For more than 50 years, APA's National Planning Awards program has honored outstanding efforts in planning and planning leadership.

For a full list of previous Planning Award recipients — including all Achievement Award winners — search by location or by year:

2019 | 2018 | 2017 | 2016 | 2015 | 2014 | 2013 | 2012

 

National Planning Excellence Awards

Advancing Diversity & Social Change in Honor of Paul Davidoff


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National City, California — 2019

Carolina Martinez and the Paradise Creek Planning Partnership

Carolina Martinez, policy director at Environmental Health Coalition (EHC), assisted Old Town neighborhood residents of National City, California in developing a comprehensive plan to clean up the toxic environment and provide needed affordable housing near transit. The cornerstone of the project is the 201-unit LEED-Certified Paradise Creek affordable housing development that opened in 2016.

Community members review details of the new community plan at an open house. Photo courtesy of Avenue CDC and the University of Houston Community Design Resource Center.
Houston, Texas — 2017

Near North Side Quality of Life Agreement (QLA)

The 2015 Near Northside Quality of Life Agreement (QLA) is a comprehensive action plan to build a sustainable and healthy community in the Near Northside neighborhood of Houston. The plan was designed to improve housing conditions, enhance education opportunities, spur economic growth, and provide a safe and healthy environment for all residents. With contributions from hundreds of residents, leaders, and supporters, the QLA was presented with vivid photos and text in both English and Spanish. The Near Northside effort illustrates that even neighborhoods without great influence or wealth have the capacity to acquire the voice and power to implement great change.

State Representative Harold Mitchell, Jr. , winner of the 2015 Davidoff Award for his work with the ReGenesis Project
Spartanburg, South Carolina — 2015

State Representative Harold Mitchell, Jr. and the ReGenesis Project

South Carolina State Representative Harold Mitchell, Jr. has been committed to making the Arkwright and Forest Park neighborhoods within Spartanburg healthy and sustainable communities by advancing environmental justice, collaborative problem solving, and better neighborhood planning. He created the organization ReGenesis to represent neighborhood interests in cleaning up contaminated and abandoned property as well as revitalizing the surrounding community.

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Birmingham, Alabama — 2013

YWCA Central Alabama

The YWoodlawn Plan was a collaborative empowerment initiative intended to reduce poverty and hopelessness within an underserved area of Birmingham through reinvesting in the neighborhood; providing innovative housing for families experiencing homelessness; introducing affordable transition housing for families; bringing health, education, and employment-based services to the community's doorstep; and reintroducing homeownership opportunities in a stable, growing community.

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New Brunswick, New Jersey — 2012

Leonardo Vazquez

Leonardo Vazquez has made a mark in urban planning by shifting the focus to alleviate issues that plague Latino communities. For 15 years as a leader, educator, and author, Vazquez has been a staunch advocate for social justice and ethnic diversity in the planning industry.

Daniel Burnham Award for a Comprehensive Plan


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County of Kaua'i, Hawaii — 2019

Kaua'i County General Plan, Kaua'i Kākou

The new Kaua'i County General Plan, adopted in Spring 2018, represents a transparent and robust effort, involving residents at every phase of the planning process. The plan's 19 streamlined policies address the critical issues that residents face, guide the county's growth, and acknowledge the cultural heritage of the island while also calling for a county-wide system of action, evaluation, and accountability.

A bicyclist enjoys one of the first protected bike lanes built under the city’s planokc.
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma — 2018

planokc

planokc was the product of five years of extensive research, analysis, discussion, and public engagement to create a comprehensive policy plan for Oklahoma City. Using intensive modeling and data analysis, planners created three future growth scenarios complete with measures of environmental quality, resource consumption, and travel patterns. The success of planokc has created a more progressive-minded population in Oklahoma City, where residents are working together with city planners, elected officials, and special interest groups to plan new ideas for a healthier future.

High school sophomores in the Plano Youth Leadership program take part in a community visioning Lego exercise. Photo courtesy City of Plano.
Plano, Texas — 2017

Plano Tomorrow Comprehensive Plan

The city of Plano has transitioned from a small community in the Dallas-Fort Worth region to a major economic center. The Plano Tomorrow comprehensive plan describes a vision for the city's continuing evolution, guiding future growth, priorities, services, development, and redevelopment. The plan's web-based format has improved access to public documents, eliminated barriers to community involvement, and allowed residents to continue to provide input, unlike conventional plans.

