National Planning Awards 2013

APA's National Planning Excellence and Achievement Awards honor the best planning efforts and individuals that create communities of lasting value. The 2013 award recipients will be honored at a special luncheon held during APA's National Planning Conference.

National Planning Awards

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National Achievement Awards

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Award Winners

APA named 18 recipients of 2013 National Planning Excellence Awards.

National Planning Excellence Award Winners

Award Winners Slideshow

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Achievement Winners

Also honored were 12 recipients of first-ever National Planning Achievement Awards.

National Planning Achievement Award Winners

National Planning Excellence Awards

Daniel Burnham Award for a Comprehensive Plan

2040 Comprehensive Regional Plan: A Vision for Northwest Indiana

Lake, Porter and LaPorte Counties, Indiana

Capacity expansion transportation projects in Northwest Indiana selected for inclusion in the NIRPC 2040 CRPThe Northwestern Indiana Regional Planning Commission's (NIRPC) 2040 Comprehensive Regional Plan (CRP) represents the first broad planning initiative covering the counties of Lake, Porter and LaPorte. The CRP focuses on a variety of issues including transportation, land use, human and economic resources, and environmental policy objectives. The objective is to offer residents more transportation choices, and making the cities more sustainable and livable.

Cultivating community consensus and togetherness, the CRP planning process brought together citizens and stakeholders to gather input and ensure that the recommendations identified in the plan were realistic and implementable. This included targeted outreach and engagement among those not typically involved in the planning process.

2040 Comprehensive Regional Plan

The HUD Secretary's Opportunity and Empowerment Award

Owe'neh Bupingeh Preservation Plan

Ohkay Owingeh, New Mexico

View of Bupingeh, the southern Plaza after completion of Phase I and Phase II. Photo by Kate Russell PhotographyOhkay Owingeh is the first Pueblo tribe to develop a comprehensive preservation plan that guides practical housing improvements according to cultural values. The Owe'neh Bupingeh Rehabilitation Project is a multi-year, affordable housing, rehabilitation project within the historic core of the tribe's village center. Only 60 homes remain of the nearly several hundred that once existed. Most had been abandoned by 2005 due to deterioration.

The first two phases completed in March 2012, involved the rehabilitation of 20 homes and infrastructure of the full place. Families have been provided with quality, affordable housing that is culturally appropriate, and the effort has energized a tribal discussion of larger cultural preservation issues. 

Ohkay Owingeh Housing Authority and Pueblo Rehabilitation

Ohkay Owingeh, New Mexico: Tribal-Led Cultural Preservation

The HUD Secretary's Opportunity & Empowerment Award

Restoring the American City: Augusta's Laney Walker/Bethlehem

Augusta, Georgia

Rental apartments under construction by faith-based CHDO at East Mill Village, Laney Walker/BethlehemThe Laney Walker/Bethlehem Revitalization Initiative involves two historic African American neighborhoods and is a pioneering effort to reverse decades of blight and disinvestment and regenerate nearly 1,100 acres of Augusta's urban center. This decision to catalyze regeneration of Augusta's urban core was primarily driven by politics and the need to address a historically disenfranchised population. The project addresses a number of needs and community objectives outlined in the Augusta-Richmond County Comprehensive Plan, including affordable housing, access to jobs and services, open space, blight abatement, infill development, and preservation of local heritage.

The long-term revitalization effort is anticipated to provide housing for nearly 10,000 residents for a total investment of $2.8 billion, create 38,000 new jobs, and result in total investment into the local economy of $4.5 billion over the next five decades. 

Laney Walker/Bethlehem

National Planning Excellence Award for a Best Practice

Philadelphia's Integrated Planning and Zoning Process

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Promoting the continued growth and development of Center City Philadelphia as the region's 'Metropolitan Center' is a key concept of the Philadelphia2035 Citywide Vision. Courtesy of the Philadelphia City Planning CommissionThe Philadelphia City Planning Commission's (PCPC) integrated Planning and Zoning Process is an innovative approach to leveraging the synergy between citizen education, planning, and zoning reform. The PCPC coordinated three distinct planning activities — the Citizens Planning Institute (CPI), Philadelphia2035 (the city's comprehensive plan) and a new zoning code and map revision. Individually, these activities educated hundreds of citizens and professionals, and engaged thousands in envisioning the future of Philadelphia and improving the way development is regulated. Collectively, they created an environment that hadn't existed for 50 years. The city not only adopted a new comprehensive plan and zoning code, but did so in the same year and has moved forward with implementation.

