For more than 50 years, APA's National Planning Awards have honored planning efforts, initiatives, and individuals working to make safer, stronger, and more just communities for all.
"Planning helps connect people to create a shared vision for the future of their community," said Kristen Asp, AICP, APA awards jury chair. "This year's recipients demonstrate the power of people and planning in creating a strong future."
Daniel Burnham Award for a Comprehensive Plan
GSO2040 Comprehensive Plan
Greensboro, North Carolina
GSO2040 is Greensboro, North Carolina's roadmap for how to equitably plan for change. Shaped by extensive public input, the plan is designed to be a living document that adapts to the community's changing needs. Set apart by clear metrics and implementation updates from departments across the city, GSO2040 is a model for ongoing accountability and ensuring a plan remains accessible and relevant to the people it serves.
Six Big Ideas frame the plan's goals in easy to understand, memorable phrases that empower community members to better participate in conversations about zoning and other planning issues.
Strategies to promote racial and social equity, diversity, and inclusion are incorporated into all six Big Ideas and central to GSO2040's Vision.
A baseline of best practices and emerging patterns established through extensive research — including a "Data Book" covering city statistics and a "Conditions and Trends Report" analyzing national trends — allows Greensboro to make decisions with an eye toward the future.
Through partnerships, pop-up events, online outreach and more, the planning team gathered and elevated input from historically underrepresented groups to more equitably represent the full range of community perspectives.
The input process for GSO2040 expanded the community's awareness of planners and the planning process through educational outreach, use of plain language versus jargon, and a speaker series that introduced planning concepts to the public.
Implementation updates feature activities from departments across the entire city, giving everyone a stake in the plan and ensuring GSO2040 continues to be relevant to the community it serves.
Jury said: "This is an excellent comp plan set apart by clear metrics and communication."
Advancing Diversity and Social Change in Honor of Paul Davidoff
Joe Louis Greenway Framework Plan
Planning Team: City of Detroit General Services Department; JLG Community Advisory Council; SmithGroup; Studio Incognita; Sidewalk Detroit; Toole Design; HR&A; Funding from The Ralph C. Wilson Jr. Foundation
The Joe Louis Greenway (JLG) Framework Plan aims to reconnect neighborhoods and green spaces with a 27.5-mile nonmotorized trail. Shaped by a community-authored planning process, JLG celebrates Detroit's vibrant mix of cultures while prioritizing the community's goals for environmental sustainability, equitable housing and economic development standards, visual identity, and accessible open space amenities.
The greenway's alignment will connect 23 neighborhoods and five cities (Detroit, Dearborn, Hamtramck, Highland Park, and Windsor).
The planning team's focus on inclusive, multi-lingual public engagement brought a wide range of community voices to the table while fostering citizen advocacy and activism.
Residents were encouraged to voice concerns about issues such as displacement, which resulted in a public panel where community members could continue to ask questions. This process built greater trust with the community, and many continue to use the plan as a tool for neighborhood stabilization and a model for proactively addressing displacement.
The planning process advanced a critical dialogue on equitable economic development benefits. This equity conversation continues to move forward. For example, community members from the Midwest neighborhood formed the nonprofit Greenway Heritage Conservancy to advocate for zoning reform for both residents and small businesses. Residents near the greenway have purchased adjacent commercial and residential properties.
Detroit’s Planning and Development Department is building off the framework plan to develop a neighborhood planning study centered around the Joe Louis Greenway. The study will examine the current condition of the neighborhoods and recommend strategies to support, stabilize, and equitably develop these adjacent areas.
Jury said: "This is serving residents of communities that haven't had access in the past. A great project that deserves recognition."
Resilience & Sustainability Award
Maine Won't Wait — a Four-Year Action Plan for Climate Action
Maine Won't Waitis a four-year action plan that aims to reduce Maine's carbon emissions and increase resilience to the impacts of a rapidly changing climate. Driven by clear goals and metrics combined with scientific analysis, the plan coordinates statewide action that is already seeing results. Maine Won't Wait demonstrates the importance of planning in ensuring programming and policy decisions move the needle toward a more resilient future.
Six working groups extended the reach and expertise of a 39-member council to hundreds of individuals.
Maine is realizing the practical implementation of its third goal, including an increase of installed solar from less than 70 MW in 2019 to 325 MW in October 2021.