Quiet reading and active conversations at a Plan Review open house.
Nashville, Tennessee — 2016

NashvilleNext

Taking an untraditional approach, Nashville's planning department started with community surveys, assembled issue-specific teams of community leaders, and based the NashvilleNext plan upon the public's vision for the city's and region's future. The result: a general plan for Metro Nashville/Davidson County that is relevant to community needs and addresses future growth.

Vibrant NEO 2040 received the 2015 Daniel Burnham Award for a Comprehensive Plan.
Northeast Ohio — 2015

Vibrant NEO 2040 – Northeast Ohio Sustainable Communities Consortium

Vibrant NEO 2040 was a three-year regional planning initiative led by the Northeast Ohio Sustainable Communities Consortium (NEOSCC) to determine the vision of the future for four metro areas in Northeast Ohio. Vibrant NEO includes policy recommendations, guidelines, best practices, and benchmarks for plans small and large. The effort specifically tackled issues relevant to planners, including shrinking cities, regional sustainability, digital engagement, and advanced Geographic Information System (GIS) modeling and analysis.

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Winston–Salem / Forsyth County, North Carolina — 2014

Legacy 2030 Comprehensive Plan

Legacy 2030 Comprehensive Plan identifies a list of strategies, policies, and actions to help Winston-Salem/Forsyth County become more sustainable, better designed, and more fiscally responsible. Legacy 2030 Comprehensive Plan connects health and equity to the physical form of the county, focuses on ways to catalyze private investment, and makes the case that higher density and mixed-use urban areas yield a higher return on strategic public investments.

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Cincinnati, Ohio — 2014

Plan Cincinnati: A Comprehensive Plan for the Future

Plan Cincinnati focuses on revitalizing Cincinnati's neighborhood centers and corridors while improving citizen's physical health and quality of life. In a shift from traditional comprehensive plans, Plan Cincinnati is organized around five initiatives — compete, connect, live, sustain, and collaborate.

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Lake, Porter and LaPorte Counties, Indiana — 2013

2040 Comprehensive Regional Plan: A Vision for Northwest Indiana

The Northwestern Indiana Regional Planning Commission's (NIRPC) 2040 Comprehensive Regional Plan (CRP) represents the first broad planning initiative covering the counties of Lake, Porter, and LaPorte. The CRP focuses on a variety of issues including transportation, land use, human and economic resources, and environmental policy objectives. The objective is to offer residents more transportation choices, and making the cities more sustainable and livable.

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New York, New York — 2012

Vision 2020: New York City Comprehensive Waterfront Plan

Vision 2020: New York City Comprehensive Waterfront Plan creates a strategic framework for the city's waterfront, waterways, and water for the next 10 years. The plan is organized around eight goals: expand public access, enliven the waterfront, support the working waterfront, improve water quality, restore the natural waterfront, enhance the Blue Network (the waterways themselves), improve government oversight, and increase climate resilience.

The HUD Secretary's Opportunity & Empowerment Award


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Louisville, Kentucky — 2019

Family Scholar House and Marian Development

Founded in 1995 as Project Women, Family Scholar House (FSH) provides comprehensive, holistic services for disadvantaged single parents, their children, and foster alumni. The nonprofit seeks to end the cycle of poverty and transform communities by empowering families and youth to succeed in education and life-long self-sufficiency. FSH provides supportive housing, educational programming, and participant advocacy to help families gain independence.

Bioswales and rain gardens line the low side of each street to collect storm water run-off in an area formerly plagued by storm water damage and wet basements.
Milwaukee, Wisconsin — 2018

Westlawn Gardens

Wisconsin's largest public housing neighborhood has transformed through a participatory planning process that placed focus on creating sustainable, weather-resistant units that also improved poor air quality with on-site stormwater management strategies. The neighborhood was designed to encourage social connection through a pedestrian-oriented layout around a centrally located elementary school, playground, and community center. The Westlawn Gardens project continues to create a thriving mixed-income community, and its master plan provides prescriptive measures to intermix public and affordable housing alongside market-rate housing.

Continuum of Care (CoC) Meeting – engages a broad cross-section of community members in planning work around housing and homeless solutions.
Dayton and Montgomery, Ohio — 2016

Homeless Solutions Community 10-Year Plan

Changing the approach from 'managing' to ending chronic homelessness, the Homeless Solutions 10-Year Plan is data-driven and based on best-practice models to drive a creative, coordinated and collaborative approach to tackling the moral and economic challenges of homelessness. The plan has been formally adopted by the City of Dayton, Montgomery County, Ohio, and the United Way of the Greater Dayton Area, and its governance structure has been used as a model to shape other community initiatives on substance abuse, ex-offender reentry, and poverty reduction.

