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Dec 17 2021 Calls / Competitions /

National Urban Design Awards | Call for Submissions

Submission deadline: 11:59 p.m. EST, December 17, 2021

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Urban design plays an important role in maintaining and enhancing the quality of life in Canadian communities.

The Royal Architectural Institute of Canada, Canadian Institute of Planners and the Canadian Society of Landscape Architects – in cooperation with Canadian municipalities – work closely to promote awareness of that role. In 2006, the three groups established the National Urban Design Awards program to recognize individuals, organizations, firms, and projects in Canada that have contributed to the quality of life and the sustainability of Canadian cities.

The National Urban Design Awards program encourages the submission of multidisciplinary projects involving planners, landscape architects, architects, students, and other disciplines. The program recognizes the importance and impact of inter and multidisciplinary teams in enhancing the qualify of life in Canadian communities.

Categories

There are six different categories of urban design projects. One award will be bestowed for each category.  The jury has the discretion to change the category in which a project is submitted.

                           Urban Design Plans                     Urban Fragments

                           Urban Architecture                      Community Initiatives Award

                           Civic Design Projects                    Student Projects

Two Submission Options

a. Local Urban Design Awards

Municipalities with a local Urban Design Awards program (tier 1) will invite their Award of Excellence winners in 2021 to submit to the National Urban Design Awards Program.

b. Submissions at Large

Any individual or organization in a Canadian urban municipality can submit a project that is in conformance with the submission requirements. The best submission in each category will be considered, together with the winning projects from the local Urban Design Awards programs, in the adjudication of the medals. 

Category Details

1. Urban Design Plans

This category is for a plan or study of a significant area within a Canadian municipality that provides a development or redevelopment strategy for inspired urban transformation in the mid-to-long-term. Urban design studies, master plans, redevelopment strategies, and community plans with the potential for significant impact on the community’s sustainability or development, are eligible in this category.

The plan or study must have been completed after January 1, 2015.

Criteria for Award: The primary criteria for assessing the merit of the plan are:

  • Comprehensiveness – addressing a wide a range of factors affecting development including energy efficiency and other environmental factors;
  • Innovative approach – proposals that highlight new ideas and approaches to interventions in the city;
  • Clarity of presentation – understandable, readable and well-illustrated graphically

2. Urban Architecture

This category is for a building (or group of buildings) of high architectural standards which achieves urban design excellence through its relationship with its immediate surroundings because of its site, massing, and pedestrian amenities. The building will also contribute to defining a special relationship with the neighbouring urban fabric.

The project sits within the boundaries of a Canadian municipality and was designed by an architect. Special consideration will be given to buildings that also achieve, or are capable of achieving, a green building rating. This category is open only to registered architects and a license number or proof of registration is required.

The new building, renovated building, or complex of buildings must have been completed after January 1, 2015.

Criteria for Award: The primary criteria for assessing the merit of the plan will be:

  • Compatibility with the urban initiative;
  • Positive contribution to the public realm;
  • Architectural excellence;
  • Demonstration of the value of urban design – how the urban design plan directed and influenced the building

3. Civic Design Projects

This category is for civic improvement projects such as a park, public space, civil engineering or environmental infrastructure, street furniture, lighting, and other elements implemented as the result of an urban design plan or initiative.

The project is located within the boundaries of a Canadian municipality and was designed by an architect, landscape architect, or an engineer. This category is open to registered design professionals (architects, engineers, registered planners, and landscape architects).  A license number or proof of registration is required.

The project must have been completed or installed after January 1, 2015.

Criteria for Award: The primary criteria for assessing the merit of the plan will be:

  • Compatibility with the urban plan;
  • Positive contribution to the public realm;
  • Design excellence;
  • Demonstration of the value of urban design – how the urban design plan or initiative directed and influenced the space or the objects.

4. Urban Fragments

This category is for single, small-scale pieces of a building or landscape that contribute significantly to the quality of the public realm. The category includes small and modest elements such as street furniture, lighting elements, interpretation media, memorials, public art or other forms of intervention that contribute to the beautification, sustainability, enjoyment, and appreciation of the urban environment. Projects can be of a temporary (but not ephemeral) or permanent nature.

The project must have been installed after January 1, 2015.

Criteria for Award: The primary criteria for assessing the proposals will be:

  • Positive contribution to the public realm;
  • Design excellence;
  • Innovation and uniqueness of the element

5. Community Initiatives Award

This category is for any built project, however modest, initiated or implemented by a community-based organization that has enhanced the public realm. Examples may include streetscaping, public art, commemorative or interpretive installations, and environmental initiatives.

The project must have been completed after January 1, 2015.

Criteria for Award: The primary criteria for assessing the merit of the plan will be:

  • Broad community involvement – demonstration of how the community-at-large was involved and supported the improvements;
  • Positive contribution to the public realm;
  • Conceptual clarity and execution of the improvement;
  • Innovation and uniqueness of the built project

6. Student Projects

The category is administered through participating Canadian Universities. Submissions may also be made directly from a student enrolled in an accredited program in architecture, landscape architecture, or urban planning, in the past two years. Each school or individual student may forward submissions in the following categories:

  • A submission from a studio with an emphasis on urban design;
  • A submission as a result of a final project or an individual thesis.

Note: The entry fee does not apply to Students Projects.

Special Jury Awards

In addition, there will be two special jury awards selected from the submissions received in the following categories.

  • Sustainable Development Award: A project, from within any of the categories that the jury deems best demonstrates the principles of sustainable urban development, while also exemplifying sensitive urban design.
  • Small or Medium Community Urban Design Award: A project, from within any of the categories, situated in an urban centre of fewer than 500,000 inhabitants, that demonstrates the value of urban design in a mid-sized community.