Announcing the Recipients of the 2008 Charter Awards

Jury Selects 15 Projects that Set the Standard for Today's Urbanism

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The Congress for the New Urbanism announces the recipients of its 2008 Charter Awards, the annual prize honoring the best of the New Urbanism. The 14 winning professional submissions and one student/faculty submission were chosen by a seven-member jury of leading urbanists last month, with Andrés Duany serving as chair. In fulfilling and advancing the principles of the Charter of the New Urbanism, the projects reveal the power of well-executed urbanism to strengthen communities, achieve broader sustainability and create places worthy of respect and admiration.

The awarded projects are found in the U.S. and four other countries: the Bahamas, India, Saudi Arabia, and Scotland. Among US regions, the Southeast again had a strong showing, followed by the Midwest. All but one of the awarded neighborhood- and block-scale projects in the USA are built or under construction, and none are on true greenfield sites. Several projects directly address quality affordable housing design, including one HOPE VI development from Chicago and a national pattern book for affordable houses. Several projects bring well-executed, innovative housing types to unexpected locations, like small Southern cities.

Duany and other jurors said winning projects demonstrated excellence, often in the face of difficult contexts or other challenges requiring ingenuity to overcome. The awards will be presented on April 5, 2008 in conjunction with the 16th Congress for the New Urbanism in Austin. See images and descriptions of all awardees.

Altogether the 15 award winners -- including a student/faculty winner that won unanimous praise from jurors and favorable comparisons to many of the professional submissions -- make for an inspiring collection. They include:

• A cutting-edge regional plan for an area of the country where planning has become a matter of regional survival -- Southern Louisiana. The Louisiana Speaks Regional Plan by Calthorpe Associates integrates wetland restoration and persuasive plans to steer the growth and sprawl that threaten wetlands into livable cities and towns.
• An artful, environmentally minded 44-acre infill addition to a historic North Charleston neighborhood recovering from a military base pullout; it features an intricate, almost European street network, a carefully woven mix of uses and a range of housing, including affordable units as small as 600 square feet.
• A high-density, mixed-use town center near a Metro rail station in Rockville, Maryland -- a project that creates a satisfying square and other public spaces and sets a new standard for an increasingly common new development type, say jurors.
• An insightful and much-needed plan for seven miles of Philadelphia riverfront -- an area threatened by plans for gated or suburban-style development and now a prime opportunity to reverse the trend of regional greenfield expansion and encourage the reclamation of undervalued land along the shores.
• Two massive projects integrating new universities and new cities in parts of the world struggling with unsustainable development patterns. The King Abdullah University in Saudi Arabia provides a sustainable, walkable alternative to the energy-intensive spectacle of nearby Dubai. The new Vedanta University will address a severe shortage of university seats in India (1 seat for every 10,000 applicants) in a way that's truly Indian in spirit -- a plan featuring a simple "parti" of two overlapping circles inscribed within an oval.
• Two groundbreaking pattern books. The first pattern book specifically for affordable housing brings high-quality traditional design to the work of Habitat for Humanity -- and encourages broader acceptance of well-designed affordable homes in desirable established neighborhoods. Another new pattern book not only seeks to revive the living tradition of Bahamian architecture by answering the question "We do this because..." but also calibrates the regional vernacular to the LEED green building system.
• A project that significantly steps up density on both sides of Main Street in Woodstock, Georgia's historic central business district and creates a natural extension of the city's urban fabric in an area of intense urban sprawl.
• The redevelopment of public housing in Chicago to create a thriving renewed neighborhood of rental and for-sale units housed in a variety of venerable Chicago housing types such as 6-flat buildings, townhouses, and rowhouses.
• The thoughtful extension of a neighborhood main street in a historic section of Montgomery, Alabama, bringing new life and residents to underused surface lots.
• An infill project in Coral Gables, Florida that artfully revives the classical rowhouse with central courtyard.
• Two visioning and advocacy exercises that use strong urbanism and convincing architectural renderings to inspire a rebirth of troubled parts of two cities. One project envisions how prominent building renovations can bring grace and coherence to a blighted square, in the process showing historic preservation officials how to incorporate high-quality classicism in historic districts. The other casts needed attention on economically depressed Michigan City, Indiana, showing it how to capitalize on its valuable urban form and Lake Michigan location.
• A master plan for a large post-industrialized dock area of Edinburgh, Scotland, adjacent to the seat of the re-established Scottish Parliament. Replacing an existing master plan that suffered from a lack of variety and urban form and was set to create an unpleasant and somewhat dangerous neighborhood, the new plan uses new urbanist principles to create a place with an identity specific to the locality that will complement the character and facilities of the city.

The full list of winning projects (with location and submitting firm):

    REGION, METROPOLIS, CITY, TOWN SCALE:

Louisiana Speaks Regional Plan; Louisiana, USA
Calthorpe Associates
A Civic Vision for the Central Delaware; Philadelphia, PA
Wallace Roberts & Todd LCC
Vedanta University Master Plan; Orissa, India
Ayers/Saint/Gross Inc,
King Abdullah University of Science and Technology;Thuwal, Saudi Arabia
Hellmuth, Obata and Kassabaum (HOK)

    NEIGHBORHOOD, DISTRICT, CORRIDOR SCALE:

Woodstock Downtown; Woodstock, Georgia
Tunnell-Spangler-Walsh & Associates
Oakwood Shores; Chicago, IL
FitzGerald Associates
Rockville Town Square; Rockville, MD
WDG Architecture
Mixson Avenue; North Charleston, SC
I'On Group
Masterplan for Western Harbour; Leith Edinburgh, Scotland
Robert Adam Architects

    BLOCK, STREET, BUILDING SCALE:

The Vision for Marion Square; Charleston, SC
Fairfax & Sammons Architects
Atlantic & Pacific Development; Montgomery, Alabama
City Loft Corporation
Almeria Row; Coral Gables, Florida
de la Guardia Victoria Architects & Urbanists Inc.
A Pattern Book for Neighborhood Houses; United States
Urban Design Associates
A Living Tradition: Architecture of the Bahamas; The Bahamas
Mouzon Design

    ACADEMIC

The North End Plan; Michigan City, IN
Andrews University, School of Architecture

While meeting in Miami, the jury toured the Perez Architecture Center at the University of Miami and moved to recognize the Leon
Krier-designed building with a Jury Mention.

CNU thanks this year’s awards jury for its generous contributions of time and talent. Jury members are:
Andres Duany, Jury Chair
Principal, Duany Plater Zyberk & Company, Miami, Florida
Ben Bolgar
Director of Design Theory & Networks, Princes Foundation for the Built Environment, London, England
Victor Dover
Principal, Dover Kohl & Partners, Coral Gables, Florida
Geoffrey Dyer
Placemakers, Director of Canadian Operations and Principal and Urban Designer, Tsix Urbanists, Calgary, Alberta
Katharine Kelley
President, Green Street Properties, Atlanta, Georgia
Peter Park
Community Planning & Development Manager, City and County of Denver, Colorado
Karen Parolek
Principal, Opticos Design, Inc, Berkeley, California
Stefanos Polyzoides
Principal, Moule & Polyzoides Architects and Urbanists, Pasadena, California

Read more about all of 2008's Charter Awards winners.