The CPI is the PCPC's education and outreach entity and has 145 "citizen planners." Philadelphia2035, the city's first comprehensive plan adopted in more than 50 years, focuses on the themes of Thrive, Connect, and Renew. The zoning reform included both the rewrite of the city's 50-year-old code and multiple zoning-map revisions as recommended in District Plans.

Philadelphia City Planning Commission

National Planning Excellence Award for a Grassroots Initiative

Cathedral City's Environmental Conservation Division (ECD) Kids & Community Program

Cathedral City, California

S.C.R.A.P. works with kids at the Las Flores Apartment to give new life to an old fountain. The handmade flower tiles were made from recycle paper clayThe Environmental Conservation Division (ECD) Kids & Community Program is an environmental education and awareness project where young people conceptualize, design, plan and create hands-on environmental projects that help reduce landfill waste and beautify the landscape of Cathedral City. The program's goals include making recycling and conservation fun, preserving the beauty of the local environment, and encouraging youth to play an active role in community efforts. It engages youth within the community and offers a way to learn about the environment while being part of the solution.

The Kids & Community Program has allowed government staff to acknowledge the presence of an untapped resource in the arena of environmental and community affairs, which is the under 18 category. City youth have replaced unsightly graffiti on the Dinah Shore Bridge with a stunning mural, created sculptures from trash, planted school and community gardens, launched anti-litter campaigns, and started their own recycling program. An estimated 750,000 tons of trash have been removed from the waste stream and Cathedral City exceeded its requirement to divert 50 percent of waste, instead, diverting 60 percent of waste on an annual basis.

Cathedral City S.C.R.A.P Gallery

National Planning Excellence Award for Implementation

Central Riverfront Re-Birth Through Planning

Cincinnati, Hamilton County, Ohio

Close-up of the Main Street Fountain with the Moerlein Lager House in the middle-ground framed by the Central Business District in the backgroundThe Cincinnati Riverfront Plan converted 195 acres of a vast wasteland, between the Ohio River and Cincinnati's Central Business District, into an economically successful and vital, mixed-use development. The plan is a result of a public participation planning process that started in October 1996 with the collaboration of the city and Hamilton County together with Urban Design Associates, Parsons Brinckerhoff, and the OKI Regional Council of Governments to give direction in two public policy areas — two new sports stadiums and an overall urban design framework for the development of the central riverfront.

Reconstruction of a freeway that separated the project from the central business district recaptured land enabling two stadiums to be built and construction of the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center. Developing an innovative design enabled lifting the street grid and buildings out of the 100-year floodplain to above the 500-year flood level and tying it to transportation facilities and fronting it with an inviting riverfront park. The first phase is projected to return more than $276 million in annual economic impact once completed. The first six acres of a planned 45-acre public park, apartments for 300 residents (100 percent leased), and entertainment venues (retail space 89 percent leased), and creation of 900 jobs from both ongoing business operations and construction, now actively contribute to the liveliness of the neighborhood.

The Banks Public Partnership

National Planning Excellence Award for Public Outreach

Newberg 6th Grade Design Star Program

Newberg, Oregon

Design Star project example of a biosphereThe Design Star Program is a learning collaboration between the City of Newberg and local 6th grade students that has engaged students in city planning. The program started as part of the city's outreach efforts during National Community Planning Month and is now an annual collaboration between Newberg city staff and middle school teachers and has been integrated into the curriculum. The program teaches students about why things are organized a certain way in their city, and it allows them to think critically about both the positive and negative impacts of development, the need for jobs in the community, how to differentiate between city wants and city needs, as well as environmental impacts of commuting for jobs and recreation. It also teaches students mapping, writing, presentation, and teamwork skills.

City staff uses GIS mapping technology to show different parts of the community. They then lead a discussion on the difference between city "needs" versus "wants", favorite parts about the city and what Newberg might be missing to make it a great place to live. Students then create a development proposal for one of two vacant sites within the city and present their proposals to the class. Winning proposals are presented to city staff and elected officials.

