National Planning Awards 2014
APA's National Planning Excellence and Achievement Awards honor the best planning efforts and individuals that create communities of lasting value. The 2014 award recipients will be honored at a special luncheon held during APA's National Planning Conference.
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National Planning Excellence Awards
Daniel Burnham Award for a Comprehensive Plan
Plan Cincinnati: A Comprehensive Plan for the Future
Plan Cincinnati is the first plan for the city of Cincinnati in more than 30 years. The three year process began in 2009; one year after the city's planning department was re-established. Instead of trying to make Cincinnati like other cities, Plan Cincinnati focuses on what makes Cincinnati unique — its urbanity. The plan focuses on revitalizing Cincinnati's neighborhood centers and corridors while improving citizen's physical health and quality of life. In a shift from traditional comprehensive plans, Plan Cincinnati is organized around five initiatives — compete, connect, live, sustain, and collaborate. The result is a plan that is more conceptual and is not a strict parcel-by-parcel approach. The plan emphasizes mixed-uses, and defines areas where compact walkable development should be reinforced or established.
Development of the plan was achieved through a "process of discovery," letting the process itself guide the plan's direction. Oversight was provided by a mayor-appointed steering committee that included representatives from community organizations, businesses, nonprofits, and institutions. Neighborhood summits, public open houses, and special youth outreach helped ensure that Plan Cincinnati was a plan that represented the citizens of Cincinnati and successfully involved stakeholders of various ages, backgrounds, and geographies.
Daniel Burnham Award for a Comprehensive Plan
Legacy 2030 Comprehensive Plan
Winston — Salem / Forsyth County, North Carolina
Legacy 2030 Comprehensive Plan identifies a list of strategies, policies, and actions to help Winston-Salem/Forsyth County become more sustainable, better designed, and more fiscally responsible. Forsyth County's predicted population growth, combined with its sprawling development pattern could result in the county running out of developable land within the next 20 years. Legacy 2030 Comprehensive Plan addresses these concerns and connects health and equity to the physical form of the county county, focuses on ways to catalyze private investment, and makes the case that higher density and mixed-use urban areas yield a higher return on strategic public investments.
The plan's multi-pronged approach to engage citizens in the planning process was designed to invite resident input and offer a variety of ways in which to do so. Outreach efforts included an interactive website, a film series, public meetings, and a music video. As a result of the outreach efforts, the planning department came into contact with more citizens than ever before and the community sees a greater connection between planning and issues like public health, local foods, equity, and quality of life.
The HUD Secretary's Opportunity and Empowerment Award
Mountain View Village
Mountain View Village, one of Anchorage's first neighborhoods with the highest Alaska native population, had one of the lowest incomes and highest need for revitalization. The Cook Inlet Housing Authority (CIHA) selected Mountain View Village for its revitalization initiative, targeting blighted and deteriorated housing. CIHA undertook a scattered site development approach so housing improvements were not concentrated on a single block or area of the neighborhood. CIHA collaborated with the Mountain View Council (MVCC) to align the two organization's redevelopment preferences and offer citizens an active role in the planning process. Their goals included: decreased absentee landlordism, increased homeownership, and demolition of blighted, deteriorated, or vacant structures. CIHA has invested $84 million in Mountain View in land acquisition, redevelopment or development of rentals and homes for immediate sale, and low interest financing for homeowners.
Efforts so far have seen the demolition of 130 blighted structures, building 277 affordable homes, 51 new single family homes built for immediate home owners (of which, 50 have been sold). To date, CIHA has redeveloped 10 percent of all residential units in Mountain View Village. Early results show the effort of the last eight years is paying off — household incomes are on the rise; local schools are seeing increased parent participation and better student scores; and more people are choosing to live in Mountain View Village and are staying in their residences longer.
National Planning Excellence Award for a Best Practice
Urban Forestry Code Revisions Project
Tigard's Urban Forestry Code Revisions Project was a multi-year effort resulting in a comprehensive rewrite of regulations relating to trees in both development and non-development situations. The resulting code is a novel approach that requires new development and redevelopment projects to provide a percentage of canopy coverage on its lots. Typical forestry codes often focus on the number of trees or caliper inches per lot area, but do not take into consideration the growth and maturation of trees.
The new code is flexible and incentive-based to help the city achieve its goal of 40 percent citywide tree canopy by 2047 and preserve the community's remaining grove of native trees, without unduly impeding development. Developers have four options that can be combined to meet the effective tree canopy requirements: preservation, planting, fee-in-lieu, or discretionary review. The Tree Grove Preservation Incentives make it possible to preserve existing tree groves while meeting development objectives. The code was developed through a collaborative process that brought together typically feuding parties. The plan also included extensive public involvement through open houses and committees.
