May 19, 2011
Innovative town-and-gown partnership creates a new civic hub for downtown Phoenix
The Rudy Bruner Award for Urban Excellence has named Civic Space Park as a 2011 Silver Medal recipient. The prestigious biennial award honors urban places that, through their design and development, have lasting transformative impacts on their urban neighborhoods and communities.
Civic Space Park, a joint project between Arizona State University and the City of Phoenix, along with three fellow Silver Medalists, will receive a $10,000 prize. The Bridge Homeless Assistance Center in Dallas, this year’s Gold Medal recipient, will receive a $50,000 prize.
Established in 1986 and now in its 13th award cycle, the Rudy Bruner Award has recognized more than 65 projects that demonstrate excellence in urban placemaking. Unique for its focus on the interplay of process, place and values in creating enriching urban environments, and its extensive, on-site evaluation process, the award honors projects that, through innovative collaborations, establish new approaches for transforming urban challenges into community opportunities.
“Civic Space Park and its fellow 2011 winners illustrate the combination of factors that make good design such a valuable agent of positive change,” said Brandy H. M. Brooks, director of the award program. “Beyond achieving aesthetic excellence, these projects demonstrate an intimate understanding of the users’ needs and an imperative to address their broader social, economic and environmental challenges. Each project reflects participation across a wide spectrum of community interests that came together to create beautiful, resourceful and creative urban solutions that serve the future of their neighborhoods and cities.”
Civic Space Park demonstrates how local governments and major institutions can successfully partner to create exceptional urban assets for the whole community. Building upon the success of Arizona State University’s downtown campus as a revitalizing force, the City of Phoenix and ASU
undertook the joint creation of this new 2.8-acre public park, transforming a blighted area into a sustainable, mixed-use amenity that serves diverse community needs.
Located at the crossroads between four distinct institutions—Arizona State University, the YMCA, a low-income senior housing development, and the Central Transit Station—the park connects important public and university facilities to draw students, seniors, employees, commuters and visitors to Phoenix’s downtown core. The historic AE England Building, renovated as a multi-use hall and café, anchors the park, while Janet Echelman’s luminescent sculpture establishes a distinct civic identity. Designed by AECOM and developed through the unprecedented town-andgown
partnership between the City and ASU, with substantial input from voters, businesses, and civic groups, Civic Space Park was applauded by the selection committee for the high level of community engagement that brought it to fruition.
Acknowledging the dynamic nature of urban place making, the Rudy Bruner Award welcomes a diverse range of applications. This year the selection committee received 49 applications representing a wide scope of project programs, scales, and design challenges. From these applicants, five finalists were selected by a multidisciplinary selection committee and visited by a study team that interviewed project stakeholders, including designers, developers, public officials, and members of the surrounding community. Based on these site visits, the selection committee determined the Gold and Silver Medal recipients.
Other 2011 Silver Medal recipients include Brooklyn Bridge Park in New York, a community-initiated, 85-acre park that preserves 1.3 miles of riverfront for public use; Gary Comer Youth Center and Gary Comer College Prep, which support education and youth programs that bring new
opportunities to Chicago’s Grand Crossing neighborhood; and the Santa Fe Railyard Redevelopment, which unified the Santa Fe, New Mexico community around a vision for a mixed-use cultural and commercial district. The 2011 Gold Medal recipient is The Bridge Homeless Assistance Center in Dallas, Texas, which provides shelter and services to help clients transition to sustained independence.
“This year’s winners reflect two important themes: The desire for communities to shape the future of their important public spaces and the need for local governments, institutions and citizens to join together to take on the pressing social issues confronting our collective future,” said architect
Simeon Bruner, the award’s founder. “In honoring these accomplishments, we hope the Rudy Bruner Award will inspire other communities to take action.”
The 2011 Rudy Bruner Award Selection Committee members were Mayor Lisa Wong of Fitchburg, Massachusetts; Randy Gragg, editor in chief of Portland, Oregon’s Portland Monthly; Dan Pitera, executive director of the Detroit Collaborative Design Center; Renata Simril, managing director at
Jones Lang LaSalle in Los Angeles; Edward Uhlir, executive director of Chicago’s Millennium Park; and Jess Zimbabwe, executive director of the Urban Land Institute's Daniel Rose Center for Public Leadership in Land Use in Washington, DC.
