American cities embody our nation’s greatest triumphs and most daunting challenges. At their best they showcase the rich diversity, cultural achievement, and democratic values that characterize the American spirit. At their worst they reflect our country’s most persistent social ills – economic disparity, hopelessness, neglect and abandonment. Yet there are those places that are developed with such vision and imagination that they transform urban problems into creative solutions. By recognizing these extraordinary places, the Award seeks to promote fresh and innovative thinking about cities, and to encourage us all to demand excellence in our urban environments.
Excellence exists in every city. It can be found in downtowns, in neighborhoods, in
small cities and large ones. The purpose of the Award is to discover places that embody design excellence inclusive of social, economic, and environmental factors. These places often transcend the boundaries between architecture, urban design, and planning. They are born through processes of transformation – the renewal of something old, or the creation of something new that resonates in the history of community life.
An excellent urban place involves the interplay of process, place and values. Processes
may be inclusive, innovative or participatory. Places may be grandiose or modest; new or historic, but must be well designed, and must demonstrate positive contributions to their neighborhoods and cities. Values guide the inevitable tradeoffs involved in bringing a project to life. The Award seeks to illuminate the complex process of urban placemaking, so that it may be strengthened to better reflect the balance between form and use, opportunity and cost, and preservation and change.
Prizes and Presentation
The Rudy Bruner Award for Urban Excellence
is given to five winning projects in
each biennial award cycle.
• One Gold Medal Winner receives $50,000.
• Four Silver Medal Winners are awarded $10,000 each.
• The winning projects may use prize money in any way that benefits the project.
• All winners are promoted by the Bruner Foundation and are included in a book
published by the Foundation.
• All winners will be featured in award ceremonies and in a media outreach effort.
The Selection Process
Established in 1987, the Rudy Bruner Award is distinguished from other award programs by its broad eligibility criteria, the multi-disciplinary Selection Committee,
and the detailed on-site evaluation of each finalist. Each award cycle is documented in
in-depth case studies of the winners, and in a distillation of the Selection Committee
The Foundation does not restrict the kinds of projects that may apply. Urban excellence is a dynamic and changing concept, and the award process is enriched by a diversity of applications. Rudy Bruner Award winners are not selected through an established set of criteria. Rather, the criteria emerge from the Selection Committee discussion of the applications.
Each Selection Committee includes the mayor of a major metropolitan area and other
urban experts from across the country, such as architects, planners, developers, financiers, writers, community activists, and others who know and understand cities. The Selection Committee discussion is a national forum for exploring the nature of urban excellence.The Award and its publications bring these discussions to the public domain, and make new models of urban placemaking widely available.
Rudy Bruner Award winners are frequently innovative, guided by creative visions of what is possible, often in defiance of existing norms. They may reflect complex collaborations among people who have not come together before. They are guided by leaders whose thinking leads in new directions. Their hard work is rewarded by the emergence of projects that infuse renewed energy into the urban scene. Many Rudy Bruner Award winners have succeeded, under the most adverse conditions imaginable, in creating places that have become the cornerstones of their communities.
2013 Selection Committee
Mick Cornett, Mayor, Oklahoma City, OK
Ann Coulter, Principal, A. Coulter Consulting, Chattanooga, TN
Walter Hood, Principal, Hood Design, Oakland, CA
Cathy Simon, Design Principal, Perkins+Will, San Francisco, CA
Susan S. Szenasy, Editor-in-Chief, METROPOLIS, New York, NY
Jane Werner, Executive Director, Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA
• Submissions must be received by the Foundation no later than Monday, December 10, 2012.
• Applications received after December 10, 2012 will not be considered.
• The five finalists will be notified by Monday, February 4, 2013.
• Site visits to finalist projects will take place in February, March and April 2013.
• The Gold and Silver Medal Winners will be selected and notified in May 2013.
• Presentations of the Rudy Bruner Award for Urban Excellence will be made in
May and June 2013.
The application is designed to give each project the opportunity to state its story in its
own words, and to elicit multiple perspectives on the project. Applicants are encouraged
to concentrate their efforts on providing a clear description of the project and thorough
answers to questions on the application forms. Expensive presentations are discouraged. Although visual representations of the project, such as drawings, photographs, plans, and maps are important, selection will be based upon the quality of the project rather than the elaborateness of the presentation.
How to Apply
Applications will be available immediately after Labor Day 2012, and will be in
electronic form only. Applications may be:
• Downloaded as a writable pdf from our web site: www.brunerfoundation.org/rba
• Requested by e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
• Requested by telephone at: 617-492-8404
• All requests should include the name of the person to whom the application should be sent and their title, name of organization, address (including zip code), telephone number and e-mail address.
• Bruner Foundation staff are available to assist you with any questions regarding the
application process: Phone: 617-492-8404 / E-mail: email@example.com
• Upon submission, applications become the property of the Bruner Foundation,
and will not be returned. At the close of the award cycle, applications will be permanently housed at the Lockwood Library at the State University of New York at Buffalo. Portions of winning applications will be posted on the Rudy Bruner Award web site. Complete winner applications are posted on the Rudy Bruner
Award archive web site at: http://libweb.lib.buffalo.edu/bruner
• While the application forms can be filled out electronically, completed applications
must be submitted to the Foundation by mail. All submissions must include one
hard copy of all the application materials and one CD with an electronic copy of all
Eligibility/Who May Apply
• The project must be a real place, not just a plan or program. Programs alone will
not be considered.
• Since site visits are integral to the Award process, the project must have been in
operation for a sufficient amount of time to demonstrate success.
• The project must be located in the contiguous 48 states.
• There are no distinct categories. Projects may include any type of place which
makes a positive contribution to the urban environment.
• Urban environment is broadly defined to include incorporated cities, towns, or
villages; a neighborhood within a city; an urban county; or an officially recognized
region made up of two or more cities.
• Applications may be initiated by any person who has been involved in the planning, development or operation of a project.
• Previous applicants and Honorable Mention winners may re-apply up to three times. Previous winners are not eligible.
Projects from Oklahoma City, Oklahoma are not eligible for the 2013 Award due to the participation of Mayor Cornett on the 2013 Selection Committee. We look forward to receiving Oklahoma City applications in future Award cycles.