Mueller Redevelopment received the 2015 HUD Secretary's Opportunity & Empowerment Award.
Austin, Texas — 2015

Mueller Redevelopment – City of Austin Economic Development

The construction of Interstate 35 created a deep divide in Austin, Texas. When talk of expanding the Mueller Municipal Airport expansion began, it instead came with a vision to redevelop the site into a sustainable, diverse, affordable community to help revitalize East Austin. The Mueller Redevelopment and Reuse Plan established goals for the project and has since continued to deliver a community vision and a national model for affordable housing, sustainability, and compact development, as well as a public engagement process where citizens have a say in what happens with city assets.

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Anchorage, Alaska — 2014

Mountain View Village

The Cook Inlet Housing Authority (CIHA) selected Mountain View Village for its revitalization initiative, targeting blighted and deteriorated housing. Their goals included: decreased absentee landlordism, increased homeownership, and demolition of blighted, deteriorated, or vacant structures. Early results show the effort of the last eight years is paying off — household incomes are on the rise; local schools are seeing increased parent participation and better student scores; and more people are choosing to live in Mountain View Village and are staying in their residences longer.

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Augusta, Georgia — 2013

Restoring the American City: Augusta's Laney Walker/Bethlehem

The Laney Walker/Bethlehem Revitalization Initiative involves two historic African American neighborhoods and is a pioneering effort to reverse decades of blight and disinvestment and regenerate nearly 1,100 acres of Augusta's urban center. The project addresses a number of needs and community objectives outlined in the Augusta-Richmond County Comprehensive Plan, including affordable housing, access to jobs and services, open space, blight abatement, infill development, and preservation of local heritage.

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Ohkay Owingeh, New Mexico — 2013

Owe'neh Bupingeh Preservation Plan

Ohkay Owingeh is the first Pueblo tribe to develop a comprehensive preservation plan that guides practical housing improvements according to cultural values. The Owe'neh Bupingeh Rehabilitation Project is a multi-year, affordable housing, rehabilitation project within the historic core of the tribe's village center. Families have been provided with quality, affordable housing that is culturally appropriate, and the effort has energized a tribal discussion of larger cultural preservation issues.

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Wilmington, North Carolina — 2012

Robert R. Taylor Homes / NorthSide Revitalization

In NorthSide, a complex of barrack-style public housing units called the Taylor Homes was demolished. In response, the Wilmington Housing Authority led the efforts to secure funding for rebuilding. In place of the older housing, three unique properties were built, reflecting the historic architecture of the surrounding community, offering housing choices to low-income residents, and serving as a community anchor for the NorthSide Plan.

Pierre L'Enfant International Planning


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Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada — 2019

Northeast False Creek Plan

Adopted by the Vancouver City Council in February 2018, the 20-year Northeast False Creek Plan calls for the replacement of aging and decaying viaducts, or approximately 2.6 kilometers of elevated freeways, with a new mixed-use development and waterfront community. What began as an infrastructure project, however, has evolved into a transformative planning process about people, reconciliation, cultural redress, and reconnecting communities.

A proposed arts school intends to infuse the district with fresh talent and ideas, and outdoor plazas and streets are often used for fashion shows and large-art installations.
Beijing, China — 2018

The 798 Arts District

Once a facility that manufactured weapons components, the 798 factory and surrounding industrial district is now the epicenter of an emerging arts district under The 798 Arts District Vision Plan. Over the course of a decade, factory buildings and vacant lots have been transformed into a thriving art community of museums, galleries, cafes, and cultural events. The 798 Plan was successful in creating a long-term strategy for creating jobs, generating revenue from district businesses, and increasing land values, and its economic model is followed by other arts districts. The 798 Plan also shows how adaptive reuse of architecturally distinct buildings can transform an entire area and save it from the wrecking ball.

Odisha, India — 2017

Bhubaneswar Smart City Plan

The Bhubaneswar Smart City Plan redefines the concept of "smart cities" and outlines a citizen-driven vision for the future by using technology to help residents gain better access to city services, and improve the overall quality of life. The goal was to engage residents in discussions to identify which groups had access to technology and city services, which groups did not, and how to close that gap.