Design Star Program

National Planning Excellence Award for a Communications Initiative

We Love Lake Oswego Video

City of Lake Oswego, Oregon

A citizen pointing out her neighborhood at the Connected Community SummitThe City of Lake Oswego created the "We Love Lake Oswego" video as part of its public outreach effort to educate and engage the community in the comprehensive planning process. The video objectives were to convey a compelling story about why to plan for the future, provide a clear, concise concept of what the comprehensive plan update is about, and offer inspiration for the community to participate in the planning process.

The video highlighted what residents love about Lake Oswego and reflected on how the past has and will shape the future. It brought together all parts of Lake Oswego, and aimed to engage those typically not involved in the planning process. It has been shown at more than 75 outreach events including city council meetings, planning commission meetings, neighborhood associations and business organizations. More than 2,500 community members have engaged in the planning process, many as a result of the video.

We Love Lake Oswego Video

National Planning Excellence Award for Transportation

StarMetro's Route Decentralization

Tallahassee, Florida

This picture illustrates the hub-and-spokes system versus the decentralized system in regards to trip pattern and travel timeFor years, StarMetro operated a hub-and-spoke transit system that brought all passengers to one central transfer location downtown. Riders were forced to unnecessarily travel through the central business district to get to work, resulting in extended commutes and overcrowding. A survey revealed that 93 percent of passengers were traveling somewhere other than downtown. StarMetro was tasked with decentralizing all routes at the same time, within its normal operating budget.

StarMetro staff spent five years preparing for decentralization. Public meetings and studies were used to understand the needs of the community. An employment density map was used as a predictor of transit ridership and initial routes were drawn to connect the areas of highest employment concentration. The new transit system reduced transfers at the downtown terminal by 30 percent; decreased total transfers system-wide by 14 percent; decreased the number of routes that share at  least one mile of service from 21 to two and increased ridership by 21 percent in December 2011.


National Planning Excellence Award for Environmental Planning

NYC Department of City Planning, Zone Green

New York, New York

Zone Green sees urban rooftops as a precious resource for energy generation, stormwater management, recreation, agriculture, and moreZone Green is an initiative to modernize regulations for greener buildings. It is a coordinated package of zoning amendments, city legislation, and state legislation that promotes the construction and retrofitting of greener buildings. The regulatory changes adopted through Zone Green affect all categories of buildings throughout New York City, from single-family detached homes to high-density office buildings. It also gives owners and builders more choices for investments to save energy, save money, and improve environmental performance.

The goal is to reduce the city's carbon emissions by 30 percent by 2030. To do so, new and existing buildings must become more efficient, particularly since existing buildings make up 85 percent of the structures in the city by 2030. The building restorations look to improve energy efficiency, management of storm water, and contributions to the city's ecology. The improvements are expected to save builders and building owners' energy, money, and improve environmental performance. 

NYC Zone Green

National Planning Excellence Award for Urban Design

Lancaster Central Market: Assessments, Guidelines, and Recommendations for Preservation and Development

Lancaster, Pennsylvania

Central Market - 'After' - interior overall view from north wall, showing improved day lighting, new lighting fixtures, enhanced visibility of superstructure, reduced vendor stand heightsThe Lancaster Central Market: Assessments, Guidelines, and Recommendations for Preservation and Development guidelines was created after a comprehensive study of the Lancaster Central Market that connected the importance of architectural preservation, urban development history, and cultural heritage, to present planning and development decisions. The Central Market is on the National Register of Historic Places and was named by APA as one of the Great Public Spaces in America. The study of the Central Market that resulted in the planning guidelines was a regional first, producing a historical-architectural report to guide building renovations, before decisions were made for a capital improvement project.

The guidelines document and explain the market's historical, cultural, architectural, and urban design significance. It explains the relevance of architectural and preservation standards in relation to the market's ongoing economic vitality, and also serves as both a permanent public record and educational tool. In addition to analyzing the Central Market's historical attributes, the manual's development and policy guidelines have helped refocus the market's operations toward securing the city's food supply and reaffirming the market's economic connection between the region's agricultural producers and its urban consumers. 

