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EDRA Achievement Award

EDRA Achievement Award

The EDRA Achievement Award is given to an individual, or to a group of people, in recognition of a significant contribution  made to the field of environmental design research. The achievement may take the form of a book or other publication, a design project, a research or design method, or a public service. The contribution may be a singular work or it may comprise a body of work.   


To be eligible for an achievement award, the endeavor--in the form of a single work or a body of work--should be innovative in a clearly demonstrable way: in methods employed, in ideas presented or in practices used. If the work was completed sometime in the past, the nomination should include evidence of its impact on the field of environmental design research. 

*All nominees must be EDRA members in good standing. Past recipients are not eligible to receive this award again. Current board members are not eligible for this award while in office. However, they may be nominated after three (3) years of leaving the board.

Nomination Process

Nominations by self or others are invited for this award.  Materials should be submitted in one PDF document and should not be more than 20 pages in length and 5 MB in file size.  The nomination packet must include:

  1. One page summary explaining the reasons for the nomination signed by three (3) EDRA members; and
  2. Additional supporting materials that illustrate the significance of the endeavor.

Separate from the nomination packet, we request the nominator(s) to include a publish-ready photo of the nominee and a short biography. These additional items should not exceed 5 MB in file size.

The deadline to submit nominations for 2020 has passed.

Achievement Award Nomination Form



2019 Achievement Award Recipient

Placemaking with Children and Youth: Participatory Practices for Planning Sustainable Communities 
by  Victoria Derr, Louise Chawla, and Mara Mintzer



An illustrated, essential guide to engaging children and youth in the process of urban design

From a history of children’s rights to case studies discussing international initiatives that aim to create child-friendly cities, Placemaking with Children and Youth offers comprehensive guidance in how to engage children and youth in the planning and design of local environments. It explains the importance of children’s active participation in their societies and presents ways to bring all generations together to plan cities with a high quality of life for people of all ages. Not only does it delineate best practices in establishing programs and partnerships, it also provides principles for working ethically with children, youth, and families, paying particular attention to the inclusion of marginalized populations. 

Drawing on case studies from around the world—in Australia, New Zealand, Canada, India, Puerto Rico, the Netherlands, South Africa, and the United States—Placemaking with Children and Youth showcases children’s global participation in community design and illustrates how a variety of methods can be combined in initiatives to achieve meaningful change. The book features more than 200 visuals and detailed, thoughtful guidelines for facilitating a multiplicity of participatory processes that include drawing, photography, interviews, surveys, discussion groups, role playing, mapping, murals, model making, city tours, and much more. Whether seeking information on individual methods and project planning, interpreting and analyzing results, or establishing and evaluating a sustained program, readers can find practical ideas and inspiration from six continents to connect learning to the realities of students’ lives and to create better cities for all ages.

Read Review by Robert Nichols, M.Arch, EDRA Board of Director (2018-2020) 

2018 Achievement Award Recipient

Cultural Landscapes of South Asia: Studies in Heritage Conservation and Management
edited by Kapila D. Silva and Amita Sinha

Cultural Landscapes of South Asia book cover

Cultural Landscapes of South Asia: Studies in Heritage Conservation and Management is a thought-provoking, compelling book that outlines an innovative integrated post-colonial approach to conservation of cultural heritage in the Indian subcontinent, one of the earliest inhabited regions of the world. The book adapts cultural landscape lens and strategies moving beyond the nostalgia and static artifact perspective of heritage and challenges the predominant views of south Asia heritage management, which rests in the shadows of its colonial legacy.

The book proposes the cultural landscape approach to rethink the idea of heritage, seeing it as place- making, thereby challenging conventional modes of preservation practice focused merely on historic buildings to the exclusion of their urban and socio-political context and ongoing people- place interactions. The work of fourteen authors, the eighteen chapters in this edited volume investigate case studies of historic places in six countries—Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Nepal, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka - and make the argument that the cultural landscape approach transcends conventional categories of heritage - material and intangible, natural and cultural—and integrates them into an overarching concept of places, enacted and reclaimed as sites of collective memories, and imbued with profound meanings. By highlighting the pluralism and diversity of South Asian Cultural Landscapes, the volume fills a vacuum in the body of literature and scholarship, which was long overdue.

