National Planning Awards 2011

APA's National Planning Excellence, Achievement, and Leadership Awards honor the best planning efforts and individuals that create communities of lasting value. The 2011 award recipients were honored at a special luncheon held during APA's National Planning Conference in Boston.

Award Winners

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Awards Ceremony

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National Planning Excellence Awards

The Daniel Burnham Award for a Comprehensive Plan

Comprehensive Plan for Tysons Corner

Fairfax County, Virginia

In 1960, Tysons was simply a country crossroad, but today there are 17,000 residents and 100,000 jobs. It is projected that by 2050, there will be 100,000 residents and 200,000 jobs in the area. The need for a new comprehensive plan rose out of the desire to transform a successful suburban employment center into a series of livable urban districts. Aiding in this goal is Metrorail's new Silver line that will bring four new transit stations to Tysons by 2013.

Public participation was a key component of creating the Comprehensive Plan for Tysons Corner. The task force appointed by the county board of supervisors coordinated public participation and held a series of community workshops and public outreach events that were attended by more than 2,000 citizens. The planning commission also held more than 50 public meetings to gather viewpoints from communities and landowners around Tysons Corner.

The plan includes a tiered approach to density that is focused around four transit stations, a long-term goal of reducing the jobs-to-household ratio from 13:1 to a more balanced 4:1, and incentives to reserve 20 percent of new housing units for moderate-income households, as well as innovative stormwater management facilities designed to retain at least the first inch of rainfall on site.

Transforming Tysons: Tysons Corner Urban Center Comprehensive Plan

National Planning Excellence Award for Best Practice

Miami 21 — Creating the Blueprint for the Miami of the 21st Century

Miami, Florida

In the past 10 years, Miami has experienced unprecedented growth. The city needed to address the city's historical sprawl and automobile-dependent and use-segregated communities. The new plan had to protect existing residential neighborhoods while accommodating downtown growth and growth along the city's commercial corridors.

For the first time ever in a major U.S. city, Miami 21 uses a form-based zoning code — a method of regulating development to achieve a specific urban form that promotes sustainable and livable communities. Such codes address the relationship between building facades and the public realm, the form and mass of buildings in relation to one another, transitions between different types and sizes of buildings, and the scale and types of streets and blocks. The code pays particular attention to interaction between the public and private realms, especially to encourage walkable and vibrant streetscapes.

Miami 21 website

Miami 21 Code

National Planning Excellence Award for Implementation

Spring Creek Greenway Master Plan

Joliet, Illinois

The Forest Preserve District of Will County's Spring Creek Greenway Master Plan is an ambitious and complex restoration project not only for the scale of restoration but the complexity involved in coordinating grants and various partners. Located approximately 40 miles southwest of Chicago, the Greenway serves as a gateway for the City of Joliet.

Through the ambitious plan, more than 800 acres of wetlands have been restored or had restoration begun. Approximately 139 acres of uplands have been restored, and 33,000 native trees and shrubs are being planted. The Greenway also helps protect a shallow aquifer that provides a significant portion of Joliet's water supply. The eight-mile multiuse trail opens up more than 1,900 acres of open space for public enjoyment in one of the most rapidly developing portions of Will County.

The Forest Preserve District planning department had to work with and leverage diverse partnerships to secure the funding necessary to implement the plan. Key to their success was the project's ability to meet the objectives of other public bodies while still achieving the district's restoration and recreation goals. By obligating more than $2 million towards the project from a public referendum, the district was able to raise an additional $10 million in grants and contributions from a variety of diverse partners.

Spring Creek Greenway Trail

National Planning Excellence Award for Public Outreach

SurveyLA Public Participation Program

Los Angeles, California

SurveyLA is Los Angeles's first-ever effort to identify, inventory, and document historic resources in the city. While Los Angeles has more than 900 local landmarks and 27 historic districts, only 15 percent of the city has been surveyed, leaving important resources at risk.

The program's determination to foster extensive public engagement in the survey process is integral to its success. Multi-lingual components are designed to engage communities in historic preservation, reach traditionally underrepresented groups, and provide meaningful and varied opportunities for the public to become directly involved. Outreach efforts include a website, quarterly newsletters, an Emmy-award winning education video airing on local television, DVDs distributed to neighborhoods in English and Spanish, multi-lingual information brochures, step-by-step guidebook, YouTube, Twitter, and a volunteer program that has already mobilized 200 volunteers.

Given Los Angeles's vast size — spanning more than 465 square miles and including 880,000 legal parcels — culturally significant resources might be missed using more traditional architectural survey methodology. As a result of SurveyLA, public participation will help to flag and protect hundreds of historic resources and historic neighborhoods that are largely unknown today.