Lancaster Central Market History

The Pierre L'Enfant International Planning Award

The Valsequillo Initiative

Puebla, Mexico

Solid waste and water pollution, two of Valsequillo's most pressing environmental issuesThe Valsequillo Initiative is a planning effort not only to improve the quality of urban areas growing around the Valsequillo Reservoir and increase opportunities for area residents and remediate decades of environmental degradation, but it also aimed to unify urban and environmental planning for the first time. Four years ago, the 58,000-acre Valsequillo region was set to become a new mega-development, a companion city to Puebla, Mexico's fourth largest urban area. Development proposals would have reduced the value of the area's ecological resources and displaced indigenous communities, small farmers, and communal landholders.

The initiative's goals were to improve the quality of urban areas growing around the reservoir, increase employment opportunities, remediate decades of environmental degradation while avoiding conventional approach of increasing residential and industrial areas through infrastructure expansion and rapid urban development. The planning process halted unplanned and rapid urban development; helped protect Valsequillo's communities and environmental assets; and demonstrated a model of inter-agency collaboration; and giving local residents for the first time, a means to express their concerns and impact their own futures. As a result, numerous volunteers, communities, and groups have worked to restore the environment and create educational projects throughout the region.

Chronology of the Valsequillo Initiative

Advancing Diversity & Social Change in Honor of Paul Davidoff

YWCA Central Alabama

Birmingham, Alabama

Woodlawn's vacant Accu-Mart was renovated to house the new Family Resource CenterThe YWCA Central Alabama undertook a multimillion-dollar urban neighborhood revitalization effort called YWoodlawn. The YWoodlawn Plan was a collaborative empowerment initiative intended to reduce poverty and hopelessness within an underserved area of Birmingham through reinvesting in the neighborhood; providing innovative housing for families experiencing homelessness; introducing affordable transition housing for families; bringing health, education, and employment-based services to the community's doorstep; and reintroducing homeownership opportunities in a stable, growing community.

Between 2007 and 2011, YWCA Central Alabama completed three major components of its YWoodlawn project including: a permanent housing initiative with 58 housing units, eight of which are entirely ADA accessible rental units; the YWCA's Interfaith Hospitality House, a shelter for families experiencing the crisis of homelessness; and the Family Resource Center, a community center offering assistance and supportive services to those seeking social and economic empowerment.

YWoodlawn Initiative

The National Planning Excellence Award for a Planning Advocate

Michael Osur, Deputy Director, Riverside County Department of Public Health

Riverside, California

Michael Osur, Deputy Director of the Riverside County Department of Public Health. Image provided courtesy of the RCDOPHUnder Michael Osur's leadership, the Riverside County Department of Public Health set a strategic goal of addressing the built environment and quality of life issues by focusing on the connection between community design and public health as it relates to physical activity, healthy eating, and injury prevention.

Through Osur's leadership, his accomplishments include: forming a partnership with the planning department; creating the Healthy Riverside County Initiative; forming the Riverside County Health Coalition; and hiring the first AICP-certified planner to work in the county health department.

California Healthline (2011), "Riverside Hopes New Policies Will Help Curb Sprawl, Obesity."

National Planning Excellence Award for a Planning Firm

Goody Clancy

Boston, Massachusetts

Redefining suburbs: Creating a high-density, walkable, mixed-use downtown for suburban Dublin, Ohio, prevents roughly 20,000,000SF of expected development from following a sprawl-form modelGoody Clancy is an interdisciplinary architecture, planning, and preservation firm that over five decades of exceptional work has drawn inspiration from a commitment to creating sustainable communities defined by social equity, economic opportunity, and environmental responsibility. The firm starts every planning process with an intensive period of stakeholder interviews to build trust and allowing for discussion on core issues. The firm also places a consistent emphasis on research and widely sharing best practices through writing, speaking, and civic engagement.

The firm believes that the right approach to planning lies both in introducing essential information into each planning process — even when it risks aggravating existing divisions by challenging deeply held beliefs — and in communicating challenging information in ways that promote dialog and provide tools for overcoming differences. On the issue of density, the "Civic Initiative for a Livable New England" led to the creation of the Massachusetts Smart Growth Alliance. The firm created the 1985 plan for Boston's Harbor Point, the model for HUD's HOPE VI program to transform failing public housing into mixed-use communities, and the 2010 master plan for the post-Katrina New Orleans.