This original contribution is of great value to environmental designers, researchers, practicing architects and landscape architects, preservationist, policy makers and planners involved in heritage. It advocates that prospects for effectively conserving and managing cultural landscapes in the region reside in five critical strategies: re-assessing the prevalent regulatory, institutional, and professional mind-sets on what constitute cultural heritage and to conceptualize heritage as place-making; increased localizing of the stewardship of heritage conservation; devising policy and institutional practices for collaborative governance of historic places; generating a broader and culturally-relevant understanding of authenticity and integrity dimensions of cultural landscapes; and formulating an integrative approach to sustainable heritage conservation as a tool for socio-economic development.

EDRA members environmental design researchers, educators, and professors Amita Sinha and Kapila D. Silva envisioned, managed, and authored chapters in the book which they also edited. The book in its structure frames further opportunities for future studies. Through its thoughtful approach, documentation, and analysis of theory and case studies, this book in its entirety brings new significance to this area of study, fills a significant gap, and affords opportunities for further explorations; for which we proudly award it the 2018 EDRA Achievement Award.

2014 Achievement Award Recipient

The Economics of Biophilia
produced by Terrapin Bright Green

“The Economics of Biophilia: Why Designing with Nature in Mind Makes Financial Sense” is a forty-page summation of a research effort that codifies several bodies of scientific study – in environmental psychology, neurobiology and epidemiology – into palpable, design-oriented concepts with aggregated financial impacts for individuals and society.

The whitepaper provides insights into how humanity’s biological connections with nature impact our health and wellbeing in the built environment and make the business case for incorporating biophilia – humanity’s innate affinity for nature – into the places where we live and work. It shares several examples of small investments in biophilic design that lead to very healthy returns: integrating views to nature into an office space can save over $2,000 per employee per year in office costs, and providing patients with views to nature could save over $93 million annually in national healthcare costs. These examples, based on scientific research, serve to demonstrate the financial potential for the large-scale deployment of biophilic design in hospitals – speeding up patient healing; in offices – boosting productivity; in schools – improving test scores and attendance; in retail outlets – boosting sales, and in communities – reducing criminality.

This approach to presenting the evidence for and value of biophilia has resonated with the design community. Since first being publicized at the US Green Building Council’s launch of the Center for Green Schools in 2012, “The Economics of Biophilia” whitepaper has been cited in a number of publications and enthusiasm for wider popularization has prompted requests for contributions to the World Green Building Council’s “Business Case for Green Building” report (2013), and the second edition of Sustainable Residential Interiors (Wiley, expected 2014). The white paper has been established as required reading for university courses and has been championed by various institutions from the Harvard School of Public Health Center for Health and the Global Environment in Massachusetts, to the International Society of Bio-urbanism in Italy. It has also gained international attention from practitioners in Latin America, Europe, and Australia; requests have been received for Spanish and French translations.

In addition, concepts from the white paper have encouraged one multi-national corporation to incorporate biophilia into their global design guidelines, which is supported by investment in experimentation and measurement for improved design development and implementation.

Finally, the U.S. General Services Administration facilitated a webinar for 200 of its employees on “The Economics of Biophilia”, and Lamin-Art Inc. has used the whitepaper to build the Continuing Education Unit “Human Impact of Designing with Nature”, which will have been delivered to architects, interior designers, building owners and developers in 80 different firms across the U.S. just in the last quarter of 2013.

The quality of thought and analysis invested in the research effort has positioned “The Economics of Biophilia” as a seminal piece in the global discussion of health, wellbeing and environmental design, making it an exemplary recipient for the 2014 EDRA Achievement Award.

Terrapin Bright Green is an environmental consulting and strategic planning firm committed to improving the human environment through high-performance development, policy, and related research. The firm represents an extensive global network of scientists, engineers, and technical experts on the leading edge of research in their respective fields, bringing a multidisciplinary perspective to planning, design, and policy questions.

2014 Place Attachment: Advances in Theory, Methods, and Applications

"Place Attachment: Advances in Theory, Methods and Applications" edited by Lynne Manzo and Patrick Devine-Wright

Place Attachment: Advances in Theory, Methods, and Applications, edited by Lynne Manzo and Patrick Devine-Wright, is a recipient of the 2014 EDRA Achievement Award.