Render from 2015 International Award winner, Tecnológico de Monterrey Urban Regeneration Plan
Monterrey, Mexico — 2015

Tecnológico de Monterrey Urban Regeneration Plan

The first planned university in Mexico, Tecnológico de Monterrey (Monterrey Tec), along with a consultant team, undertook a planning process that captures the essence of the original plan but reflects a new education vision and sets the stage for continued expansion of Tec's role in the neighborhood, both in Monterrey and beyond. The plan also focuses on helping reverse patterns of urban decline and return Monterrey to its reputation as the safest city in Central America.

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Beijing, China — 2014

The Songzhuang Arts and Agriculture City

The Songzhuang Arts and Agriculture City master plan offers an innovative approach to the integration of agriculture and the urban environment along the eastern fringe of Beijing. In response to the quickly evolving land outside of Beijing, the plan proposes a series of self-sustaining communities with farmland located at the core and urban development along the periphery of the community. This approach allows for more diverse internal edge conditions that foster greater interaction between the cultivated landscape and urban fabric

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Puebla, Mexico — 2013

The Valsequillo Initiative

The Valsequillo Initiative is a planning effort not only to improve the quality of urban areas growing around the Valsequillo Reservoir and increase opportunities for area residents and remediate decades of environmental degradation. The initiative's goals were to improve the quality of urban areas growing around the reservoir, increase employment opportunities, remediate decades of environmental degradation while avoiding the conventional approach of increasing residential and industrial areas through infrastructure expansion and rapid urban development.

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Petra Region, Jordan — 2012

Strategic Master Plan | Petra Region, Jordan

Recently named one of the "New Seven Wonders of the World," the Petra region of Jordan is now facing multiple challenges, including unplanned tourism growth, environmental degradation, population growth, and limited water availability. A multidisciplinary team was assembled to create the region's Strategic Master Plan, which includes provisions for watershed management, addresses dependencies on unsustainable tourism practices, provides opportunities for economic diversification, and proposals for managing regional transportation impacts associated with mass tourism.

Planning AdvocateS


Tollakson participates in a paddle outing with local elected officials to help build awareness of the Water Trails project.
Des Moines, Iowa — 2018

Rick Tollakson

As chair of the steering committee for the Greater Des Moines Water Trails and Greenways Master Plan, Tollakson took an active and highly visible role to gain public support for improving Des Moines waterways. The success of his efforts proves that private-sector developers can successfully advocate for good planning and be a champion for citizens' initiatives.

Port Chairwoman Ann Moore participates with Congressman Scott Peters and Port Vice Chairman Bob Nelson in a news conference in 2013 at one of the Port's maritime cargo terminals, illustrating Moore's collaboration with federal agencies.
Port of San Diego, California — 2016

Ann Moore

Recognizing that the Port of San Diego was planning reactively instead of proactively, Commissioner Ann Moore spearheaded an ambitious, multi-year planning program. Under Moore's leadership, the Port launched an integrated planning initiative to create a vision for the Port for the next 50 years.

Thumbnail photo of 2015 Planning Advocate Greg Cox
San Diego County, California — 2015

Greg Cox

San Diego County Supervisor Greg Cox is a champion of active transportation, open space and preservation, and outdoor recreation. He has been instrumental in leading the planning of some very exciting transportation projects across the southern part of the San Diego region including the development of a regional 24-mile bike path around San Diego Bay, which has been nationally recognized for its community-wide accessibility.

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Gretna, Louisiana — 2014

Cynthia Lee-Sheng

Cynthia Lee-Sheng has been instrumental in supporting planning efforts to address the community development challenges and chronic disinvestment facing the 134-acre area in Jefferson Parish known as "Fat City." Lee-Sheng collaborated with a citizen-led planning task force and successfully persuaded the city council to adopt the Fat City strategic plan as a component of the parish's comprehensive plan.

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Riverside, California — 2013

Michael Osur

Under Michael Osur's leadership, the Riverside County Department of Public Health set a strategic goal of addressing the built environment and quality of life issues by focusing on the connection between community design and public health as it relates to physical activity, healthy eating, and injury prevention.

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State of Maryland — 2012

Martin O'Malley

Governor Martin O'Malley has continued the legacy of planning innovation in Baltimore that started nearly 50 years ago. Concerned that homes were being built on state farmland and forest land far quicker than the rate of population growth, O'Malley developed a multi-pronged approach to promote smarter growth in Maryland.

Planning LandmarkS


An urban renewal project in Seattle's Cherry Hill neighborhood. Source: Seattle Municipal Archives.
National Planning Landmark — 2014

Housing Act of 1949

The Housing Act of 1949 was passed to help address the decline of urban housing following the exodus to the suburbs. In addition to improving the available housing stock, the program made open space land, neighborhood facilities, and basic water and sewer facilities eligible for federal assistance.