National Planning Excellence Award for a Grassroots Initiative
Ridges to River Open Space Network Vision Plan
Mid-Columbia Basin, Washington
Rapid and uncoordinated development was destroying the Mid-Columbia Basin region's open spaces. Embarking on a six-year effort, citizens of the region took action to protect the open spaces, trails and valuable habitats. The citizens not only recognized the need for a regional plan, but also worked to fund the effort through volunteer work and grants. The steering committee included representatives from seven major jurisdictions, 10 nonprofits, and the metropolitan planning organization. The result, Ridges to Rivers Open Space Network Vision Plan, is a plan that is the only region-wide document that promotes open space and trail connectivity as a regional economic driver with health benefits and improved quality of life for residents.
The plan makes it possible for two counties and four cities to speak the same language, share the same maps, and use the same technology to approach planning for the region. It includes recommendations for preserving and enhancing open space in the region. To date, 10 of the 26 open space and trail recommendations are in varying levels of implementation; and nine of the 24 general recommendations have been or are in the process of being implemented. As a result of the citizen work, comprehensive plans are being amended, hillside standards are being written and on-the-ground efforts are providing critical trial linkages.
National Planning Excellence Award for Implementation
Detroit RiverFront Conservancy
The nonprofit Detroit RiverFront Conservancy was created in 2003 through a public-private partnership to encourage economic development within the city and to enable public access to the riverfront. Through its work, the Conservancy is transforming five and half miles of the Detroit riverfront from an area with limited public access, marked with crumbling buildings and overgrown lots into a revitalized riverfront that draws nearly three million visitors a year.
Nearly three and a half miles of the east riverfront project are complete and construction is starting on the two-mile west riverfront. The Conservancy offers seven-day-a-week programming to promote health, education, and recreation along the riverfront, including the annual River Days festival that draws 15,000 people each summer. The Conservancy has achieved $1 billion in total public and private sector investment and generates an estimated $4.5 million in annual tax revenue. The public has even requested that the RiverWalk be extended beyond its original five and half mile plan.
National Planning Excellence Award for a Communications Initiative
ACCESS Magazine, University of California Transportation Center
Los Angeles, California
ACCESS Magazine reports on research at the University of California Transportation Center and presents it in a readable format so it useful for policy makers and planning practitioners. ACCESS was started in 1993 by University of California Berkeley planning professor Mel Webber to bridge the gap between transportation research and policy.
Authors of academic research published in a professional journal may write an abridged version for publication in ACCESS. The magazine's editors work with authors to translate academic, technical jargon into understandable, reader-friendly prose. The biannual publication has more than 8,500 subscribers from around the world and attracts more than 1,000 website visitors each month. Several ACCESS articles also have been translated and published in the Chinese journal, Urban Transport of China. After more than 20 years, ACCESS continues to help eliminate the gap between transportation research and policy makers.
National Planning Excellence Award for Transportation Planning
Hawaii Department of Transportation's Statewide Pedestrian Master Plan
Hawaii's Statewide Pedestrian Master Plan prioritizes pedestrian safety, mobility, and accessibility, and is the first in the nation to have a statewide, pedestrian-only focus. The plan focuses on four critical transportation elements: improving safety; enhancing mobility and accessibility; improving connectivity; and encouraging priority pedestrian infrastructure. To combat the state's high number of pedestrian fatalities, the plan identifies ways to improve pedestrian safety through engineering, education, enforcement, and evaluation. The Hawaii Pedestrian Toolbox is a key component of the plan and includes guidelines and best practices for the planning, design, operation, and maintenance of pedestrian facilities.
The plan was created through a transparent and inclusive process that included extensive public participation. A Citizen Advisory Committee was created to provide a balanced representation of stakeholder interests including police, health, transit, vehicle, and non-motor advocates. The plan also identified 31 prioritized project locations and has included performance measures to gauge the plan's progress and provide accountability. The Hawaii Statewide Pedestrian Master Plan is one component of Hawaii DOT's overall mission of providing safe and efficient multi-modal transportation system.
National Planning Excellence Award for Environmental Planning
Broward County Climate Change Element
Broward County, Florida
The Broward County Climate Change Element (Element) is a county-wide strategy to protect residents, businesses, and infrastructure from climate change impacts and promote energy efficiency and greenhouse gas reductions. The Element was adopted in February 2013 and is a coordinated initiative consisting of 82 environmental policies that focus on local actions for addressing a subject with global implications. The Element looks to partners and collaborators to participate in the plan's implementation to improve community resilience and builds upon existing planning initiatives such as the Broward Climate Change Action Plan. Broward is the first local government in Florida to amend its comprehensive plan to provide for the Adaptation Action Areas designation as required by Florida state law.
