CNU Announces 2017 Charter Awards

Lisa Schamess, Monday, May 22, 2017

On May 5, The Congress for the New Urbanism (CNU) announced the winners of its annual Charter Awards, given for excellence in architectural, landscape, urban, and regional design that helps build more equitable, sustainable, connected, healthy, and prosperous communities.

CNU recognized sixteen professional and student design projects across the United States and in Mexico, Spain, and South Africa. The awards were announced at a ceremony culminating CNU’s annual Congress, a 4-day event that brings together as many as 2,000 people to discuss, debate, engage, and advance the principals of New Urbanism.

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. 

This year, the professional grand prize went to William Rawn Associates’ transformation of the inward-facing Boston Public Library into an open, inviting community resource. The student grand prize was awarded to the Ubuntu in Umbumbulu village planning project in eThekwini Municipality, KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa; a student architecture project from the Urban Design Studio of Andrews University, initiated by Wandile Mthiyane and prepared by him and his eleven international classmates, under the supervision of Professors Andrew von Maur and Troy Homenchuk.

Fourteen other projects were also recognized for addressing challenges such as affordable housing, rising sea levels, community disruption by major highways, and small-scale interventions to quickly make major roads more walkable.

“These are designs that have a very real impact on people’s lives,” said Lynn Richards, President and CEO of CNU. “They demonstrate the value and flexibility of New Urbanist principles to combating important challenges, from climate change to the fragmentation of communities.”

CNU convenes a Charter Awards jury of distinguished designers, architects, planners and scholars who review entries and select winners. Applicants are judged on the extent to which they fulfill and advance the principles of the Charter of the New Urbanism, which defines the essential qualities of outstanding buildings and urban places.  

“The ideals of the Charter could be found at all scales [of the submissions],” said Stephanie Bothwell, chair of the Charter Awards Committee. “These ideals were not so much expressed in grand gestures but more in the designers’ efforts to be gracious neighbors, responsible caretakers, prudent resource managers, and careful observers. They had tried to allow the ordinary to become extraordinary.”

Read more at Public Square and see the complete list of awards below.

(Photo: The newly transformed Boston Public Library invites in light where it once turned its back on the street. William Rawn Associates.)

Grand Prize: Free to all | Boston Central Library Transformation

Community-oriented redesign for brutalist landmark building

Boston, Massachusetts, William Rawn Associates


Student Grand Prize: Ubuntu in Umbumbulu

Renewing hope from house to village

eThekwini Municipality, KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa, Andrews University, School of Architecture & Interior Design,  (Student Project)


Blue Water Workforce & Affordable Housing

Innovative design for affordable housing

Tavernier Key, Florida, DPZ Partners


Guide to Placemaking for Mobility

Reclaiming streets for people

Boston, Massachusetts, Stantec

Westside Atlanta

Revitalization rooted in place

Atlanta, Georgia, Thadani Architects + Urbanists

Building Durable Wealth

Redeveloping in-city freeway corridors

Providence, Rhode Island, The University of Notre Dame Graduate Urban Design Studio (Student Project)


Guadalupe Hirian: A New Town for Hondarribia

New town of timeless urbanism

Hondarribia, Spain, University of Miami (Student Project)


Envision Broadway Demonstration Project

Playful, tactical interventions for walkability

Nashville, Tennessee, Metro Nashville Planning Department


Keeping History Above Water

Harnessing civil engineering for preservation against climate change

Newport, Rhode Island, Union Studio Architecture & Community Design


Plan NoBe

Building on local assets for resilience

Miami Beach, Florida, Dover, Kohl & Partners


Park Van Ness

A gift of nature and architecture

Washington, DC, Torti Gallas + Partners


Parsons Alley

Building on the past, looking to the future

Duluth, Georgia, Kronberg Wall Architects


Plaza La Reina

A timeless and artful building

Los Angeles, California, Moule & Polyzoides, Architects and Urbanists

San Cristobal City Hall Renovation

Grand new plaza highlights history

San Cristobal, Chiapas, Mexico, C Cubica Arquitectos

Small Town Tactics

Test-driving a road diet

Avon, CO, Design Workshop


St. Joseph’s Redevelopment

Harmony of old and new is gift to city

Oakland, California, Van Meter Williams Pollack, LLP


The Storefront Theater

Artist’s innovation makes Main Street a town square

Lyons, Nebraska, Matthew Mazzotta

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