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.
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 2019 and awards will be announced and presented at EDRA50 Brooklyn, the 2019 EDRA conference held May 22-26, 2019 in Brooklyn, NY. The winning entries will be on display throughout the conference and publicized throughout the year in various print and electronic publications.
- Place Design
- Place Planning
- Place Research
- Book Award
View Requirements Before Submission
Each entry must follow the specific submission requirements for its category as described, and must be submitted in English.
All proposals must be submitted online.
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.
2019 Book Category Winner: Interpreting Kigali, Rwanda: Architectural Inquiries and Prospects for a Developing African City by: Korydon Smith, University of Buffalo and Toma Berlanda, University of Cape Town, South Africa
While one-quarter of the world’s population lives in informal (“squatter”) settlements, there has not been a proportionate amount of environmental design research, urban planning, or architectural design in these contexts. This is particularly the case for urban sub-Saharan Africa, where populations are growing rapidly and where self-built urban settlements are anticipated to double in size within one generation. Interpreting Kigali, Rwanda, fills a major research gap and provides a bridge toward implementing sustainable solutions to neighborhood planning and housing design in a rapidly growing African city. The book grows out of a series of design studios based in Kigali. The work combines archival, historical, and field research with a young-but-growing body of work on informal settlements throughout the Global South.
2019 Book Category Honorable Mention: Making Places for People: 12 Questions Every Designer Should Ask by: Christie Johnson Coffin and Jenny Young, University of Oregon
Combining research and case studies, Making Places for People helps make the field of environment-behavior studies inspirational, relevant and accessible to a wide range of design professionals, academics, students, and laypeople. The authors explore social questions in environmental design, bringing perspectives from practice, teaching and research to challenge assumptions about how places meet human needs.
2019 Place Design Category Winner: An Intimate Exchange: Bridging the Divide between Refugees and Their Hosts. Submitted by: Daniel Winterbottom, University of Washington
There are an estimated 116,000 Syrian civil war refugees living in Sweden. Most have been re-settled in rural villages like Dals Lagden, living parallel lives to their Swedish neighbors. Segregated in their own neighborhoods, refugees often remain physically and socially isolated from the greater Swedish community. There are venues of mixing, sports being a good example, but integration has been a slow and arduous process. The project focuses on the universal human rituals surrounding food and bathing, namely the sauna, to bring these disconnected communities together. Participation in intimately held, shared rituals erodes barriers to social cohesion, cultural exchange and understanding and transforms individuals’ relationships to one another and the community as a whole. The site also functions as a gateway into the village, a village that lacked a community “heart” or commons. Visitors and locals alike are met with a space that is welcoming, active, egalitarian and based in practical needs and uses. In these shared endeavors, dialogue ensues and insights are gleaned reducing the perceptions of the “other”. Through this intentionally designed setting, stories are exchanged and friendships forged.
Mentors: Daniel Winterbottom, Luka Jelusic, Jonas Lilja
Dals Långeds Utvecklingsråd
University of Washington
Students from University of Washington, Rutgers and HDK-Steneby/Stenebyskolan
2019 Place Design Category Honorable Mention: Fowler-Clark-Epstein Urban Farm. Submitted by: Keith Zaltzberg, Regenerative Design Group
Firmly rooted in ecological design, the Fowler Clark Epstein Urban Farm responds to the social and environmental needs of today, while reviving the story and uses of a historic Boston farmstead. Built on a site that was slated for a housing development, this project came about through the work of multiple stakeholders, and is one of the first to implement the city’s zoning provisions to support urban farming. The goals were ambitious: to transform a neglected corner lot in Mattapan - one of the most under-resourced neighborhoods in Boston - into a beautiful, ecologically resilient, historically sensitive, accessible, and agriculturally productive landscape. Today, a dedicated staff works on site to grow food, train farmers, and build community.
2019 Planning Category Winner: New Beginnings Homeless Transition Village: A Permittable Settlement Pattern.
Submitted by: Stephen Luoni, Shawna Hammon, Ethan Kaplan, Charles Sharpless, Garrett Grelle, and Linda Komlos with the University of Arkansas Community Design Center; John Langham with WER Architects/ Planners; Steve Marshall with the Marshall Group of Northwest Arkansas; Kevin Fitzpatrick with the University of Arkansas, J William Fulbright, College of Arts and Sciences; Ken Overman with Omni Engineers; Leslie Tabor of Leslie Tabor Landscape Architects; Neal Morrison with Morrison-Shipley Engineers, Inc. and Mike Rusch with Serve Northwest Arkansas.
More than three million Americans experience homelessness annually. Emergency shelter capacity is limited while governments are unable to provide temporary housing. Informal self-help shelter solutions are now popular adaptive actions despite nonconformance with city codes. Unfortunately, most informal solutions have resulted in objectionable tent cities and squatter campgrounds where the local response has simply been to move the problem around. Working for sociologists holding expertise in homelessness and a homeless services provider, we collaborated with city officials and engineering consultants to develop a prototype transition village that replaces a tent city near downtown. The project plan prototypes a shelter-first solution (with wraparound social services) using a kit-of-parts that can be replicated in other communities. The village design reconciles key gaps between informal building practices and formal sector regulations, creating a permittable solution under most city codes.
2019 Research Category Winner: Alameda Creek Atlas. Submitted by Brett Snyder, Department of Design, University of California- Davis.
The place research represented by the Alameda Creek Atlas, is part of multi-pronged effort to build resilience to climate impacts in the watershed through planning and design for sediment transport and Steelhead Trout habitat. Engaging communities and stakeholders within the research and planning of the watershed supported the creation of a feed-back loop, whereby local experts shared broad and diverse conceptualizations of the watershed as a place to the design and research team, and project members then reflected these conceptualizations back to inform a constituency that might advocate for the necessary changes within the watershed.