Creating Excellent Urban Places: Learning from the Rudy Bruner Award

The Rudy Bruner Award for Urban Excellence (RBA) is intended to be a platform for exploring the idea of “urban excellence.” Each biennial award cycle involves considerable discussion about urban development and design, which is summarized with a “Lessons Learned” essay. These essays synthesize observations gleaned from Selection Committee deliberations, research and secondary sources, and insights that emerge from numerous conversations and observations that take place during the site visits and development of the case studies. The essays are intended to provide critical reflection and insight into the complex process of creating excellent urban places, pique curiosity, and inspire further discussion and exploration. 

In 2017, the RBA published “Creating Excellent Urban Places: Learning from the Rudy Bruner Award,” a paper that considered the value of the award as a tool for critical evaluation along with themes that emerged from 30 years of investigation. Common attributes among RBA winners include: the critical role of vision and leadership, the value of collaborative partnerships, the benefits of engaging and empowering communities affected by the projects, the need to anchor each development in its own distinctive culture and place, and the transformative power of design.

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 lessons learned from each award cycle are both unique and timeless. They reflect the perception of and responses to critical urban issues within the socioeconomic and political context of America each biennial. The observations are intended to not only inform our understanding of the evolution of cities and the impact of place-based planning and development over time, but to also inspire and advance future practice.