The 2015 Rudy Bruner Award for Urban Excellence Kicks Off

The biennial award honors transformative placemaking in the United States.

Last year's award winners
Clockwise from left: 2013 Gold Medalist Inspiration Kitchens – Garfield Park (Steve Hall/ Hendrick Blessing); Silver Medalists Congo Street Initiative (buildingcommunityWORKSHOP); Louisville Waterfront Park (Waterfront Development Corporation); The Steel Yard (Christian Phillips Photography); Via Verde—The Green Way (David Sundberg/Esto)

The Rudy Bruner Award for Urban Excellence (RBA) is a biennial design award that celebrates creative and innovative placemaking in the United States and advances conversation about making our cities better. Interest in cities is growing as more people are choosing to live in urban areas, prompting new approaches to related challenges as reflected by last year’s award results. Now, we are pleased to announce our Call for Entries for the 2015 award in this, the first post of our renewed Metropolis POV blog series.  

As our 2013 RBA selection committee commented, the future may be as much about “planting small seeds” as about “making big plans.” The medalists vividly illustrate the capacity of design to affect broader change in communities. They also reflect increased focus on sustainable development, healthy living, and smaller scale, DIY/maker approaches. Once again, the Bruner Foundation has assembled a panel of urban experts from across the United States who will identify outstanding examples of places notable not only for their design, but also their economic, environmental, and social impact in their communities. Our 2015 Selection Committee includes:

  • Mayor Mark Stodola – Little Rock, AR

  • James Stockard – Lecturer in Housing, Harvard Graduate School of Design, Cambridge, MA

  • Rebecca Flora – AICP, LEED ND-BD+C, Sustainable Communities Practice Leader, Ecology & Environment, Chestertown, MD

  • Larry Kearns – AIA, CSA, LEED AP, Principal, Wheeler Kearns Architects, Chicago, IL

  • India Pierce Lee – Program Director, Cleveland Foundation, Cleveland, OH

  • Mia Lehrer – FASLA, President, Mia Lehrer + Associates, Los Angeles, CA

The 2014 selection committee
Clockwise from top left: Mayor Mark Stodola, John Barros, Rebecca Flora, Larry Kearns, India Pierce Lee, Mia Lehrer

Our new committee members expressed their thoughts about the value of the award. “Unlike most awards programs, the RBA scrutinizes projects to a depth unheard of in architecture, recognizing that design impacts societies in unseen ways, ” said Kearns, project architect for 2013 Gold Medalist Inspiration Kitchens—Garfield Park. “This program shines a light on architecture’s potential to facilitate the building of human capital.” Lee discussed the professional benefits of participation: “I am always looking for best practices from other places to direct grantees. I look forward to the opportunity to not only learn from other places from around the country, but also to be part of the larger conversation of what people are doing with the urban core, addressing issues such as how we regenerate neighborhoods in an inclusive way.” And Lehrer focused on the end game: “In this era of unprecedented urban growth, there is immense opportunity for innovative and socially equitable design solutions.”

Now, we want to hear from you. Join in the urban placemaking conversation by submitting your project for the 2015 award using our new online application. The deadline is December 9, 2014. If you’ve entered before, you may be pleased to know that a printed application binder is no longer required for entry. We’ve enhanced access to our digital archive and case studies, and you can learn more about the 2013 winners in our recently published book, Inspiring Change: The 2013 Rudy Bruner Award for Urban Excellence, available online on our website.

In the months leading up to the 2015 RBA selection process, we’ll post a two-part Q&A with leaders from national design and planning organizations and explore the intersection of urban design and equity with our 2014 Bruner Loeb Forum on Design for Equity.

Meanwhile, help us spread the word about identifying and celebrating creative and innovation urban projects by sharing the 2015 Call for Entries with your colleagues and friends, and join our conversation on Twitter (@RudyBrunerAward) using the hashtags #urbanexcellence and #RudyBrunerAward. Next month, we’ll reflect on the impact of urban design today…and of the RBA.

Noteworthy news…

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Anne-Marie Lubenau, AIA, is director of the Rudy Bruner Award for Urban Excellence (RBA) for the Bruner Foundation in Cambridge, Massachusetts. An architect and advocate for educating and engaging people in design of the built environment, she is a graduate of Carnegie Mellon University and was a 2012 Loeb Fellow at the Harvard Graduate School of Design.

This post is part of a series written and curated by RBA that focuses on advancing the conversation about placemaking in American cities. The blog offers a detailed look at the 2015 award selection process and site visits, winners’ case studies, highlights from events such as the Bruner-Loeb Forum, and broader observations.  

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