National Urban Design Awards — Call for Submissions


The Royal Architectural Institute of Canada, the Canadian Institute of Planners (CIP), and the Canadian Society of Landscape Architects (CSLA) are pleased to announce the Call for Submissions for the 2020 National Urban Design Awards

NEW submission deadline: 11:59 p.m. EST, December 19, 2019

Urban design plays an important role in maintaining and enhancing the quality of life in Canadian communities.

The Royal Architectural Institute of Canada, Canadian Institute of Planners and the Canadian Society of Landscape Architects – in cooperation with Canadian municipalities – work closely to promote awareness of that role. In 2006, the three groups established the National Urban Design Awards program to recognize individuals, organizations, firms, and projects in Canada that have contributed to the quality of life and the sustainability of Canadian cities.

The National Urban Design Awards program encourages the submission of multidisciplinary projects involving planners, landscape architects, architects, and other disciplines. The program recognizes the importance and impact of inter and multidisciplinary teams in enhancing the qualify of life in Canadian communities.


There are six different categories of urban design projects. One award will be bestowed for each category.  The jury has the discretion to change the category in which a project is submitted.

                           Urban Design Plans                     Urban Fragments

                           Urban Architecture                      Community Initiatives Award

                           Civic Design Projects                    Student Projects

Two Submission Options

a. Local Urban Design Awards

Municipalities with a local Urban Design Awards program (tier 1) will invite their Award of Excellence winners in 2019/2020 to submit to the National Urban Design Awards Program.

b. Submissions at Large

Any individual or organization in a Canadian urban municipality can submit a project that is in conformance with the submission requirements. The best submission in each category will be considered, together with the winning projects from the local Urban Design Awards programs, in the adjudication of the medals. 


A Jury will adjudicate all categories of awards. The Jury members are:

Susan Fitzgerald, FRAIC

Susan Fitzgerald, FRAIC is the design director at FBM and an assistant professor at Dalhousie University in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada. Her work, with FBM and independently with Susan Fitzgerald Architecture, has been the recipient of many accolades—including the Canada Council for the Arts Professional Prix de Rome, Governor General’s Medal in Architecture, the Wood Design Award, the EnRoute Air Canada Award in partnership with the RAIC, Maritime Design Awards, and multiple Lieutenant Governors’ Awards including the Medal of Excellence.

In addition, the work has been nominated for multiple Mies’ Crown Hall Americas Prizes (IIT College of Architecture) for the best work in the Americas. Widely exhibited and published, her specific approach to practice was showcased in Elke Krasny’s international exhibition ‘Thinking out Loud: The Making of Architecture’.

Since 2014 she has been running a master’s design studio in Havana, Cuba in close collaboration with Superior Politécnico José Antonio Echeverría studying the infrastructure of the city. Susan was made a fellow of the RAIC in 2015.

Jean Trottier, CSLA, MPPI, RPP

Jean Trottier is Associate Professor in the Department of Landscape Architecture at the University of Manitoba, where he teaches graduate and undergraduate urban design courses since 2001. He holds a degree in landscape architecture from the Université de Montréal and a Master’s degree in Urban Planning from McGill University. Before dedicating himself full-time to academic life he worked in both public and private sectors in Quebec, British Columbia, and Alberta.

Jean currently chairs the editorial board of Landscapes | Paysages Magazine and is a member of the Canadian Landscape Architecture Accreditation Council. He serves on the board of directors of the Council for Canadian Urbanism and is past Chair of Winnipeg’s Urban Design Advisory Committee.

Doug Leighton, RPP MCIP

Doug has over thirty-five years’ international experience as a planner, architect, urban designer, consultant and development industry executive. A proponent of urban design and sustainable development, he has a record of successful projects, awards, innovation and leadership.

As VP Sustainability for Brookfield Residential Properties, Doug created and executed the company’s strategy for North American leadership in sustainable homebuilding and land development. As Principal of a leading New Zealand consultancy he built its urban design practice and led major waterfront, airport, housing, community and resort projects. As founding Planning Director for Banff he led initiatives such as Banff’s downtown redevelopment, and as Whistler Senior Planner the creation of Village North and redevelopment of Whistler Creek.

Doug holds undergraduate (BA Hons - Geography) and Masters (ME Des - Architecture) degrees from the University of Calgary with post-graduate studies at Harvard and Queens.

A co-founder of Urban Design Forum New Zealand, Doug helped develop that country’s national urban design policy. He has served on the Whistler, Banff, Auckland, Victoria and Calgary design panels; and as a Director of the New Zealand, Alberta and British Columbia Planning Institutes.

He currently teaches urban design at the University of Calgary, serves on several boards and advises clients on urban design, planning and sustainable development.

Category Details

1. Urban Design Plans

This category is for a plan or study of a significant area within a Canadian municipality that provides a development or redevelopment strategy for inspired urban transformation in the mid-to-long-term. Urban design studies, master plans, redevelopment strategies, and community plans with the potential for significant impact on the community’s sustainability or development, are eligible in this category.

The plan or study must have been completed after January 1, 2013.

Criteria for Award: The primary criteria for assessing the merit of the plan are:

  • Comprehensiveness – addressing a wide a range of factors affecting development including energy efficiency and other environmental factors;
  • Innovative approach – proposals that highlight new ideas and approaches to interventions in the city;
  • Clarity of presentation – understandable, readable and well-illustrated graphically

2. Urban Architecture

This category is for a building (or group of buildings) of high architectural standards which achieves urban design excellence through its relationship with its immediate surroundings because of its site, massing, and pedestrian amenities. The building will also contribute to defining a special relationship with the neighbouring urban fabric.