A new website informs about climate impacts and connects people, businesses, and communities with ways to achieve concrete climate actions.
Maine has approved state budget allocations for community resilience planning, land conservation, clean energy and power sector transformation, and more.
Federal funding from the American Rescue Plan Act and the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act is now targeted at the clearly articulated strategies in the plan.
Jury said: "A massive effort well-funded by the state. Good representation of how we can do the work of educating and building consistency around actions we want to take."
Planning Excellence Award
Kansas City Public Schools Repurposing Initiative
Kansas City, Missouri
The Repurposing Initiative is Kansas City Public Schools' (KCPS) process for transforming more than 30 closed school sites into valuable neighborhood assets. By combining technical site assessments with the participatory planning process, the planning team gave community members impacted by school closures a meaningful voice in re-shaping their communities. From hundreds of affordable and workforce housing units to a community-designed neighborhood park, the KCPS Repurposing Initiative has breathed new life into these historic community spaces.
KCPS is the first school district to approach the disposition of surplus school sites with a process and framework grounded in inclusive planning principles and values.
To date, KCPS has sold 21 sites, two additional sites are under contract, three have been reused by KCPS, and two are being held for future district use.
More than 2,500 community members have attended site visits/proposal presentations and provided feedback to guide these sale/lease decisions
As the repurposing team works closely with community leaders, elected officials, neighborhood stakeholders and potential buyers to identify and evaluate reuse opportunities, there is a constant feedback loop to gauge how community members feel about the process and outcomes.
Jury said: "This is a great example of how to use planning to give a voice to people in a community who have not had one, and also help them move forward with what can often be difficult change."
JAPA Best Article Awards
The Journal of the American Planning Association(JAPA) is pleased to announce the winners of the best article awards for the 2021 volume. Thanks to editorial board members Rachel Weber, Jeffrey Lowe, and Lucie Laurian for selecting the best article award winners.
Journal of the American Planning Association, Vol. 87, No. 1
Julia Gabriele Harten
Planning Accreditation Board Site Visitors
The Planning Accreditation Board (PAB) recognizes two site visitors annually, one educator and one practitioner, for their outstanding contributions to the PAB's mission of ensuring the high quality of planning education for future urban planners.
2022 Outstanding Site Visitor Award — Educator
Eric Strauss, Ph.D., JD, AICP
Eric Strauss, Ph.D., JD, AICP
Dr. Strauss is trained as both a land use lawyer and as an urban and regional planner and has taught in a variety of disciplines. Dr. Strauss began his career working in Wisconsin at the University of Kansas where he was the chair of the graduate program in urban planning. He also taught at Indiana University, the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and Jackson State University. In 2001 he moved to Michigan State University where he was director of the urban and regional planning program. He has taught at universities in Ireland, Germany, Romania, South Korea, and Turkey. Dr. Strauss was a Fulbright Specialist in the Municipality of Panama City, Panama, focusing on urban planning and transportation issues and a Fulbright Scholar in the Faculty of Public Administration at Babes-Bolyai University in Romania. He is currently president of the Advisory Academic Council for Signage Research and Education.
2022 Outstanding Site Visitor Award — practitioner
Gloria J. Jeff, AICP
Gloria J. Jeff, AICP
Gloria J. Jeff, AICP, is an experienced transportation executive, professional, and urban planner. She is currently serving as MnDOT Metro District's Livability director. She previously served as the project director – Rethinking I-94. She has also served as principal planner at the Wichita Area Metropolitan Planning Organization (WAMPO) and acting administrator for Policy - Federal Highway Administration. Gloria has represented and led United States government delegations in international settings, transportation issues in the Asian Pacific region and the International Association of Road Congresses. She has served as the program manager for the James E. Clyburn University Transportation Center Summer Transportation Institute. Ms. Jeff holds a BSE and MSE in Civil Engineering and a Master of Urban Planning from the University of Michigan. She also has an honorary doctorate from Bennett College. She is an active member of the American Institute of Certified Planners, American Planning Association, and the Conference of Minority Transportation Officials. Ms. Jeff is co-chair of the TRB Committee on Transportation and Equity. She is also an active member of the Transportation Research Board committees on Transportation History, Public Involvement, Community Impacts, and Gender Transportation Issues.