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Announcing the Winners of the EDRA 2018 Great Places Awards

Jul 12, 2018
Jul 12, 2018

During last month's EDRA49 Conference in Oklahoma City, OK, four recipients were named winners of the 2018 Great Places Award for exemplary projects on design, architecture, urban planning, and research. In partnership with PPS, this annual award program is organized and run by the Environmental Design Research Association (EDRA).

The Great Places Awards recognize professional and scholarly excellence in environmental design, paying special attention to the relationship between physical form of the built environment and human activity or experience. Each year, EDRA assembles a jury with diverse backgrounds in design, research, and practice. The jury evaluates how projects across disciplines, attend to the human experience of well-designed places. This year's jury selected exceptional submissions from the categories of “place design,” “place planning,” as well as two book awards.

Here are some details about this year's winning projects:

 1. Kiryat-Sefer Park, by designer Ram Eisenberg, is the 2018 winner of the Place Design Award.

Visitors of all ages enjoying one of the wetland features of Kiryat-Sefer Park in Tel Aviv.

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. (Click here to watch a video on the life of the project.)

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

The CPL150 Community Vision Plan's Group 2 Report includes recommendations for four branch communities

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.

3. 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.

4. 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.

Congratulations to this year's winners!

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