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Great Places Awards
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2019 Great Places Awards nominations are now closed

The Environmental Design Research Association, in partnership with Project for Public Spaces, presents the 21st Annual Great Places Awards.

2019 Great Places Awards | 2018 Winners | Submission Rules | Award Categories | Jurors

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.

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 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.

Award Categories

  • 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.

Submission Rules.

Submissions Portal

All proposals must be submitted online.

The Partner

PPS logo

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  


2018 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.

Kiryat-Sefer Park is the 2018 winner of the Place Design Award.
Designer: Ram Eisenberg

Kiryat-Sefer Park was built on a 1.2 hectare parking lot in the center of Tel-Aviv. This park was the result of 15 years of a community campaign against the building of a high rise residential complex on this site. The planning process included public participation over a span of two years with a multitude of stakeholders from different constituencies, followed by a year-long construction process.

Kiryat Sefer park is designed on the theme of an ecological and democratic park. The ecological feature includes several nature-related experiences like the delineation of the water cycle, a spring and stream flowing through open grounds and a wetland with biofilters. The democratic aspect is reflected in the community engaged planning/design process as well as the inclusion of a variety of spaces than can support varied activities, and different user groups. The park has become a meeting place for different groups in Tel Aviv and is a haven in the middle of Tel Aviv.

CPL150: Community Vision Plan is the 2018 winner of the Place Planning Award.

CPL 150 represent the planning process between the Cleveland Public Library (CPL) and a professional design practice to develop a Community Vision Plan for 13 of Cleveland Library’s 27 neighborhood branches. The plan sought to revitalize the neighborhood branches. It did so by recognizing that each neighborhood is unique and will need specific strategies to succeed. CPL150 represents the combined strategy for determining these neighborhood-specific needs, identifying opportunities, and building consensus among disparate user groups around what their local libraries can and should become.

The design team envisioned the branch experience in terms of four experience levels: building; grounds; neighborhood; and services. The planning process included public meetings, open houses, advisory committee meetings, targeted focus groups with youth and seniors and a widely distributed multilingual survey. Over three years, the design team produced detailed recommendations for each of the 13 branches, collected in four reports. Recommendations spanned design scales, including ideas for interior reconfiguration, architectural improvements, neighborhood connectivity, and system-wide services. As of 2018, after a successful public levy, the CPL is moving forward with their overall Branch Revitalization plan with CPL150 at the forefront.

This year EDRA awarded two Great Places Awards in the Book category.

Design as Democracy: Techniques for Collective Creativity is a 2018 winner of the Book Award.

Design as Democracy offers a fresh look at the approaches and tools designers are using to create places with the people who inhabit them. The book is at once about collaboration and also a product of collaboration. It is co-edited by six academics in landscape architecture, architecture and planning, who research and practice place-making through participation; but the book’s strength—like participatory design itself—comes from contributions made by over 50 leaders and emerging voices in the field.

The book starts with a deep commitment to social justice and inclusion. The book’s nine chapters progress chronologically, from predesign, to initial community engagements, through identifying issues, problem solving, and collective making. The closing chapters reinforce the need for prototyping, post-occupancy evaluation, and for making the most of the political role that design plays.

This book should have broad impact in fostering more democratic approaches to place-making across the design disciplines.

Creating Healthy Neighborhoods: Evidence-based Planning and Design Strategies is a 2018 winner of the Book Award.

This book tackles the question - How can the neighborhoods and districts where people live, work, and socialize be made healthier through planning and design? Drawing on empirical research, conceptual frameworks about how health should matter, and the body of professional and research knowledge about the planning and design process, Creating Healthy Neighborhoods, creates an evidence-based approach to both the process and substance of creating healthier places.

Structured around eight central “big ideas” or principles (importance, balance, vulnerability, layout, access, connection, protection and implementation); it provides a framework for thinking about the intersections between environments and health. The book makes 20 specific propositions that identify more specific areas of intervention. Proposing 83 concrete actions, it categorizes these by level of certainty—directly from research, informed by it, or general good practice. By engaging the complex interactions between health and environments for different kinds of people, as well as the process of making places healthier it points toward more nuanced treatment of this issue in the future.

View Past Winners




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