It all started when he was a child in Iran. With an architect for a father, Ali Torabi spent most of his time on construction sites. Ali has fond memories of sitting on piles of masonry brick while his dad finished up at work. These special moments are when Ali first realized how creative the construction industry could be.
“He always had a hobby on the side—which was our house,” Ali shares. “We would live in a house, then he would start building a new house, and once it was done we would move to the next one. We moved every few years, and he would kind of engage us in the whole design process.”
It’s no surprise that Ali chose to study architecture at McGill University. To him, it was a good marriage between the engineering aspects of construction as well as the design. Understanding both pillars is what helps Ali see the full scope of a project, and it’s something he recommends to those considering a career in construction.
“I find it useful for designers to do an internship or go see what it’s like to be on a construction site—and vice versa for construction workers to try design,” Ali explains.
A licensed architect through Ordre des Architectes du Québec, Ali now works as a Project Director for Ed Brunet and Associates Canada. His role lets him collaborate with all stakeholders in a project, using the creative and people skills he’s gained throughout his career.
We’re not so much putting the bricks together as bringing the people together to make something happen,” he explains. “Everybody has something to offer, and you have the ability to learn something from anyone.”
Just like how his dad would include him in projects growing up, Ali loves being able to show off his work to his kids as they walk around the city.
“There’s an enormous amount of satisfaction in seeing something [that you’ve helped build] that will essentially outlive you, and that has a strong physical presence in a city,” he says.
Ali is also a member of the Ottawa Young Constructions Leaders (OYCL), a networking group for people under 40 run through the Ottawa Construction Association (OCA). He’s passionate about helping young people find a career that motivates them every day.
“The industry has a wide range of possibilities in terms of what you can do,” he emphasizes. “I really believe that everybody can find something in construction that they’ll find interesting. It has something to offer everyone.”