SurveyLA website

SurveyLA YouTube Channel

MyHistoricaLA Guide to Public Participation in SurveyLA

National Planning Excellence Award for Innovation in Sustaining Places

North Shore Plan: Pa'ala'a to Kapaeloa

Honolulu, Hawaii

Kamehameha Schools (KS) owns 26,000 acres of land on the north shore of the Hawaiian island of Oahu, bequeathed to KS by Bernice Pauahi Bishop. Despite widespread development on Oahu, the North Shore has maintained its rural lifestyle. However, population growth is unavoidable. Residents wanted a plan to sustain the North Shore's rural lifestyle and values.

The planning team's commitment to community collaboration — from a Hawaiian perspective — began with meeting local küpuna (elders) to obtain their blessing on the open and collaborative process. The küpuna also participated in the process to ensure it was pono (proper) and honored the cultural legacy of Princess Bernice Pauahi Bishop. The collaborative process emphasized that KS and the community shared common values. As a result, citizens became unsolicited ambassadors of the plan.

Sustainable land management is the core theme of the North Shore Plan. The plan's vision statement, goals, and catalyst projects all integrate sustainability concepts. The plan places growth in the appropriate locations and has a strong agriculture emphasis that will help preserve the rural character of the North Shore while creating jobs for the community and revenue for KS.

North Shore Plan

North Texas 2050: For a Future that Is Better than 'Business as Usual'

Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex, Texas

The North Texas region, which encompasses Dallas and Fort Worth, is the fourth largest metropolitan region in the country. It covers more than 12,800 square miles and includes more than 200 individual communities. The region currently has six million people and is expected to grow to 12 million residents by 2050.

The plan creates a framework for innovative sustainable development and significant infrastructure investments. It uses a set of five geographic policy areas and eight investment areas to organize the recommendations so they relate to the unique characteristics and needs of each place within North Texas.

The collaborative nature of the process, as well as the political and regulatory context in which it was developed, make North Texas 2050 an important planning innovation and a model for sustainable planning in metropolitan areas without top-down regional planning directives.

The plan integrates recommendations for typical planning topics — land use, natural resources, transportation, housing, water and wastewater infrastructure, parks and open spaces — but at a 12,800-mile scale.

Vision North Texas

Best Practices in Hazard Mitigation and Disaster Planning

The City of Cedar Rapids River Corridor Redevelopment Plan

Cedar Rapids, Iowa

The City of Cedar Rapids began 2008 by naming it the "Year of the River," a title meant to reinforce the connection between the city and the Cedar River that runs through its core. This name took an unfortunate meaning in June of that year when the river crested 11.5 feet higher than any previous measure, and flooding forced thousands of evacuations and caused more than $6 billion in damage.

Within days of the flood, city officials, business leaders, and citizens mobilized to develop and implement two phases of the River Corridor Redevelopment Plan. The collaborative planning process created partnerships between community members, multiple city departments, the city council, and agencies ranging from the federal to the local level. The city and its residents have completed two phases of reinvestment and revitalization planning. Phase one, begun only days after the flood, was a four-month public process to develop a flood-management strategy. Phase two focused on creating plans for reinvestment in the flood-affected neighborhoods, including the downtown. An action plan was then drafted to guide reinvestment over the next 10–15 years.

Cedar Rapids Flood Recovery Progress

Planning Firm

Wallace Roberts & Todd

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Founded in 1963, Wallace Roberts & Todd (WRT) is a multi-disciplinary nationwide practice. With a reputation as a planning leader, the firm is known for its environmental responsibility and professional excellence. From its earliest days, WRT has been at the forefront of the planning profession. In fact, the first three projects the firm undertook remain milestones today: The Plan for the Valleys (recipient of APA's Planning Landmark Award in 2009), the master plan for Baltimore's Inner Harbor (winner of numerous awards), and the award-winning Lower Manhattan Plan.

Innovation has been a hallmark of the firm's planning practice. The development of the environmental planning method, the invention and application of the "susceptibility to change" analysis in urban planning, and the development of "values-based" planning are significant examples of the firm's influence on the planning profession. The firm also champions a collaborative practice, integrating planning with landscape architecture, urban design, and architecture, which results in a broad understanding of the implications of city and regional planning on the built environment.

Wallace Roberts & Todd, LLC

National Planning Achievement Awards

National Planning Achievement Award for a Hard-Won Victory

Plan for the 21st Century: New Orleans 2030

New Orleans, Louisiana

New Orleans adopted its first citywide plan in August 2010. The plan protects New Orleans but also builds a culture of citywide planning. Prior to passage of the plan, New Orleans had a long accepted culture of making development decisions through a political process that relegated planning to the sidelines. The challenges to create a citywide plan were many — racial tensions, skepticism, competition among neighborhoods for limited recovery resources, and the lack of existing citywide plans to build upon.

