The American Institute of Architects has unveiled the winners of the Regional & Urban Design category of the 2023 AIA Awards. Recognizing the best in urban design, community development, and regional and city planning, the awards seek to elevate an approach to urbanism that “accounts for the entire built environment, local culture, and available resources, modeling architecture’s promise and true value to communities.”
Winners from the 2023 edition range from a master plan for a school in Arkansas to a 15-mile landscape along the Pittsburgh riverfront. In selecting the five winners, the jury evaluated schemes along environmental, social, and economic strategies, including attention to localized circular economies.
The 2023 winners were as follows:
Completing the Loop, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
evolve environment :: architecture
Project excerpt: "A comprehensive vision for revitalizing 15 miles of Pittsburgh’s riverfront land, Completing the Loop is a master plan that articulates and advances the mission of Riverlife, a nonprofit dedicated to connecting the city’s neighborhoods with a world-class riverfront. It is the result of an 18-month-long community-centered process, and it clearly describes the steps needed to transform vacant, formerly industrial land to connect Pittsburgh’s celebrated three rivers with communities that have been historically cut off from them by highways and railroads."
Project excerpt: "The project follows a comprehensive master plan that was conceived in 2014 and it replaces nearly six acres of impervious surface parking with lawns, trees, and other plantings. Hundreds of parking spaces have been relocated underground, making space for an expansive new park and five new academic buildings that frame the university’s iconic Brookings Hall. Additionally, the project has greatly improved the connections between the campus and the 1,300-acre Forest Park that contains the Saint Louis Art Museum, the Missouri History Museum, and several other cultural attractions."
Railyard Park, Rogers, Arkansas
Ross Barney Architects, AFHJ Architecture/Planning
Project excerpt: "The project, steered through a robust community engagement process, has consolidated and linked new programs in a successful effort to recenter Rogers’ downtown area. The project kicked off with many workshops and open houses that relied on a series of participatory and visual tools. In addition to in-person programs, the team conducted public outreach through an online survey that garnered more than 1,000 responses, forming the basis of an analysis of key priorities for the park. The significant volume of data generated shaped the vision for the park and generated a sense that community members were a true, and critical, part of the design process."
Project excerpt: "The overarching plan, developed collaboratively among the team, surrounding community, and Thaden School’s leadership, explores how a school can serve a growing urban environment while grounding children in a longstanding regional agricultural identity. Early in the process, the team envisioned an 'urban pastoral' campus that marries urban development as a catalyst that energizes cities with historical respect for the region’s agricultural vernacular, particularly the regional farmstead."
Van Leesten Memorial Bridge, Providence, Rhode Island
Project excerpt: "Much more than a pedestrian connector, the bridge itself is a destination, offering multiple programming modes that spur new connections and social interactions among the city’s residents. A highly visual symbol of Providence’s renewal, the bridge embraces its responsibility of linking the Waterfront Park’s east and west by forming a public environment that harmonizes urban and ecological spaces."
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