Announcing the 2018 Charter Award Winners

Lisa Schamess, Sunday, May 20, 2018

Photo: Charter Award Grand Prize winner Crosstown Concourse in Memphis, designed by Looney Ricks Kiss

The Congress for the New Urbanism (CNU) has announced the winners of its 17th annual Charter Awards, which recognize exemplary projects by local government, developers, architects, urban designers and others engaged in revitalizing and creating coherent cities, neighborhoods, and metropolitan regions. The winners not only embody and advance the principles of the Charter of the New Urbanism—they make a difference in people's lives.

This year, CNU recognized eleven professional designs and three student design projects across the United States and in South Africa, England, Costa Rica, Argentina, and Iran. The awards were announced at a ceremony May 18, during CNU’s annual Congress, a 4-day event that brings together 1,500+ people to discuss, debate, engage, and advance innovations and strategies in city- and town-building.

Regarded as the preeminent award for excellence in urban design, the CNU Charter Awards have honored a select number of winners and honorable mentions since 2002. In 2018, the jury focused on a specific aspect of the Charter’s principles: projects that advanced equitable and inclusive placemaking.

“The winners show us how New Urbanism can open up opportunities for people, providing housing choices and transportation options, and repairing the social fabric through equitable, livable designs for many people, not just a select few,” said co-chair Maurice Cox, Director, Detroit Planning and Development.

The 2018 winning projects were recognized for imaginative and practical solutions to pressing community needs: affordable housing, biodiversity in cities, prioritization of people over cars, and creative uses of design to empower neighborhood residents living in poverty.

“Excellence in architecture and urban design is more than a beautiful building, street, or neighborhood,” said Lynn Richards, President and CEO of CNU. “It’s how a design improves the quality of lives of the people living, working, and playing in these areas. The best efforts are victories that may not be obvious but make a tremendous impact.”

This year’s grand prize, for example, went to the architectural, planning, and interior design firm Looney Ricks Kiss for its transformation of a once-derelict Sears distribution center in Memphis into Crosstown Concourse, a “Vertical Urban Village” that has attracted impressive partnerships and includes 265 apartments (20 percent of which are affordable housing) a public charter school, a YMCA, health care facilities, restaurants, shops, and a 425-seat theater. Most importantly, the project is creating new partnerships and community connections among residents, service providers, educators, and businesses.

Other winners include several designs to introduce affordable “missing middle” housing into affluent neighborhoods; the reintroduction of UConn into downtown Hartford to re-knit the downtown; a tactical urbanism project that created more public space in Miami’s downtown; and an innovative shared street in Chicago’s Uptown neighborhood.

The student grand prize was awarded to the Africa Drawn: 100 Cities, a much-needed compendium of drawings that offers a pattern book of pan-African urbanism, depicting the cityscapes of 100 African cities. This student project was sponsored by the University of Pretoria and Holm Jordaan Architects and Urban Designers. 

Jury co-chair Jennifer Hurley added: “In addition to inclusive placemaking, these projects demonstrate substantial achievements in implementation, moving beyond visioning to realize projects that preserve or create the very specific, local character of places.” Hurley is President and CEO of Hurley-Franks & Associates.

The Congress for the New Urbanism (CNU) is an international nonprofit organization working to build vibrant communities where people have diverse choices for how they live, work, and get around. We believe that well-designed cities and neighborhoods are crucial for our health, economy, and environment. We build places people love.

Our 2600 members are diverse global thought-leaders on design, development, policy, implementation, and activism. They work in communities across the world—from major urban centers to historic small towns. From our annual Congress to our strategic policy initiatives, CNU connects and empowers the professionals, leaders, advocates, and citizens building places where people and businesses can thrive and prosper.


List of the 2018 Charter Awards

GRAND PRIZE: Crosstown Concourse, Memphis, Tennessee
Transformation of a former Sears distribution center into full-service live-work community.
Looney Ricks Kiss

Argyle Shared Street, Chicago, Illinois
Expanding pedestrian public space.
site design group, ltd.

Biscayne Green, Miami, Florida
Tactical urbanism project broke through red tape to deliver public space in the heart of downtown Miami.
The Street Plans Collaborative

Davidson's Rural Area Plan, Davidson, North Carolina
Cultivating conservation and quality growth.
Town of Davidson, NC

LaFrance Walk, Atlanta, Georgia
Bringing “missing middle” and live/work housing into a residential area.
Kronberg Wall Architects

Strategic Investment Area Plan, Charlottesville, Virginia
Plan transforms former industrial stream valley into mixed-income, mixed-use district.
Cunningham | Quill Architects

Swann Wynd, Chattahoochee Hills, Georgia
Pedestrian priority in a walkable community.
Rhinehart Pulliam & Company

Sweet City: defeating the city-nature antagonism, Curridabat, Costa Rica
A plan to recover urban nature for a healthier city.
Municipalidad de Curridabat/Tandem Arquitectos

Tregunnel Hill, Newquay, Cornwall, England
Beautiful affordable housing built sustainably in a coastal town.
ADAM Architecture with the Duchy of Cornwall

UConn Downtown Hartford, Connecticut
A major institution connects to downtown.
Robert A.M. Stern Architects

The Village of Providence, Huntsville, Alabama
Suburban infill fosters community.

Student Projects

STUDENT GRAND PRIZE: Africa Drawn, South Africa
A pattern book of the diverse urbanism of African cities.
The University of Pretoria and Holm Jordaan Architects

A Future for the Past: urban revitalization of a historic inner-city neighborhood, Tehran, Iran
Contextually sensitive design for dilapidated neighborhood in a traditional sector of Tehran.
Sponsored by UC Berkeley, College of Environmental Design

A Framework for Empowerment, Buenos Aires
Empowering the community to self-build affordable housing and cultural cityscapes in the shanty town of 'Villa 31'.
Sponsored by UC Berkeley, College of Environmental Design