with many internal and external stakeholders and have supported senior leaders. You’re able to think through, communicate, and develop next steps for your team and the organization.  You have several examples of outcomes that you have actually delivered -- even if not all of them turned out quite the way you expected.
  • Independent driver. You pick things up, are excellent at taking limited direction from managers, and run independently with those inputs. You’re quick to become a trusted resource across the team.

We are very excited to hear from you.

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