Goody Clancy

National Planning Excellence Award for a Planning Agency

Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning

Northeastern Illinois

GO TO 2040 addresses the diverse factors that together shape quality of life in terms of 'livability' - what attracts people to a particular communityPrior to the formation of the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning (CMAP), regional planning was fragmented with separate, uncoordinated organizations for transportation and land use and lacked stable funding and implementation authority. CMAP is the regional planning organization for the northeastern Illinois counties of Cook, DuPage, Kane, Kendall, Lake, McHenry, and Will, and is responsible for producing the region's comprehensive plan. With the creation of CMAP, the efforts of multitude of local governmental agencies are coordinated and afforded the best technical assistance and analysis to improve land use and transportation decision-making for the region.

CMAP's GO TO 2040 regional comprehensive plan is designed to help seven counties and 284 municipalities coordinate policies and investment decisions. It includes strategies to shape the region's transportation system and development patterns, while also addressing the natural environment, economic development, housing, education, human services, and other quality-of-life factors. In the two years since GO TO 2040's adoption, CMAP has advanced its implementation by providing technical assistance to local government, and pursuing policy initiatives that address key plan priorities.


National Planning Excellence Award for an Emerging Planning & Design Firm

Interface Studio LLC

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Interface Studio's work has seen implementation success and fundraising. Their plan for Francisville stimulated private investment in line with community goalsFounded in 2004, Interface Studio LLC is a full-service planning and urban design practice. The firm has had tremendous success with their approach to public dialog and design, which is graphic, grassroots-driven, and interactive, and garners support for and among the communities with which they work. Their plans are data driven, visually engaging, fundraisers, and stakeholder driven. With their creative touch and forward thinking agendas, the design studio helps distressed urban communities achieve a positive outlook for the future. 

The firm's work has been recognized with state and national awards, including three American Planning Association National Awards, two for Grassroots Planning (2009 and 2012) for Yorktown and the Lower Italian Market Revitalization Project in South Philadelphia, and the Wicker Park Bucktown Master Plan for Public Outreach (2010).

Interface Studio LLC

National Planning Award for a Planning Pioneer

Ronald Shiffman, FAICP

Brooklyn, New York

Ron Shiffman meets Nelson Mandela (1990) while working in South Africa on the Community-Based StrategiesDuring Ronald Shiffman's 50 years as a city planner, he has provided program and organizational development assistance to community-based groups in low- and moderate-income neighborhoods. His development of the model for community development corporations is a direct result of this groundbreaking work in the 1960s to rebuild Bedford-Stuyvesant through economic development programs. Trained as an architect and urban planner, he is an expert in community-based planning, housing, and sustainable development. He has had extensive experience bringing together private and public sector sponsors of housing and related community development projects.

Shiffman co-founded one of the country's first university design centers — Pratt Institute Center for Community and Environmental Development; established one of the nation's first community development corporations in one of the nation's most distressed neighborhoods; pushed for New York City's first inclusionary zoning policy as a commissioner on the NYC Planning Commission; and pioneered the city's mixed-use zoning, which has preserved many of the city's most vital neighborhoods.

Ronald Shiffman, Professor, PRATT

AICP Student Project Awards

Applied Research

From Revenue to Reuse: Managing Tax-Reverted Properties in Detroit

Masters of Urban Planning
University of Michigan
Project Team: Catherine Coenen, John Drain, Oana Druta, Gregory Holman, Te-Ping Kang, Pramoth Kitjakarnlertudom, Robert Linn, Daniel Stern, Jordan Twardy

Read the full narrative (pdf)

Application of the Planning Process

Connect Cascade Locks: A Recreational Trails Plan for Economic Development

Masters of Urban and Regional Planning Program, Toulan School of Urban Studies and Planning
Portland State University
Project team:

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Contribution of Planning to Contemporary Issues

Sustainability Progress Report, 2012

Master Program, School of Urban and Regional Planning
University of Iowa
Project team: Naana Amonoo-Neizer, Tim Christensen, Emily House, Medora Kealy, Emma Papworth, Lindsay Salvatore, Lindsay Whitson

Read the full narrative (pdf)


The 2013 National Planning Awards jury was chaired by Ann C. Bagley, FAICP.

Members of the jury were Gov. Parris N. Glendening, Letitia A. Gomez, AICP, Charles C. Graves III, AICP, Regina Gray, John R. Gosling, AICP, Mayor Ron Littlefield, AICP, Lynn M. Ross, AICP, and Chase W. Rynd.

Read the biographies of the 2013 Awards Jury