What is “Urban Excellence?” Rather than provide a prescriptive solution, the Rudy Bruner Award for Urban Excellence (RBA) is intended—by design—to be a process of exploration. It was created to prompt a conversation about urban excellence in America and to illuminate the complex process of placemaking.

The Rudy Bruner Award for Urban Excellence can be thought of as a question—an inquiry into the nature of excellence.

Robert Shibley, Placemaking: The Art and Practice of Building Communities

The process of soliciting, evaluating, and selecting projects provides a point of departure and forum for dialogue, the exchange of ideas, and reflection. These ideas are captured in “lessons learned” essays that summarize the findings from each cycle of the award and offer food for thought for those interested in urban design and development.

Not surprisingly, several recurring themes have emerged over the years:

  • Vision & Leadership
  • Collaborative Partnerships
  • Engagement & Empowerment
  • Anchoring in Place
  • Leveraging Design

These themes and others are considered more fully in the essays listed to the right. After 30 years of creating a Lesson’s Learned sections in each book, the RBA has summarized some of these key findings in “Creating Excellent Urban Places: Learning from the Rudy Bruner Award.” This paper examines the five themes list above by looking at 10 RBA Medalists. We invite you to explore the lessons learned and the paper, and join us in learning more about urban excellence.