GREAT PLACES AWARDS
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2018 Great Places Awards Nominations will open soon!

The Environmental Design Research Association, in partnership with Project for Public Spaces, presents the 20th Annual Great Places Awards.

Submission Rules | Award Categories | Download Brochure (PDF)


EDRA Great Places Award

The Program

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

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 fields, 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.

Submissions will open in January, and all submissions for the 2018 Great Places Awards must be electronically UPLOADED to the submission site by 11:59pm ET on February 26, 2018.

The Process

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.

The jury will convene in early 2018 and awards will be announced and presented at EDRA49 Oklahoma City, the 2019 EDRA conference held June 6–9, 2018 in Oklahoma City, OK. The winning entries will be on display throughout the conference and publicized throughout the year in various print and electronic publications.

Award Categories

  • Place Design
  • Place Planning
  • Place Research
  • Book Award

The Partner

EDRA is proud to partner with Project for Public Spaces (PPS) in the 2018 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.

What Makes a Great Place



2017 EDRA Great Places Award Winners

The 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.

Mariahilfer Strasse, Vienna, is the 2017 Place Design Award entry submitted by Simona Serafino. This entry consists of the transformation of a fancy 19th Century shopping boulevard in Vienna into an inviting, pedestrian friendly avenue. This project is particularly noteworthy for its participatory process involving multiple stakeholders to build support for this transformation. During an initial phase, prototypes of the street furniture were placed to test the design as well as give users the chance to experience the changes being proposed. This also served to build support for the proposed changes to the street. As a result of this project, there has been a dramatic reduction of traffic, noise and pollution. The auto-dominated street has been transformed into a human scale shopping area. The street is inviting and beckons people to walk and bike and in the process promote active living. Half a year after the project completion, a significant majority of users are happy with the outcome. This project serves as a model for other human-centered shopping street renovations in cities.

Making Our Own Space (MOOS), is the 2017 Place Planning Award entry submitted by David Jurca. It is a planning project that empowers middle and high school students with the skills to transform their local public spaces. Led by a team of local and nationally-renowned designers in conjunction with the Cleveland Neighborhood Progress (CNP) and the City of Shaker Heights, Ohio, this initiative uses hands-on, on-site workshops to build physical and social infrastructure in collaboration with the surrounding community. Outdoor workshops organized by students addressed issues related to shared spaces, inclusive decision-making and helping to bring diversity to the design fields by involving youth from underrepresented groups. In response to the project, the city created a committee of staff, residents and councilpersons to increase leadership opportunities for middle and high school youth in Cleveland. The Shaker School District is exploring how to incorporate the MOOS peacemaking workshop into its curriculum. This is a great example of planning that involves youth in place making and community building.

Renewable Energy Landscape is the winner of the 2017 Place Research Award. This is an edited book (Dean Apostol, James Palmer, Martin Pasqualetti, Richard Smardon, Robert Sullivan) published by Routledge (2017). It reviews the existing literature on renewable energy and the cultural value of landscape that people inhabit. Against this backdrop, this book proposes a process for evaluating the (primarily visual) experienced effects of renewable energy projects on our landscape and proposes a more positive public decision making process. The authors developed research and policy recommendations that reflect international needs and priorities regarding integrating public input into large scale renewable energy projects and ensuring that their impact on the landscape is minimized. This book provides guidance to professionals who plan and design renewable energy projects, to decision makers who approve such projects, and to members of the public who are seeking to represent their own interests responsibly and at the same time to critique these projects in a constructive manner. In the era of climate change and global warming, the research represented in this book is particularly significant.

Designing for Autism Spectrum Disorders is the winner of the 2017 Place Book Award. The book is authored by Kristi Gaines, Angela Bourne, Michelle Pearson and Mesha Kleinbrink and published by Routledge (2016). The book aims to increase knowledge about the influence of natural and manmade environments on individuals with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) and other forms of intellectual/developments disabilities (IDD). Using a variety of methods (case studies, interviews with individuals, behavior mapping, picture preference survey, photo voice and survey of special education teachers) the authors identified environmental features that impact individuals on the autism spectrum. The book presents the findings in an accessible manner to enable practitioners to plan and design environments for a diverse range of individuals including ASD and other forms of IDD.


Project for Public Spaces

The Environmental Design Research Association, in partnership with Project for Public Spaces, presents the 19th Annual 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.

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