The Rudy Bruner Award for Urban Excellence (RBA) is designed to illuminate the subtle and difficult process of making excellent urban places. The entry and selection process are designed to stretch the understanding of the project and encourage dialogue between the parties involved in the processes.
One gold medal and four silver medals are awarded each biennial, with the gold medalist receiving a $50,000 cash prize and each silver medalist receiving $10,000. To be eligible, projects must be urban, built (not just a plan or a program) and in operation long enough to demonstrate impact, and located within the contiguous United States.
The Bruner way of judging gives design work the meaning, dignity, importance, and relevance to the community that it deserves.
Susan Szenasy | Publisher and Editor-in-Chief METROPOLIS Magazine
Each cycle begins with a Call for Entries in September with applications due in December. The comprehensive application is intended to reveal the story of the project’s development and design and to elicit multiple perspectives of its evolution and impact.
Winners are chosen by a six-member selection committee comprised anew each cycle. Each committee includes a mayor and participant from a prior award winning project along with other experts in urban design and planning, development and financing, and community engagement.
The committee meets twice: once (in winter) to review and discuss all of the applications and select five finalists, and again (in spring) to determine the gold and silver medalists. In between, a team from the Bruner Foundation visits each finalist, spending two to three days touring the site, taking photographs, and interviewing people involved in the project to gather additional information.
Once the medalists are determined, the Bruner Foundation works with the winners to plan events that celebrate the medalists and reflect the unique character and culture of each place. Public programming such as tours and panel discussions provide opportunities to highlight their stories and spur dialogue.
Each winner is documented with a detailed case study that chronicles the development process—including design, financing and operations—and impact in the community, along with a distillation of the selection committee’s discussions and lessons learned about urban excellence.
The case studies and lessons learned are posted online and published in a book by the Bruner Foundation, and shared in blog posts and events like the annual Bruner Loeb Forum. Applications and case studies from award winning projects can also be viewed on the University of Buffalo Rudy Bruner Award Digital Archive.
The biennial award cycle is on pause due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Sign up for the RBA newsletter below to receive updates.