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United Kingdom — 2014

Royal Town Planning Institute

In the UK, the Town Planning Institute, the predecessor organization to the Royal Town Planning Institute was established and focused on three goals: advancing the study of town-planning; promoting the artistic and scientific development of towns and cities; and promoting the interests of those engaged in town planning.

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Pasadena, California — 2012

The 1925 Bennett Plan of the City of Pasadena

Pasadena's 1925 plan was created by Edward H. Bennett, protege of Chicagoan and renowned planner Daniel Burnham. Bennett's plan included architectural concepts and strategies to extend the landscapes of its east-west streets and boulevards and implementation of a zoning ordinance. Over eight decades, the city and its residents vowed to preserve its ten historic landmarks while pursuing various community rehabilitation initiatives.

Thumbnail for previous awards page. Photo from GSA.gov, U.S. Census Bureau, Bowie, MD.
National Planning Landmark — 2012

Guiding Principles for Federal Architecture

The Guiding Principles for Federal Architecture are still inspiring and shaping the mission of the Public Buildings Service and have become the cornerstone of the General Services Administration's Design Excellence Program. They have elevated attention to design and the integration of planning, architecture, public art and the landscape into a public realm of beauty and utility.

Planning Pioneers


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Silver Spring, Maryland — 2019

Mary Means

An award-winning community planner and innovator, Mary Means sparked and has led the movement in main street revitalization for nearly four decades. Now known as Main Street America, the program she began provides an integrated framework to help communities transform their economies, leverage local leadership, and improve residents' quality of life. Today, Means is a popular conference speaker and continues to help public interest clients envision and build the consensus to make their communities better places to live and work.

Professor McCoy enjoys lunch with a colleague. Friends recall her easy grace and interest in the careers of those she mentored.
Los Angeles, California — 2018

Marita Piel McCoy, FAICP

A true advocate for the planning profession, Margarita Piel McCoy, FAICP, became the first woman appointed to a full professorship of urban planning at a major university, and the first woman to chair a planning department in the U.S. As an educator, McCoy helped thousands of students gain practical technical knowledge that prepared them for successful planning careers. As a practitioner, she advised communities on comprehensive plans that achieved their goals while addressing the needs of underserved individuals.

In his 45-year career, Larry Witzling has overseen numerous award-winning urban design projects throughout Wisconsin.  Photo courtesy of GRAEF.
Milwaukee, Wisconsin — 2017

Lawrence P. Witzling, PhD, AIA, ASLA

For more than four decades, Larry Witzling has inspired generations of planners and urban designers. As an active practitioner, and as a professor at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee (UWM), Witzling has shared his extensive knowledge with students and aspiring professionals. He has always encouraged his students and colleagues to push the boundaries of innovation and excellence in their work.

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Los Angeles, California — 2015

Donald Shoup, FAICP

A Distinguished Professor of Urban Planning at UCLA, Donald Shoup has extensively studied parking as a key link between transportation and land use, with important consequences for cities, the economy, and the environment. He also is the editor of ACCESS magazine, which makes transportation research useful for policymakers and planning practitioners, and helps catapult academic research into the public policy debate.

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Harrisburg, Pennsylvania — 2014

Irving Hand, FAICP

Professor Irving Hand, FAICP, has had a significant national impact on the planning profession, especially on developing a regional planning approach. In the early 1950s, he played an instrumental role in establishing the Tulsa, Oklahoma, Metropolitan Area Planning Commission. He helped facilitate the creation of the Metropolitan Government of Nashville and Davidson County in 1962. He also spearheaded the development of Pennsylvania's first Appalachian Development Plan.

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Philadelphia, Pennsylvania — 2014

Robert Venturi and Denise Scott Brown

Partners and owners of Venturi Scott Brown and Associates, the husband and wife team focused their work on how people interact with their environments and each other. Their landmark book, Learning from Las Vegas (1972), explored everyday urbanism, urban sprawl, and ordinary buildings. It also reintroduced the idea of communication as a function of architecture, especially in cities.

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Brooklyn, New York — 2013

Ronald Shiffman, FAICP

During Ronald Shiffman's 50 years as a city planner, he has provided program and organizational development assistance to community-based groups in low- and moderate-income neighborhoods. Trained as an architect and urban planner, he is an expert in community-based planning, housing, and sustainable development. He has had extensive experience bringing together private and public sector sponsors of housing and related community development projects.