Case studies of the 2011 award winners will be published this fall. Past publications are available online at www.brunerfoundation.org/rba.
Additional information on the other 2011 Rudy Bruner Award Winners
Gold Medal: The Bridge Homeless Assistance Center
Located on the edge of Dallas’s central business district, The Bridge Homeless Assistance Center serves more than 1,000 homeless guests daily, year-round, 24 hours a day. This transitional center offers comprehensive services—including shelter, meals, counseling, training, medical care, and employment assistance—to support clients in achieving self-sufficiency in permanent housing. The 75,000-square-foot facility occupies a full city block and comprises six buildings, including an
existing warehouse converted into an outdoor sleeping pavilion, set around a courtyard.
The project, designed by architects Overland Partners and CamargoCopeland, was funded by a bond measure and led by a Mayor-appointed committee that engaged neighbors, police, city council members, and homeless citizens in a series of collaborative design workshops.
Silver Medal: Brooklyn Bridge Park
Brooklyn, New York
Occupying a 1.3-mile stretch of riverfront, the 85-acre Brooklyn Bridge Park is the largest adaptive reuse project in New York’s history. When cargo operations ceased in 1984, the area quickly fell into disuse. However, the site’s dramatic views and proximity to existing neighborhoods and transit
made it a prime candidate for future redevelopment. Nearly two decades later, when the Port Authority announced plans to sell the piers for commercial use, the community responded by creating a local development corporation to lead a public planning process for a new waterfront
park. The resulting park, designed by Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates, beautifully enacts a series of sustainable design priorities, transforming this post-industrial waterfront area into a citywide asset offering a range of free public activities including aquatic recreation, habitat restoration, community events, and environmental education.
Silver Medal: Gary Comer Youth Center and Gary Comer College Prep
Standing as a bold landmark in Chicago’s Greater Grand Crossing neighborhood, the 80,000-square-foot youth center and the adjacent 45,000-square-foot college preparatory high school create a safe and stimulating learning environment for local youth and their extended community.
In a unique symbiosis, the multi-functioning youth center accommodates activities for the high school’s 600 students during the day, while during evenings, weekends, and summers it sponsors education and fitness programs for the community. This integration of school and community
activates a full-time educational environment, and allows the high school building to be 50% smaller than average.
Funded by the Comer Science and Education Foundation and designed by John Ronan Architects, both the youth center and school are part of Chicago’s Planned Development process and involved substantial input from city agencies and the local community.
Silver Medal: Santa Fe Railyard Redevelopment
Santa Fe, New Mexico
The Santa Fe Railyard Redevelopment is a testament to the power of community involvement in the realization of great civic spaces. When the 40-acre rail yard was threatened by private development in the early 1990s, the city mobilized to purchase and protect the historic site for a local vision. With involvement from over 6,000 community members, a master plan was developed and implemented over the next decade through a unique partnership between a non-profit community corporation and the Trust for Public Land. Today, Santa Fe enjoys a vibrant, multi-use civic space that preserves the industrial heritage of the rail line while strengthening the city’s
future. The historic rail depot now serves as the northern terminus of New Mexico’s commuter rail, and the Railyard’s cultural and commercial amenities draw new visitors every year. The project team included Ken Smith Landscape Architect, Frederic Schwartz Architects, Surroundings Studio LLC, and public art consultant Mary Miss.
About the Bruner Foundation
The Bruner Foundation was established in New York in 1963 by Rudy Bruner to support innovative programs that challenge existing social patterns. In 1986 architect Simeon Bruner established the Rudy Bruner Award for Urban Excellence, a national award and forum to discuss the complexities and tradeoffs involved in urban placemaking. The Bruner Loeb Forum, a collaboration between the Rudy Bruner Award and the Loeb Fellowship at Harvard’s Graduate School of Design, seeks to advance thinking on a variety of topics relating to the urban built environment. The recently completed Rochester Effectiveness Partnership and its successor, the EthOS Project, have created new methods for improving the effectiveness of nonprofit service delivery. Building collaborative partnerships, leveraging resources and tackling complex societal issues are the common threads of the Foundation’s 40-year history.
Rudy Bruner Award – http://www.brunerfoundation.org/rba
Past Winners – http://www.brunerfoundation.org/rba/index.php?page=Past
Past Selection Committees –
Publications – http://www.brunerfoundation.org/rba/index.php?page=Publications