Announcing the 2011 CNU Charter Awards Winners

11th Annual Charter Awards Honor Diverse Set of Projects Highlighting Best New Urbanist Practices

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As anticipation builds for this year's CNU19 conference, the winners for the 11th annual CNU Charter Awards have been announced. From a crowded field of over 100 entries from around the world, the jury has recognized seven professional projects and two academic submissions for excellence in urbanism. Accompanied by a $5,000 honor courtesy of The Oram Foundation Inc./Fund for the Environment and Urban Life, the grand prize for professional projects has been awarded to South Coast Rail Economic Development & Land Use Corridor Plan submitted by Goody Clancy. In the academic competition, first place, and its $1000 reward, also courtesy of The Oram Foundation Inc./Fund for the Environment and Urban Life, has been bestowed upon Strategies for Sustainable Skaneateles, submitted by the University of Notre Dame School of Architecture. All of the recognized projects, including an additional nine honorable mentions, will be feted June 2nd at the 19th annual Congress for the New Urbanism in Madison, Wisconsin.

In light of the Great Recession's slow recovery, nearly all of the projects selected for honors showcase a sensitivity to the economics of the times. Many of the award-winning projects highlight an unprecedented level of coordination between all levels of community stakeholders, acknowledging the complexity of the issues a majority of our localities currently face. By remaining dedicated to proven development principles in building quality, mixed-use neighborhoods, and advancing reforms in codes and other city policies, the Charter Awards recipients show how New Urbanists  are meeting today's challenges by emphasizing quality of life, safety and sustainability in our communities. 

South Coast Rail Economic Development & Land Use Corridor Plan, the grand prize winner from Goody Clancy, coordinates transportation investment with economic development, and in the process represents high-level collaboration between towns, cities, and regional and state agencies. The top winner for the academic award, Strategies for Sustainable Skaneateles, submitted by the University of Notre Dame School of Architecture,  sets out to preserve the rural character of the small, upstate New York town it focuses on, while at the same time incorporating innovative land-use constructions to increase the density of development. 

Two of the seven professional awards -- Saint Anne’s Square, Belfast and Seaside Town Square, Florida – seek to advance the evolution of public squares in already established cities and towns. Recent public protests in the Mideast, as well as in CNU19 host city Madison, WI, have reinforced the role of public space as a venue for civic discourse. The  Saint Anne’s Square project, which restores the historic fabric of Belfast after 30 years of political instability and extensive erosion of the built form, emphasizes the importance of creating lasting civic spaces even after the conflict has passed.

Mirroring the diversity of this year's entrants, other winning projects focus on locations from San Francisco to a college campus in San Antonio to a port city in Haiti. The winners are rewarded for embodying the 27 principles of livability and sustainability that form the core of the Charter for New Urbanism (cnu.org/charter).  Winners also respond to principles in a companion to the Charter, the Canons of Sustainable Architecture and Urbanism (cnu.org/canons). 

“The strongest projects this year were very sophisticated about design, policy and sustainability, yet very modest and pragmatic in their solutions," says this year’s Jury Chair Elizabeth Moule, co-founder of CNU and principal of Moule Polyzoides in Pasadena, California. "With the current state of the economy and the need to embrace the frugality of sustainability, projects that use limited resources towards ambitious goals will be most relevant to solving the problems of today and tomorrow. And as always, we continue to encourage the marriage between high design, careful craft and critical policy objectives.”

The winning projects are a testament to the adaptability of New Urbanist fundamentals to an extraordinary range of contexts and concerns. The June 2nd ceremony at the 19th annual Congress for the New Urbanism represents the best of these principles moving forward. Project descriptions and images of this work can be found at cnu.org/awards

Image: Grand Academic Prize winning plan from students of the University of Notre Dame School of Architecture weaves elegant and modest infill interventions into the historic fabric of a small town and village of Skaneateles, New York.