The planning team implemented a grassroots process of educating the entire community about planning, creating a culture that equipped residents with the tools to work and make decisions together. The team also built trust among elected officials, city staff, and community leaders that forged cohesive points of view. More than 5,000 people directly participated in the master plan, not only giving feedback but learning how citywide planning initiatives and data-backed policies are critical when reclaiming 60,000 vacant lots, boosting the city's environmental resilience, and diversifying the local economy.

When the draft plan was presented to the city council, a coalition of neighborhood organizations, business groups, preservationists, developers, and leaders of every race for the first time stood together to defend the plan they had created and embraced. The plan was unanimously approved by the city council.

New Orleans Master Plan

Advancing Diversity & Social Change in Honor of Paul Davidoff

Alvaro Huerta

Los Angeles, California

Alvaro HuertaRaised in East Lost Angeles by Mexican immigrant parents, Alvaro Huerta's experiences in turbulent housing projects and overcrowded public schools, fighting the daily pressure to join a gang and drop out of school, helped shape his life-long commitment to social justice, diversity, and service for the poor. He defied great odds to earn two degrees from UCLA, and he will receive his Ph.D. from UC Berkeley this spring.

Huerta is a positive role model for Latino communities and the planning field. He has mentored numerous individuals interested in pursuing urban planning educations. He is a visiting scholar at UCLA's Chicano Studies Research Center and a visiting lecturer at UCLA's Department of Urban Planning. He contributes op-ed columns for The Progressive, Los Angeles Business Journal, and the Santa Monica Mirror, along with numerous political and literary blogs.

Hard Work, Tough Lessons (Los Angeles Business Journal)

The Pierre L'Enfant International Planning Award

Kigali Sub Area Plans

Kigali, Rwanda, Africa

The most densely populated country in Africa, Rwanda is still healing from its tragic history of war and genocide and has undertaken an ambitious vision to become a model for sustainable development in Africa.

The Kigali Sub Area Plans concentrate on green systems including wetlands and urban parkland; water reuse, drainage, and rainwater harvesting; and sanitary issues such as sewers, recycling, and environmental treatment zones. The plan protects wetlands and steep slopes and encourages higher density and mixed-use developments. Four high-priority projects of the Kigali Sub Area Plans represent opportunities to rebuild and economically grow as a nation.

The sites include:

  • Rebero: Tthe former residence of the ex-president who perpetrated the genocide. This site is being renovated as a resort-conference center with a neighborhood support center.
  • Kimihurura: Kigali's gateway to the international airport, it will become the international face of Kigali. The sustainable urbanist design is symbolic of the new Rwanda and will include commercial space, hotels, a mixed-use residential neighborhood, and an extensive greenway system.
  • Kinyinya: Located in a newly urbanizing part of Kigali, it is envisioned as a town center that will serve as a prototype connecting sustainable urbanism to alleviating poverty and increasing social cohesion.
  • Masaka: Incorporates both large- and local-scale plans along with a prototype neighborhood that incorporates many aspects of sustainable urbanism that have been tailored to an African setting.

Kigali Sub Area Plans

HUD Secretary's Opportunity and Empowerment Award

Sherwood Village Senior Apartments

Salinas, California

The 5,000 square foot community room under construction.Nearly 80 percent of senior renters in Salinas pay between 30 and 50 percent of their income for rent. The City of Salinas General Plan and Consolidated Plan called for 300 new affordable senior rentals; however, few sites were available for new construction. CHISPA, a nonprofit affordable housing developer, saw potential in a 50-year-old motel.

After two years of planning, the once-blighted motel was transformed into 124 one- and two-bedroom affordable senior housing apartments for people ages 55 and older. Transforming the motel cost less than equivalent new construction in the area.

By conserving the core motel structure, tons of cinderblock was diverted from landfills. Approximately 75 percent of concrete and demolition waste was recycled, with a 95 percent overall diversion rate. Other sustainable efforts include tenant participation in a centralized composting of kitchen waste. Rainwater from the roofs is filtered underground through a bioswale before returning to the storm system.

Sherwood Village Project Plans (pdf)

Sherwood Village Tenant Testimonials

HUD Best Practice Case Study

Legislators of the Year

Robert MenendezU.S. Sen. Robert Menendez


Sen. Menendez's leadership and advocacy have been instrumental in ensuring that the nation's transportation, housing, and environmental agencies work together. He has championed innovative programs such as the Partnership for Sustainable Communities and Choice Neighborhoods at the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). Sen. Menendez has also been an advocate of transit and rail investment as well as advancing green building and location efficiency in federal policy.

Steven LaTourette

U.S. Rep. Steven LaTourette


Rep. LaTourette has been a long-standing advocate of transportation programs and his leadership within the House of Representatives exemplifies his commitment to good planning and investment in critical infrastructure as a means of improving our economy. He has championed Complete Streets legislation and has worked consistently to secure funding for the country's vital transportation needs.