Place attachment has been one of the most powerful concepts in environmental design research whose importance was widely understood and valued by both scholars and practitioners in the field of environmental design. The concept of place attachment contributes to a profound understanding and exploration of place as a social and cultural construct and a medium through which individuals and communities construct their relationships to the environment and one another. In recent decades, there has been a proliferation in the use of the concept to a variety of environmental design research and practice—from housing research to disaster responses. In the meantime, much has changed in the way the world around us is conceived and perceived. In particular, globalization along with movement and migration of people has profoundly impacted how people develop and construct their relationships with cities, communities, and places, and the meaning of such relationships.

With these profound changes in mind, Place Attachment is a timely and much-needed resource for environmental design research. Editors Lynne Manzo and Patrick Devine-Wright have assembled a stellar group of contributors who are recognized leaders in the field. By bringing together the latest thinking from these leading scholars across North America and Europe, the book vastly expanded our understanding of the concept across regions and socio-economic contexts while drawing parallel themes and shared lessons.

Place Attachment is divided into three sections: theory, methodology, and practical application. Within each section, contributors critically review the state of the art knowledge, identify significant advances, and point to knowledge gaps for future research. More than just theoretical propositions and discussion, chapters in the book also focus on the advancement of methods and applications that are relevant to a wider audience that consists of both scholars and practitioners. As place and place attachment is being given greater attention and recognition in an increasingly globalized and homogenized world, the book provides a highly useful intellectual toolkit for scholars to develop a more nuanced approach to research and for practitioners to develop a more informed approach to design, planning, and policy-making.

Place Attachment is unique in exploring applications of place attachment theory and research to such topics as global climate change, mobility studies, public housing redevelopment, intergroup conflict, natural resource management, environmental criminology, pro-environmental behavior, and civic engagement. In examining such applications, this text demonstrates critical ways in which place attachment wok has real-world implications for planning, housing, public health, and natural resource management policies, and we proudly award it the 2014 EDRA Achievement Award.

Lynne C. Manzo is an environmental psychologist and Associate Professor at the University of Washington’s College of Built Environments, Seattle, Washington, USA. She specializes in the study of place meaning, attachments, identity, the politics of place, and the experience of displacement in the context of public housing.

Patrick Devine-Wright holds a Chair in Human Geography at the University of Exeter, UK, and has researched the relevance of place attachments and place identities for understanding “NIMBY” (Not In My Back Yard) controversies over the siting of energy technologies.

2013 Inconvenient Heritage

"Inconvenient Heritage" by Lynne M. Dearborn and John C. Stallmeyer is 2013 Achievement Award Recipient

“Inconvenient Heritage” by Lynne M. Dearborn and John C. Stallmeyer, is the 2013 recipient of the EDRA Achievement Award.

Lynne Dearborn and John Stallmeyer’s project “Inconvenient Heritage” examines the processes and products associated with UNESCO’s inscription of Luang Prabang, Laos to the list of World Heritage sites. This is the first comprehensive study of Luang Prabang to examine issues of social justice and human rights in the listing and subsequent implementation of world heritage planning and policy processes of the “state’s parties” through interlinked analyses of the physical and socio-cultural environments. Luang Prabang, Laos was inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List in 1990 because of its unique urban form and architecture, fusing traditional Lao vernacular and French Colonial building traditions. The study, and the book which followed, incorporates systematic documentation of the physical environment of Luang Prabang’s historic peninsula and a thorough comparison of the current environment documented prior to the inscription by UNESCO. It examines and documents the activities of everyday and spiritual life that occurs in this world heritage city and which are threatened by the increasing number of international tourists who visit the city.

By asking the questions “who benefit from World Heritage Inscription?” and “Who and/or what is excluded in the process of packaging Luang Prabang’s heritage for the global tourism market?”, Dearborn and Stallmeyer address emerging concerns in heritage studies and in the heritage industry about moral ground rules and cultural and human rights of local citizens in the World Heritage Inscription process. The perspective they bring to the current debate about whose heritage is represented at World Heritage sites around the world has provided a theoretically well-grounded and systematically researched case study for use by those who suggest that the current top-down process for UNESCO World Heritage listing often violates a community’s right to define its identity as mirrored in this cultural heritage. This represents an innovative conception of cultural heritage as linked not only to the sacred and monumental but also to the quotidian environments in placed like Luang Prabang.

