Charter Award winners enhance communities through excellence in urbanism

Fourteen projects that fulfill and advance the principles of the Charter of the New Urbanism will be recognized as this year’s best examples of New Urbanism when the 2005 Charter Awards are formally presented in a ceremony at CNU XIII in Pasadena on June 10.

The most diverse group of winners to date, they include:

• A dying mall converted into the vibrant downtown a city never had;

• Six projects located outside the US;

• A pair of high-density brownfield reuse plans for downtowns fronting the Great Lakes — one a cosmopolitan city with a vastly underutilized lakefront and the other a small manufacturing city hit hard by economic flight;

• A pattern book and a form-based code that are shaping and encouraging infill development in historic Southern cities with moderate income profiles;

• Innovative housing for “grand-families” made up of grandparents raising their grandchildren;

• An exquisite college campus carefully knit into the fabric of a city;

• A high-density yet still graceful example of transit-oriented development on an underused fringe-of-downtown property; and

• Five regional or city-scale plans with innovative approaches to place-making and sustainability.

In announcing the awards with chief juror John Francis Torti, principal, Torti Gallas and Partners, CNU President John Norquist said the winners demonstrate the power of work that insists on excellence both in architecture and in its relationship with its surroundings. “These projects show New Urbanism at work in the real world. They are about much more than pretty buildings. From Sydney, Australia, to Waukegan, Illinois, communities are adding value to the lives of their citizens.”

Norquist cited the example of the Beall’s Hill neighborhood in Macon, Georgia, where architects, planners, city officials, and two universities are guiding reinvestment using a form-based code and design guidelines that preserve and build on the neighborhood’s legacy of good urbanism. Jurors chose to recognize Ayers/Saint/Gross Architects and Planners with a Charter Award for their work on the code and guidelines. And with private housing and retail development, infrastructure improvements, and a Hope VI public housing transformation underway — all in ways that build character and neighborhood value — Macon Mayor C. Jack Ellis recently told the Macon Telegraph, “That’s the New Urbanism — to bring people of different races and different ethnicities and different incomes together back into an area. And that’s what cities are about.”

The seven-person 2005 jury recognized projects at three scales: 1) the region: metropolis, city, and town; 2) the neighborhood, district, and corridor; and 3) the block, the street, and the building. There was a student winner and a student honorable mention. The projects are:

The region: metropolis, city, and town

Chongming Island Master Plan, Shanghai, China, submitted by Skidmore, Owings & Merrill LLP: With a new bridge about to connect booming Shanghai and an entirely rural neighboring island, this master plan creates a framework for accommodating 800,000 new residents in compact cities and towns while preserving the island’s farming traditions and natural environment.

Crozet Master Plan, Crozet, Virginia, Renaissance Planning Group: This neighborhood-based master plan steers clear of sprawl with a pedestrian-oriented, compact form, adapting traditional planning principles to rural, rugged terrain in a way that allows Crozet to absorb growth and maintain local character.

Dasve Village, Maharashtra, India, submitted by the HOK Planning Group: The first Indian “hill station” in a century will create a functional city of work and relaxation for a diverse population while preserving wilderness and agricultural lands.

Getting it Right: Preventing Sprawl in Coyote Valley, San Jose, California, submitted by WRT/Solomon E.T.C.: This comprehensive advocacy plan for the last large tract of open land in San Jose provides the city with a model for accommodating 25,000 projected housing units and roughly 17 million square feet of office and industrial space in a community of real places, as opposed to the office parks, subdivisions, and surface parking lots envisioned under the current general plan.

Land Release Plan, Sydney, Australia, submitted by NSW Government: Instead of hanging urban neighborhoods off oversized highways and arterials, as is often the case, this land release plan for the two yet-to-be-developed areas of the Sydney Basin makes transit and a network of urban streets an integral part of the development process, creating a true framework for a series of mixed-use, walkable neighborhoods and towns.

The neighborhood, district, and corridor

Waukegan Lakefront Downtown Master Plan/Urban Design Plan, Waukegan, Illinois, submitted by Skidmore, Owings, & Merrill LLP: This 20-year master plan foresees revitalizing the moribund 200-acre downtown and 1,200-acre lakefront in Waukegan, Illinois, by tapping hidden assets and reconnecting severed neighborhoods within a strong urban and natural framework.

Beall’s Hill Urban Design and Architectural Guidelines, Macon, Georgia, Ayers Saint Gross Architects + Planners: By developing a set of graphic form-based codes and architectural guidelines, this project provides direction and recommendations for infill and redevelopment supporting a vibrant community.

Belmar, Lakewood, Colorado, submitted by Continuum Partners: The project transforms a dying 1960s, 1.4 million sq. ft. regional mall into a 3.5 million sq. ft. pedestrian-oriented, mixed-use downtown district — the downtown the city of Lakewood never had.

Westgate, Pasadena, California, submitted by Thomas P. Cox Architects, Inc. and Sares Regis: A 12-acre site currently dominated by abandoned industrial facilities and surface parking lots will be redeveloped into a pedestrian friendly, mixed-use neighborhood that extends the revitalization of Pasadena’s downtown.

East Bayfront Precinct Plan, Toronto, Ontario, submitted by Koetter Kim & Associates: The plan revitalizes 88 acres of underutilized downtown waterfront with sustainable, mixed-use development that establishes a new public destination as well as a true urban neighborhood.

Campus Åkroken, Mid Sweden University, Sundsvall, Sweden, submitted by Arken Arkitekter AB: The project creates a new home for Campus Åkroken, respecting the architectural traditions of the historic neighborhood in which the campus is located and integrating seamlessly with the Sundsvall’s local fabric.

The block, the street, and the building

A Pattern Book for Norfolk Neighborhoods, Norfolk, Virginia, Urban Design Associates: The city of Norfolk created a pattern book to enhance the quality and character of its neighborhoods while maintaining their rich and diverse architectural heritage. Whether remodeling a front door, adding a wing to an existing house, or building a new house, citizens now have a design guide to ensure architectural compatibility.

The Intergenerational Learning Center; Chicago, Illinois; Office dA: A housing development commissioned by the city of Chicago to address the growing needs of grandparents raising their grandchildren. While incorporating novel architectural forms, the design also responds to its context and serves to repair the city fabric.

Student winner

Charrette #1: Envisioning International Avenue, Calgary, submitted by Alberta University of Calgary: In partnership with government and civic groups, an interdisciplinary university studio developed integrated urban solutions for a major automobile-oriented thoroughfare to better support its ethnically diverse population, wide-ranging uses, and bustling pedestrian traffic. Student honorable mention: Buckwood Village, Greenville, South Carolina, submitted by Clemson University. This project design incorporates public spaces that connect key existing areas of a medium-scale metropolitan area. u