Great Places Awards: Award Categories
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Nominations for the 2018 Great Places Awards are closed. Please join us at EDRA49, June 6-9 in Oklahoma City, to celebrate the winners!

2018 Great Places Awards | Submission Rules | Award Categories | Jurors | Download Brochure (PDF)

For complete details about specific information you should include in your submission, download the 2018 Great Places Awards brochure.


Place Design

Submissions can feature place design projects of various types and scales; projects can consist of an individual built element or cohesive groups of environments that work together as a unit. They can involve the design of something new or the reuse of existing resources.

Projects can be of any scale, from a local street to a civic boulevard, a community park to a regional greenway, an interior space to a room to a cluster of buildings and spaces.

Projects must have been completed within the last five years, but have been in existence for a sufficient period of time to enable assessment of how well the design responds to user needs.

What issues do the jury consider?

Places must be recognizable as distinct within a larger fabric of relationships—they should help improve their setting by advancing a larger vision, repair an unsatisfactory relationship, or add something that a previous design failed to provide.

Designs submitted should involve a place that is meaningful to a community, consider an issue of social, cultural, or ecological importance, or demonstrate how the design is configured to serve a broader constituency and provide enduring benefits.

Designs submitted should illustrate the potential to enhance quality of life of a wide range of user groups.

Submissions should address the design project context and significance; the design project process — illustrating response to human-needs research, human perceptions, citizen participation; relation of process to design outcomes; and both the focused and broader impact of the design project.

Submit a Nomination

Place Planning

Any plan generated within the past three years that makes proposals for the future use, management, or design of a place can be entered — including master plans, issue/ component-specific plans or elements, management plans, vision documents, or charrette proposals, as long as people-place consideration and well-being is a central focus of the plan/process.

Plans can operate at a range of scales, from a specific area, such as a cluster of buildings, a campus or neighborhood, to a region. They can consider a variety of issues, such as urban design, preservation, social equity, environmental management, transportation, accessibility, community development, facilities programming, and community visioning.

Plans must have been sponsored by an external organized entity — such as a public agency, community group, or private business or institution. Plans should be available for public review and input, but they need not have received official approval.

What issues do the jury consider?

Plans should address the context of how specific places or activities operate within a larger fabric of spatial, functional, economic, political, environmental, and cultural relationships. Plans should involve places of public, environmental, or social significance, consider issues of social and environmental importance, and/or be configured to expand the constituency for a place especially to those groups that are often underrepresented in mainstream planning processes. Plans should indicate clear, relevant and innovative methods/processes. They should incorporate effective strategies for participation and communication amongst stakeholders, involving affected constituencies in formulating the plan and conveying the plan’s significance to those whose involvement and commitment will be necessary for achieving the plan goals and objectives.

Even if the plan goals have not yet been realized, the planning process should have demonstrable outcomes that indicate progress towards achieving the stated outcomes. They should result in specific design, management, or policy initiatives; broaden and strengthen the constituency for the place; attract additional resources to the place; or enhance the discussion about or perception of the place. The emphasis of an entry should be to clearly describe the process that led to the final plan.

Submit a Nomination


Place Research

All types of research about the design and use of people-centered places completed within the past three years can be entered — including (but not limited to) projects that:

  • Document the physical, emotional, or perceptual experience of places or landscapes
  • Employ evaluations of the use or management of recent projects or established settings
  • Introduce novel approaches to studying place that are relevant to environment-behavior explorations
  • Deal with pressing, timely issues and conditions of place
  • Are based upon cultural history of a place or research on place-based sustainable practices, among many others that are place-relevant, and yield significant outcomes.

What issues do the jury consider?

Research projects should consider the relationship between existing or proposed physical form and human activity or experience. They should enrich our understanding of how people interact with places from a behavioral, social, cultural, or ecological perspective; how people experience places; or processes through which places are conceived, designed, occupied, and managed. Projects should consider places of public, social or cultural importance — such as market places, plazas, parks, squares and streets; campuses, religious, or commercial facilities; or offices, special housing facilities, or extended development patterns.

Research should demonstrate innovation and submissions should describe how the project breaks new ground. Projects should have broad applicability, informing design practice or teaching. The research methods, findings, and implications should be clearly documented and communicated. Projects should be clearly grounded in the context of recent literature and practice; they can revisit previous research, confirming, extending, or challenging earlier findings.

Submit a Nomination

Book Award

Any book published in the last three years advancing the critical understanding of place or design of exceptional environments can be entered.

The book may be primarily scholarly, practical, literary, critical, or visual. The book must be currently available to the public through bookstores, commercial websites, or direct purchase from a publisher.

Books may not be self-published. They must have been published for the first time in the last three years. They may not be re-edited or be re-released versions of older works.

What issues do the jury consider?

Books should be primarily about the experience, design, or understanding of place. They may be analytic, descriptive, documentary, or practice oriented. They may be about particular places; about people’s relationship to place, or about the qualities of place as an area of study. They may be edited volumes or individually authored works. The book should illustrate a mature research agenda that is informed by place-people centered theories and literature, communicates a sound approach, and informs of compelling outcomes/findings. The methodology used must be appropriate for the focus of the book, and demonstrate the refined realization of a stated research agenda, with perspective, theory, or findings that are applicable in the future practice of place-based design, planning, or research, and these must engage with and contribute to existing themes in the literature on place.

Submit a Nomination

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