“Inconvenient Heritage” demonstrates excellence in both thought and analysis. It employs a novel theoretical frame that joins heritage, and human and community rights, with dimensions of the physical, social, and cultural environments. Through its careful documentation and analysis of the physical and socio-cultural environments and links with previous work in both environment behavior and heritage studies, it brings new significance to this area of study, for which we proudly award it the 2013 EDRA Achievement Award.

Lynne M. Dearborn is an associate professor of architecture and urban planning at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and the Co-Director of Action Research Illinois, a public engagement project in the College of Fine and Applied Arts. Through her research, teaching, and service, Professor Dearborn seeks to identify and ameliorate inequitable and deleterious environmental conditions experienced by marginalized groups in the U.S., Africa, and Asia. Her graduate design studios focus on the creation of healthy and socially sustainable communities. 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. With Professor John Stallmeyer, she is co-author of Inconvenient Heritage: Erasure and Global Tourism in Luang Prabang. She is current developing a book manuscript titled Living Heritage as Economic Development: Entanglements of Hmong Modernity in Rural Thailand.

John C. Stallmeyer is an associate professor of architecture at The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Professor Stallmeyer’s research and teaching focus on contemporary urban and architectural production and consumption under the influence of information and communications technology. His graduate design studios focus on the influence of ICT on the design process exploring the integration of digital sketching and modeling environments combined with analog methods in a hybrid process. He also teaches the graduate survey of architectural theory, which contextualizes key theoretical writings on the built environment of the last century within their cultural, social, political, and economic contexts. He is the author of Building Bangalore: Architecture and Urban Transformation in India’s Silicon Valley and coauthor with Prof. Lynne Dearborn of Inconvenient Heritage: Erasure and Global Tourism in Luang Prabang. He has authored numerous articles on the links between globalization and the built environment. He is currently working on a book exploring the influence of our ubiquitous data culture on the conception and perception of the built environment.

2010 Jack Nassar, Wolfgang F. E. Preiser, and Tom Fisher

Jack Nassar, Wolfgang F. E. Preiser and Tom Fisher have been awarded the 2010 EDRA Achievement Award

Jack Nassar, Wolfgang F. E. Preiser, and Tom Fisher have been awarded the 2010 EDRA Achievement Award for the book, Designing for Designers: Lessons Learned from Schools of Architecture.

This award is given in recognition of their research project and resulting book, which advances the field of environmental design research through the generation of knowledge. Preiser and Nassar combined their expertise in aesthetics, building evaluation, and participatory approaches with Fisher’s expertise in architectural form and history to create a book that generates and advances knowledge in environmental design research, both in its innovative approach and findings. The case study research design yielded sixteen post-occupancy evaluations of buildings for schools of architecture from around the world, built from 1976 through 2007. This study offers a model of low-cost distributive research with broad application for a host of other design research questions and facility types. This book begins to build a systematic knowledge base on the aesthetic, technological or functional performance of this building type to guide the designs. Because these buildings share many functions with other buildings, the evaluations have broader application by creating guidelines for the future. The evaluations also underscore a division among architects, clients and society in general about the extent to which the public often does not share architectural values, creating a potential conflict between freedom of expression and how well designed buildings should perform. The findings bridge that conflict.

Jack Nassar has published more than 80 scholarly articles on the planning and evaluation of places for human use (including post-occupancy evaluations, and research on design review, environmental meanings, cognition, fear, crime, and spatial behavior) as well as seven books: Visual Quality by Design (2008, ASID); Designing for Designers: Lessons Learned from Schools of Architecture (2007; Fairchild), Universal Design and Visitability: From Accessibility to Zoning (2007, Glenn Institute); Design by Competition: Making Design Competitions Work (1999, Cambridge); Directions in Person-Environment Research and Practice (1999, Ethnoscapes); The Evaluative Image of the City (1998, Sage); Environmental Aesthetics: Theory, Research, & Applications (1988, Cambridge). Widely cited by scholars, his research has also been covered by major media outlets, such as NPR and The New York Times.

He teaches graduate-level courses on human aspects of places, research methods for urban design, methods for programming and evaluating places for human use, environmental aesthetics, and a studio on neighborhood physical planning/urban design. He is on the editorial board of the Journal of Environmental Psychology, Journal of Urban Design, Architectural Science, and Research Design Connections, and has written for a popular audience as the architectural critic for The Columbus Dispatch and a guest critic for Landscape Architecture magazine. He headed the $200,000 Columbus Neighborhood Assistance Program for six years; received a $152,000 grant from the National Endowment for the Arts for the Universal Design Leadership Project Inclusive Environments for Inclusive Communities; a $150,000 Robert Wood Johnson Active Living Research grant to study African American Children and their parents perceptions and evaluations of routes and park and recreation areas for walking; and a $49,000 BETHA grant for Communicative Cities.

