Great Places Awards

The Great Places Awards are unique among programs that honor professional and scholarly excellence in environmental design.

Now in its 17th year, EDRA's Great Places Awards seek to recognize work that combines expertise in design, research, and practice, and contributes to the creation of dynamic, humane places that engage our attention and imagination. Award-winning projects reflect an interdisciplinary approach that is enduring, human-centered, sustainable, and concerned with the experiential relationship between people and their environment (built and natural) over time.


Download the 2015 Call for Entries brochure!


We invite participation from a range of design and research disciplines — particularly projects whose significance extends beyond any one profession or field. All submissions should show how research and/or public participation is linked to or part of an environmental design practice, and vice versa. Submissions should also demonstrate how an understanding of the experience of place may be used to generate insightful design.


We welcome submissions from the full breadth of environmental design and related research activities, including architecture, landscape architecture, planning, urban design, interior design, lighting design, graphic design, place-based public art, environmental psychology, sociology, anthropology, geography, and the physical sciences.


Each year we assemble a jury with diverse backgrounds in design, research, and practice. The jury evaluates how each project, no matter what the discipline, addresses the human experience of well-designed places. Special attention is paid to the transferability of research on this topic into design and planning practice. The jury will select exceptional submissions from four categories: place design, place planning, place research, and a book prize.


EDRA is excited to partner with Project for Public Spaces (PPS) for the 2015 Great Places Awards. PPS is a nonprofit planning, design and educational organization dedicated to helping people create and sustain public spaces that build stronger communities. Their pioneering Placemaking approach helps citizens transform their public spaces into vital places that highlight local assets, spur rejuvenation and serve common needs.


All submissions for the 2015 EDRA Great Places Awards must be electronically UPLOADED using the file transfer protocol below by 11:59pm ET on Monday, February 16, 2015. Entries and their supporting documents can instead be submitted on a CD/DVD and mailed to EDRA Headquarters, Attn: Great Places Awards, 7918 Jones Branch Drive, Suite 300, McLean, VA 22102, as long as they are RECEIVED by the deadline. No paper or late submissions will be accepted.


2015 Submission Process

  • Download the Call for Entries.
  • Click here to process the payment for your submission(s).
  • Upload your submission (entry form, written statement and supporting documents) using the secure file transfer service below, or mail a CD/DVD with all the materials to: EDRA Great Places Awards, 7918 Jones Branch Drive, Suite 300, McLean, VA 22102.

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Credit Card Payments: click here to go to our Online Store to process your entry fee.

Anu Mathur

Professor, Department of Landscape Architecture, University of Pennsylvania

Anuradha Mathur, an architect and landscape architect, is Professor in the Landscape Architecture Department. In collaboration with her partner, Dilip da Cunha, she has focused her artistic and design expertise on cultural and ecological issues of contentious landscapes. Their investigations have taken them to diverse terrains, including the Lower Mississippi, New York, Bangalore, Mumbai, Jerusalem, Varanasi, the Himalayas, and most recently the Sundarbans. An underlying thread in Mathur's work is a concern for how water is visualized and engaged in ways that lead to conditions of its excess and scarcity, but also the opportunities that its fluidity offers for new visualizations of terrain, design imagination, and design practice. In April, 2011 and 2012 she conceived and curated an international symposium titled In the Terrain of Water, at PennDesign.

Principal, Perkins+Will and Senior Advisor, Health Care Without Harm

Robin's innovative healthcare projects have been published nationally and internationally. Healthcare Design magazine named her the “#1 Most Influential Designer in Healthcare” in 2010.  In 2012, Fast Company included her as one of the “100 most creative people in business.” She was a TEDMED 2014 speaker. She serves on the USGBC Green Buildings and Human Health Task Force. She co-coordinated the Green Guide for Health Care, served on LEED for Healthcare committee, and released the second edition of “Sustainable Healthcare Architecture,” with Gail Vittori in May 2013. She is working with the US Dept of Health and Human Services on a Healthcare Infrastructure Resilience Toolkit.

Kathy Madden

Co-Founder and Director of Education and Training, Project for Public Spaces

Kathy Madden is an environmental designer who has been at PPS since its inception in 1975. During this time, Kathy has been involved in all aspects of the organization’s work. She has directed over 300 research and urban design projects along with training programs throughout the U.S and abroad. She also currently directs PPS’s Placemaking Training and Public Space Research and Publications programs.

Ray Gastil

Planning Director, City of Pittsburgh and Principal, Gastilworks

Ray Gastil is a city planner and urban designer, now City Planning Director for Pittsburgh. Initiatives include neighborhood planning, focused on strategic improvement and investments, resilient waterfront communities, and complete streets. He was planning director, Seattle, and Manhattan planning director, NYC, and was the founding director of Van Alen Institute, where he led exhibitions, publications, and design competitions, including Open: New Designs for Public Space and Beyond the Edge: New York’s New Waterfront. Earlier, he served as transit-oriented design director for Regional Plan Association. Recent publications include Success Looks Different Now: Design and Cultural Vitality in Lower Manhattan. He was 2011-2013 Chair in Design Innovation at Penn State, where his work included seminars, symposia, and studios on campuses, waterfronts, and urban innovation. Friedman Visiting Professor at UC Berkeley in fall 2013, he is serving as an Adjunct Professor, Master of Urban Design program, Carnegie Mellon University in 2015. 

Lynne Dearborn

Associate Professor, Illinois School of Architecture

Lynne M. Dearborn, Ph.D. joined the faculty at the Illinois School of Architecture in 2001 and is now Associate Professor of Architecture and Urban Planning. She currently serves as Chair of Architecture’s Health and Well-being Program and as Chair of the Ph.D. programs in Architecture and Landscape Architecture. Her graduate design studios focus on the creation of healthy and socially sustainable communities. Her research highlights adverse environmental and living conditions of low-income and other marginalized groups in the US and internationally and addresses questions of power and agency in seeking to advocate for more supportive environments for these groups. Through the use of community-based participatory processes and evidence-based practices, her design studios seek to ameliorate these unfavorable conditions in underserved communities around the world. She is the author of articles and book chapters on immigrant homeownership, the influence of subprime and predatory lending on low-income communities, and the effect of community-engaged learning on student outcomes. She is co-author with John Stallmeyer of Inconvenient Heritage: Erasure and Global Tourism in Luang Prabang (Left Coast Press, 2010). Her new book manuscript, Living Heritage as Economic Development: Entanglements of Hmong Modernity in Rural Thailand and the Diaspora, has been accepted for publication.