AICP Student Project Awards

The 2011 Student Project Awards Jury: David Ortiz, AICP, chair; Jennifer Zadwick Carver, AICP; Mark E. Stivers, AICP; Susan M. Winchell, AICP; Jordan S. Yin, AICP

Applied Research

Lane County Local Food Market Analysis

Submitted by: University of Oregon

Student Research Team: Brie Becker, Hannah Bryant, Nicolas Garcia, Benjamin Hobson, Sarah Mizejewski, Schuyler Warren

Researchers in Charge: Bob Parker, Director, CPW & UO Economic Development Center; Tom Osdoba, Director, Center of Sustainable Business, University of Oregon

Project Manager: Kate MacFarland, CPW, Graduate Research Fellow

This report presents a comprehensive market analysis of the local food system in Lane County, Oregon. Its objective was to identify opportunities and barriers to strengthen and expand each component of the local food supply chain: production, processing, distribution, storage and consumption. Local food purchasing habits among institutional buyers (hospitals, schools, prisons) and their purchasing needs and requirements were also identified, areas which are often overlooked when examining the local food system. With particular concentration on increasing institutional purchasing, this study sets a new precedent for looking at how the local food system can be used as a tool for local economic development. No other study has been found that addresses this same set of metrics or offers such detailed implementation strategies to address identified gaps in the local food system.

Read the full narrative (pdf)

Read the final report (pdf)

Application of the Planning Process

The Watertown Community Path: Linking Watertown's Past to Its Future

Submitted by: Tufts University Urban + Environmental Policy and Planning

Project Team: Kristopher Carter, Eunice Kim, Michelle Moon, Jong Wai Tommee, Eric Giambrone

Faculty: Robert "Rusty" Russell, AICP

Client/Adviser: Danielle Fillis, Janet Jameson, Deborah Peterson

The report recommends creating a cycle track and extended sidewalk along parts of the Community Path where properties are already developed. Combining these design elements with a more traditional off-street path in other areas is an original approach to creating a path in an urban, built-out environment. Team members conducted an analysis of the existing conditions around the Community Path corridor. They examined the corridor in six sections and recommended both preferred and alternative routes for each section. Beyond recommendations, the report includes case studies, design standards, cross sections, conceptual designs, and short- and long-term implementation strategies. It also integrates numerous maps, cross-sections, conceptual designs and photos to visually represent the team's recommendations. In addition, a video presentation was used to share the recommendations with the wider community through the internet and cable television.

View the video

Read the full narrative (pdf)

Read the final report (pdf)

Town of Watertown Path website and report by chapter

Contribution of Planning to Contemporary Issues

Seattle Bike-Share Feasibility Study

Submitted by: University of Washington

Graduate Students: Jennifer Gregerson, Max Hepp-Buchanan, Daniel Rowe, John Vander Sluis, Erica Wygonik, Michael Xenakis

Faculty Advisor: Edward McCormack

This project analyzed the feasibility of a bike-share program within Seattle. The report was contracted by the City of Seattle and completed, as a studio class, by six University of Washington Urban Design and Planning graduate students. The student team developed an analysis framework, effectively utilizing experiences from other bike-share programs, that used GIS software and key bike-share demand indicators to quantify potential bike-share ridership in Seattle. This resulted in a series of maps that visually and clearly communicated ridership demand.  The students then evaluated a range of regulatory, policy, safety, and social justice issues that might be relevant to the operation of a bike-share program. On the basis of these findings, the project team concluded that bike-sharing could be successful in Seattle. However, some institutional and operational barriers would need to be addressed. With these barriers in mind, they developed a series of specific recommendations to the city that would help to ensure that a bike-share system would work.

Read the full narrative (pdf)

Read the final report (pdf)

Journal of American Planning Association Award

In recognition of the best contribution during the year to the scholarly journal of APA.

"Travel and the Built Environment: A Meta-Analysis"

Vol. 76, No. 3, Summer 2010
Reid Ewing and Robert Cervero

A meta-analysis is an increasingly popular technique for carefully reassembling and then reanalyzing the results of many empirical studies in order to draw deeper conclusions regarding a given empirical question. In the article chosen as the best of 2010 from the Journal of the American Planning Association, coauthors Reid Ewing and Robert Cervero took stock of possibly the most popular recent question in urban planning scholarship: What are the connections between urban design and individual travel behavior?


The 2011 National Planning Awards Jury was chaired by Marie York, FAICP.

Members of the jury were Marcel A. Acosta; Eugenie L. Birch, FAICP; Regina Gray; Seema D. Iyer; Julius S. Levine, AICP; Joseph R. Molinaro, AICP; Elizabeth Rairigh, AICP; and David E. White, AICP.

Read the biographies of the 2011 Awards Jury