RECAP: 2020 Edmund N. Bacon Urban Design Awards

By Elizabeth Paul on Feb 27, 2020

2020 Edmund N. Bacon Urban Design Awards

This year’s Edmund N. Bacon Urban Design Awards honored the Bronx-based urban revitalization strategist (and MacArthur Fellow) Majora Carter and the Student Design Award winners from Leeds Beckett University, the University of Pennsylvania, and the University of Massachusetts

Two hundred people attended the Awards Ceremony at the Center for Architecture and Design on February 11th, including the award winners and Philadelphia’s community of developers, urban planners, architects, and urbanophiles. The student winners presented short, PechaKucha-style talks at the ceremony, explaining their designs and how they hoped those designs would benefit Philadelphia’s Germantown neighborhood. Carter presented an inspirational talk about her work and her vision for how communities can be improved without displacing residents. The ceremony was followed by a coffee and dessert reception where the public and the award winners mingled and discussed the concepts and ideas presented.

The Edmund N. Bacon Urban Design Award is presented annually to a professional who has made significant contributions to the field of urban planning through conviction of vision, effective communication, and commitment to improving their community, like the award’s namesake.

Majora Carter was honored for her work over the past 20+ years as a real estate developer, urban revitalization strategy consultant, MacArthur Fellow, and Peabody Award winning broadcaster. She is responsible for the creation and successful implementation of numerous economic developments, green-infrastructure projects & policies, and job training & placement systems. Carter is quoted on the walls of the Smithsonian Museum of African American History and Culture: “Nobody should have to move out of their neighborhood to live in a better one.” She applies this talent-retention lens to all her work.

Most famously, Carter became involved in urban design when her dog led her into a disused stretch of waterfront property in the Bronx, which inspired her to develop the first new South Bronx waterfront park in over 60 years. The park provides alternative transport, recreational space, jobs, and environmental enhancements to the local community.

The Edmund N. Bacon Student Design Awards are presented annually to the winners of an international urban design competition for university students, focused on Philadelphia and juried by a blind panel of professional developers, designers, and planners. This year’s challenge asked entrants to consider the design of the Chelten Avenue shopping district in Germantown, the most economically diverse neighborhood in the city, and how the district could be designed to better support the local community, improve safety and accessibility for pedestrians (and all modes of transit), and help reveal all the nearby amenities available to shoppers: from public parks and swimming pools to historic homes and urban farms.

The student winners were honored for their creative and thoughtful designs to improve the Chelten Ave shopping district in Philadelphia’s Germantown neighborhood. The 2020 competition was developed in partnership with Germantown United Community Development Corporation to make sure that the competition would result in designs which would be of benefit to the actual community. The First Place team from Leeds Beckett University developed a proposal entitled Platforms for People made up of six independent interventions based on the needs of residents that they interviewed during the research process.

The Second Place team from the University of Pennsylvania developed a proposal entitled Chelten HUB based on the development of five nodes of activation in currently vacant lots across the length of the Chelten Avenue shopping district. Two Jury Prizes were also awarded: a Community Builder Jury Prize awarded to a team from the University of Massachusetts for their The Quilt: Make Little Plans proposal, and an Economy Builder Jury Prize to a second team from Leeds Beckett University for their Green Connect proposal.