The Element identifies climate-vulnerable areas; develops adaptation strategies for the built environment, natural systems, and green infrastructure; establishes intergovernmental coordination mechanisms to address climate change on a local, regional, and federal level; and supports creation of a regional climate change action plan. The Element took into consideration how the community will best adapt to and mitigate for the economic, environmental, and social effects of climate change.
National Planning Excellence Award for Innovation in Economic Development & Planning
East Franklinton Creative Community District Plan
A nine-month planning process that began in 2011 focused on specifically attracting and retaining young 'creative class' residents who cannot afford the city's increasingly gentrified neighborhoods. The East Franklinton Creative Community District Plan, prepared by an interdisciplinary team led by Goody Clancy, calls for creating of an arts and innovation district on 200 acres of distressed, partly industrial land just west of downtown Columbus. Measures to ensure the district's residents can remain in the area include affordability mandates for new development, freezing of existing property taxes for existing residential parcels, and artist live/work tax credits.
As many as 2,000 new lofts, live/work houses, and single-family houses will be built, along with nearly 50,000 square feet of stores, cafes, and galleries. There is potential for more than 100,000 square feet of adaptive reuse of industrial buildings for artist studios and entrepreneur/small business incubator space. The new district is projected to become home for 3,600 to 4,800 new residents. Already under development are the adaptive reuse of two warehouses and one new mixed-use project.
National Planning Excellence Award for Urban Design
Brooklyn Bridge Park
Brooklyn, New York
The Brooklyn Bridge Park transformed 1.3 miles of Brooklyn's formerly inaccessible East River waterfront into a scenic, multi-use space. Once isolated from the community by the elevated Brooklyn-Queens Expressway, the Brooklyn Bridge Park has successfully integrated the Brooklyn waterfront into the fabric of the neighborhood by creating urban nodes at the park's main entrances and improving access with a new pedestrian bridge. The park was planned with several goals guiding its development, including returning the waterfront edge to the public; creating a multi-use civic space; and connecting with the adjacent neighborhoods.
To date, more than 38 acres have been built. Once fully complete, the Brooklyn Bridge Park will span 85 acres along the East River waterfront. The park has had a transformative impact on the community. Five completed piers, a restored historic carousel, boat ramps, pebble beaches, fishing stations, a salt marsh, playground, sports fields, and educational programs attract thousands of visitors on any given day.
The Pierre L'Enfant International Planning Excellence Award
The Songzhuang Arts and Agriculture City
The Songzhuang Arts and Agriculture City master plan offers an innovative approach to the integration of agriculture and the urban environment along the eastern fringe of Beijing. Completed by Sasaki Associates, the plan's purpose is to transition the region's economy from a commodity-based, agrarian landscape toward new industries that focus on art, agriculture, technology, and research. In response to the quickly evolving land outside of Beijing, the plan proposes a series of self-sustaining communities with farmland located at the core and urban development along the periphery of the community. This approach allows for more diverse internal edge conditions that foster greater interaction between the cultivated landscape and urban fabric.
The plan calls for preserving 98 percent of existing agricultural land for use as either productive farmland or functional landscape infrastructure, which will allow for increased employment opportunities and improved local food production. The plan places emphasis on sustainable communities and environments. Additionally, the site landscape incorporates strategies to manage storm water quantity and quality within the development and considers opportunities to mitigate flood risks — an important planning provision for Songzhuang, as the region is prone to intense storms during the summer monsoonal rains.
National Planning Excellence Award for a Planning Advocate
Cynthia Lee-Sheng, Jefferson Parish Council
Cynthia Lee-Sheng has been instrumental in supporting planning efforts to address the community development challenges and chronic disinvestment facing the 134-acre area in Jefferson Parish known as "Fat City." Since her election to the Jefferson Parish Council in 2009, Lee-Sheng has embraced the planning process and exhibited a genuine commitment to the neighborhood's long-term prosperity and improving resident quality of life.
Lee-Sheng collaborated with a citizen-led planning task force and successfully persuaded the city council to adopt the Fat City strategic plan as a component of the parish's comprehensive plan. She appointed a Fat City advisory board to garner consensus for long-term priorities such as creation of the Fat City business development district. Lee-Sheng led the re-zoning effort to encourage mixed use, design and use standards to curtail all-night bars. As a result of the zoning changes, police calls to the area have declined by 32 percent. Investment in the area also has increased with the redevelopment of former buildings into new restaurants, office space, and a new wellness center. Lee-Sheng has forged new alliances and has encouraged collaboration between businesses and civic leaders.
National Planning Excellence Award for an Emerging Planning & Design Firm
Houseal Lavigne Associates
Houseal Lavigne is an urban planning and community development consulting firm based in Chicago. The agency is helping to make planning more engaging through its creative citizen outreach and thereby garnering maximum support for and among the communities in which they work. Each plan the firm develops is technology integrated, visually engaging, and has inclusionary outreach methods.
Since its founding in 2004, Houseal Lavigne has worked with more than 200 communities in 13 states. The agency approaches each project keeping the following four key criteria in mind — quality, influence, ethical practice, and outreach and engagement. The agency's influence is already evident through its planning graphics and technology integration. Completing all of the design work in-house, it's McHenry County Comprehensive Master Plan has been referred to as a "coffee table book" because of its graphics and design attractiveness. The staff of 11 also is active in helping to advance the planning profession by presenting at conferences, leading training programs, and educating future planners through university courses.
National Planning Excellence Award for a Planning Agency
Tallahassee — Leon County Planning Department
As a partnership between the City of Tallahassee and Leon County, Florida, the Tallahassee — Leon County Planning Department (TLCPD) has created dynamic planning programs that benefit the whole community and encourage coordination with and assistance to stakeholders. TLCPD has produced plans that focus on mobility, placemaking, and greenways. Their plans have converted areas struggling with redevelopment and functionality issues into pleasing public spaces that engage citizens and support local businesses.
TLCPD recognizes the value of creating a "culture of community," welcoming and implementing citizen input. The department actively recruits citizens for citizen advisory committees, work groups, and focus groups. TLCPD's newly formed design studio, DesignWorks, offers free of charge, high-level technical assistance on urban design and site design for local property owners.
National Planning Award for a Planning Pioneer
Irving Hand, FAICP, Professor Emeritus
Professor Irving Hand, FAICP, has had a significant national impact on the planning profession, especially on developing a regional planning approach. In the early 1950s, he played an instrumental role in establishing the Tulsa, Oklahoma, Metropolitan Area Planning Commission. He helped facilitate the creation of the Metropolitan Government of Nashville and Davidson County in 1962. Hand was appointed by Pennsylvania Governor William Scranton as the director of the Pennsylvania State Planning Board. Under his leadership, he helped shape Pennsylvania's planning enabling legislation in 1968 with the adoption of the state's first Municipalities Planning Code. The code remains in effect today. He also spearheaded the development of Pennsylvania's first Appalachian Development Plan.
Within the academic realm, Hand served as Chairman of the graduate degree program in urban and regional planning at Pennsylvania State University, Capital College. He established the Institute of State and Regional Affairs and the Pennsylvania State Data Center — both organizations continue to serve planning needs within the commonwealth but also nationwide. Hand continues to educate and provide planning service today and is Chairman Emeritus at Delta Development Group, Inc. He was inducted in the College of Fellows of the American Institute of Certified Planning in 2000.
National Planning Award for a Planning Pioneer
Robert Venturi and Denise Scott Brown
The husband and wife team has had a profound influence on both the architecture and planning professions. Partners and owners of Venturi Scott Brown and Associates, the couple focused their work on how people interact with their environments and each other — taking that interaction into consideration in their designs and plans. Their landmark book, Learning from Las Vegas (1972), explored why so many people visited a city that was heavily criticized by architects and looked at everyday urbanism, urban sprawl, and ordinary buildings. It also reintroduced the idea of communication as a function of architecture, especially in cities.
The couple emphasizes that they have learned from each other. Together, they have worked on integrating planning, architecture, and social studies. They are noted for their campus plans, including the University of Michigan Campus Plan, the University of Pennsylvania Master Plan, and plans for South Street, Philadelphia; Miami Beach, Florida; and Memphis, Tennessee.
National Planning Award for a Planning Landmark
Housing Act of 1949
The Housing Act of 1949 was passed to help address the decline of urban housing following the exodus to the suburbs. The legislation provided governance over how federal financial resources would shape the growth of American cities. Components of the legislation aimed at reducing housing costs, raising housing standards, and enabling the federal government for the first time, to aid cities in clearing slums and rebuilding blighted areas. The program emphasized new construction. In addition to improving the available housing stock, the program made open space land, neighborhood facilities, and basic water and sewer facilities eligible for federal assistance.