Wolfgang F. E. Preiser has accumulated over 40 years of experience in teaching, research and consulting, with special emphasis on evaluation and programming of environments, health care facilities, public housing, universal design, and design research in general. Recently, Preiser was Principal Investigator for the Facilities Master Plan for the Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County. He has received many awards and Fellowships, including two Professional Fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, two Progressive Architecture Research Awards, the EDRA Career Award, and Achievement Award, and the Rieveschl Award for Scholarly and Creative Works. He has lectured worldwide at 37 universities in the United States and Canada, and 73 universities/venues and professional associations overseas. An international building consultant, Dr. Preiser is co-founder of Architectural Research Consultants, Inc., Albuquerque, New Mexico. Preiser has edited and written numerous articles and books, including Facility Programming; Programming the Built Environment; Post-Occupancy Evaluation; Building Evaluation; Pueblo Style and Regional Architecture; Design Intervention: Toward a More Human Architecture; Professional Practice in Facility Programming; Design Review: Challenging Urban Aesthetic Control; New Directions in Urban Public Housing; Directions in Person-Environment Research and Practice; Universal Design Handbook; Improving Building Performance; and Assessing Building Performance. He is Associate Editor of the Journal of Environment and Behavior and serves on the editorial boards of Architectural Science Review, Ultimate Home Design, and Research Design Connections. He is a member of the Environmental Design Research Association (former Vice-Chairman and Secretary), the Society of Human Ecology (USA, Co-Founder, and President, 1979-86), and the International Association for People-Environment Studies. He has served on national committees with the American Institute of Architects, the Building Research Board of the National Academy of Sciences, and the National Institute for Disability Rehabilitation Research.

Thomas Fisher is a Professor and the Dean of the College of Design at the University of Minnesota. Prior to his tenure at the University of Minnesota he held various editorial positions for Progressive Architecture and as Director of Project Management for Jeter, Cook & Jepson, Architects. Fisher has published numerous books and book chapters including Architectural Design and Ethics: Tools for Survival (2008), Lake/Flato Architects (2005), Salmela Architect (2005), and In the Scheme of Things: Alternative Views of the Practice of Architecture (2000)

2009 Susan M. Goltsman & Daniel Iacofano


The Inclusive City: Design Solutions for Buildings, Neighborhoods, and Urban Spaces Edited by Susan M. Goltsman and Daniel Iacofano

2009 EDRA Achievement Award was given to the book, The Inclusive City (MIG Communications, 2007) edited by Susan M. Goltsman and Daniel Iacofano at EDRA’s 40th annual conference on May 30, 2009 in Kansas City, Missouri. The authors of this book outline a people-centered approach to design and planning of the built environment that provides a bold alternative to the forces of New Urbanism. The challenges of today's cities will not be overcome unless the social issues underlying them are addressed alongside the physical environment.

To achieve a more equitable city, the authors lay a policy framework that addresses economic development, neighborhood revitalization, education, access and mobility, habitat protection, safety, community, and cultural meaning. Illustrated by fourteen elegant case studies of successful urban developments that have benefitted local residents, this book is a model for practitioners, academics, students, neighborhood organizations and government officials.

The National Endowment for the Arts provided key funding for the book as well as workshops and lectures to promote the vital message of The Inclusive City. In addition, the multi-media approach to disseminating this book includes an interactive CD as well as a webpage that reaches a broad audience of those concerned with the urban environment. The book provides hands-on guidelines for partnering with local residents to create the spaces that they will inhabit and in the process build places that are socially, culturally, and environmentally responsible.

In the eyes of the awards jury, this book embodies the very principles of the Environmental Design Research Association. The authors of The Inclusive City, Susan M. Goltsman, FASLA and Daniel Iacofano, PhD, FAICP, ASLA are founding principals of the award winning firm Moore, Iacofano, Goltsman, Inc. (MIG) based in Berkeley, California. The firm has over twenty-five years as a leader in creating inclusive urban environments using community participation, facilitation and collaboration. To learn more about The Inclusive City book, please see the project’s web-page: