The Rudy Bruner Award for Urban Excellence (RBA) is a national urban design award that seeks to promote innovative thinking about the built environment and advance conversation about making cities better. The award discovers and celebrates urban places that are distinguished by quality design along with their social and economic contributions to our nation’s cities.

One Gold Medal of $50,000 and four Silver Medals of $10,000 are awarded each biennial. Winners are selected by a committee comprised of six urban experts, including a mayor. Each winner is documented with a detailed case study so that the ideas and lessons learned may be shared with others.

Explore the website to learn more about the award, selection process, past winners, and case studies.


  • The project must be a real place, not just a plan or program.
  • Since site visits are integral to the award process, the project must have been in operation for a sufficient amount of time to demonstrate success.
  • The project must be located in the contiguous United States. It is not feasible to conduct site visits in Alaska or Hawaii.
  • There are no distinct categories. Projects may include any type of place that makes a positive contribution to the urban built environment.
  • Urban environment is broadly defined to include cities, towns, villages, neighborhoods, counties and/or regions.
  • Previous applicants and Honorable Mention winners may apply up to three times. Previous winners are not eligible.


The biennial award is currently on pause. The typical award cycle schedule is as follows:

  • Call for Entries is announced in September.
  • Finalists are notified the following February.
  • Site visits to the finalists are conducted February – May
  • Gold and Silver Medalists are announced in June.
  • Award presentations take place September – October.
  • Case studies and books are published the following year.


The application is designed to provide the opportunity to tell the story of the project and elicit multiple perspectives. Applicants are encouraged to concentrate their efforts on providing a clear description of the project and thorough answers to questions. Although visual representations of the project – such as drawings, maps, plans and photographs –are important, the selection will be based upon the quality of the project rather than the elaborateness of the presentation. Click here to view and/or download the application. We encourage you to browse the winners to learn more and view completed applications.


  •  Download a copy of the 2019 RBA Application. The application is available as a writable pdf (Adobe Acrobat Version 9 or higher is required).
  •  Read and follow the instructions in the application carefully before proceeding with the submission process.
  •  Complete and save the application as directed prior to submission.
  •  You will be asked to register in order to begin the online submission process. If you encounter difficulties during the submission process, please contact the Submittable online support system for assistance at support@submittable.com or 855-467-8264.


In preparation for submission, the application should be saved in the following components. You will be prompted to upload these during the online submission process. Save each file using the specified naming structure, inserting your project’s name in lieu of [Project Name] at the beginning of each file name as indicated. Limit Project Name to 25 characters or less.

  • FULL APPLICATION: The ENTIRE application EXCEPT for the Award Use form as a single pdf. The application should include the cover page (see details below), visual representations, and supplementary materials (if applicable). Do NOT include the Table of Contents, Selection Committee and Completing the Application instructions (pages 1-7). The Full Application should be saved as a print resolution PDF (300dpi) with a maximum size of 25MB. Save the file as: [Project Name]_FULL
  • COVER PAGE: An 8.5”x11” cover page with the project name, city and state, applicant name, and image (optional), saved as a pdf. The Cover Page file should have a resolution of 300dpi with a maximum size of 4MB. Save the file as: [Project Name]_COVER
  • PROJECT OVERVIEW: A separate copy of the Project Data and Project-at-a-Glance forms and  a single photograph that best represents the completed project (formatted on a separate 8.5”x11” page), saved as a single, three-page pdf. This will be forwarded to the Selection Committee prior to the first meeting. The Project Overview file should have a resolution of 300dpi with a maximum size of 4MB. Save as: [Project Name]_OVERVIEW
  • REPRESENTATIVE IMAGE: Upload the photograph included in the Project Overview (above) as a separate JPG file. Include photographer’s in the file name as indicated. The Representative Image should be arranged on an 8.5”x11” page in portrait orientation with a resolution of 300ddpi and maximum file size of 4MB.  Save the file as: [Project Name]_IMAGE_[photographer’s full name]
  • AWARD USE FORM: The Award Use form as a single pdf with a maximum file size of 4MB. Save the file as: [Project Name]_AWARD

If you encounter difficulties during the submission process, please contact the Submittable online support system for assistance at support@submittable.com or 855-467-8264.

For questions regarding the award or selection process please contact us at rba@brunerfoundation.org or 617.492.8404.

As you prepare your submission, we encourage you to:

  • Complete and submit your application as soon as possible in order to allow adequate time to address any questions or technical issues.
  • Review the Frequently Asked Questions page
  • Optimize your pdf files prior to uploading them to reduce the file size and facilitate the online submission process. Visit the Frequently Asked Questions page for more information.
  • Contact us at 617.492.8404 or rba@brunerfoundation.org with any questions about the application. Bruner Foundation staff will not be available after 5:00 pm EST on December 12th. Technical support for the online submission process is available via support@submittable.com or 855.467.8264.

The above submission process and guidelines are for reference purposes only. The biennial award was put on hold indefinitely in 2020. In Fall 2022 the RBA will transition to the University at Buffalo School of Architecture and Planning, the culmination of a decades-long partnership with the school and Dean Robert Shibley. It will begin a new chapter as a resource and tool for research, scholarship, and practice. Stay tuned for more details to come.