The project sits within the boundaries of a Canadian municipality and was designed by an architect. Special consideration will be given to buildings that also achieve, or are capable of achieving, a green building rating. This category is open only to registered architects and a license number or proof of registration is required.

The new building, renovated building, or complex of buildings must have been completed after January 1, 2013.

Criteria for Award: The primary criteria for assessing the merit of the plan will be:

  • Compatibility with the urban initiative;
  • Positive contribution to the public realm;
  • Architectural excellence;
  • Demonstration of the value of urban design – how the urban design plan directed and influenced the building

3. Civic Design Projects

This category is for civic improvement projects such as a park, public space, civil engineering or environmental infrastructure, street furniture, lighting, and other elements implemented as the result of an urban design plan or initiative.

The project is located within the boundaries of a Canadian municipality and was designed by an architect, landscape architect, or an engineer. This category is open to registered design professionals (architects, engineers, registered planners, and landscape architects).  A license number or proof of registration is required.

The project must have been completed or installed after January 1, 2013.

Criteria for Award: The primary criteria for assessing the merit of the plan will be:

  • Compatibility with the urban plan;
  • Positive contribution to the public realm;
  • Design excellence;
  • Demonstration of the value of urban design – how the urban design plan or initiative directed and influenced the space or the objects.

4. Urban Fragments

This category is for single, small-scale pieces of a building or landscape that contribute significantly to the quality of the public realm. The category includes small and modest elements such as street furniture, lighting elements, interpretation media, memorials, public art or other forms of intervention that contribute to the beautification, sustainability, enjoyment, and appreciation of the urban environment. Projects can be of a temporary (but not ephemeral) or permanent nature.

The project must have been installed after January 1, 2013.

Criteria for Award: The primary criteria for assessing the proposals will be:

  • Positive contribution to the public realm;
  • Design excellence;
  • Innovation and uniqueness of the element

5. Community Initiatives Award

This category is for any built project, however modest, initiated or implemented by a community-based organization that has enhanced the public realm. Examples may include streetscaping, public art, commemorative or interpretive installations, and environmental initiatives.

The project must have been completed after January 1, 2013.

Criteria for Award: The primary criteria for assessing the merit of the plan will be:

  • Broad community involvement – demonstration of how the community-at-large was involved and supported the improvements;
  • Positive contribution to the public realm;
  • Conceptual clarity and execution of the improvement;
  • Innovation and uniqueness of the built project

6. Student Projects

The category is administered through participating Canadian Universities. Submissions may also be made directly from a student enrolled in an accredited program in architecture, landscape architecture, or urban planning, in the past two years. Each school or individual student may forward submissions in the following categories:

  • A submission from a studio with an emphasis on urban design;
  • A submission as a result of a final project or an individual thesis.

Note: The entry fee does not apply to Students Projects.

Special Jury Awards

In addition, there will be two special jury awards selected from the submissions received in the following categories.

  • Sustainable Development Award: A project, from within any of the categories that the jury deems best demonstrates the principles of sustainable urban development, while also exemplifying sensitive urban design. 
  • Small or Medium Community Urban Design Award: A project, from within any of the categories, situated in an urban centre of fewer than 500,000 inhabitants, that demonstrates the value of urban design in a mid-sized community.

Procedures for Entry

Submission Date

Submissions must be received before 11:59 p.m. EST, Thursday, December 19, 2019. Entrants are solely responsible for timely submissions. This date and time are firm without exceptions.

Entry Fee

An entry fee must accompany each submission that is not from a municipally administered local urban design awards program or a school or university.

Base fee of $415.00

  • GST included (MB, AB, SK, YK, NWT, BC, NU) -  $435.75
  • QST/GST included (QC) -  $477.15
  • HST included (ON) -  $468.95
  • HST included (NB, NF, NS, PEI) -  $477.25

Payment by credit card accompany each entry.


Submissions will be completed using the NEW online submission platform.

The following items must be provided: 

1. Participant Identification Form;
2. Summary Sheet;
3. Project Descriptions;
4. Descriptive Data Sheet;
5. Project Proposal Report;
6. Key List of Images;
7. Publication Release Form;
8. Disclaimer and Declaration Form.

Entries can be submitted either in English or in French.

1.   Participation Identification Form

All credits on certificates, medals and publicity will be based on this information. Any errors or omissions will be the responsibility of the entrant. All information must be typed.
Full credit must be given. If more than one individual is credited for a single project, the order in which names are listed will be the official sequence.

2.   Summary Sheet

A one-page description of the project or program that includes a statement of the problem and its goals, size, and cost, if applicable.

3.   Project Descriptions

Two descriptions are required:
1)     A 500-word maximum statement on one page outlining the objectives and significance of the project and summarizing for the jury why the project or program is considered worthy of a medal. This text should be conceived to be accessible to the general public.
2)     A 100-word maximum media statement crafted for website postings and media campaigns.

4.   Descriptive Data Sheet

Including the Completion or adoption date, provide a brief (maximum two pages) statement outlining urban design issues and key urban design concepts that emphasize process and implementation with a description of the merits.

5.   Project Proposal Report

This is the opportunity for the team to provide a narrative and tell the "story" of the project. In other words, the genesis of the project, how did it come to be what it is in the submission. The team can combine text, sketches, drawings and photos in a report format of no more than 15 pages.

6.   Publication Release Form

7.   Disclaimer and Declaration Form

8.   Key List of Images

As per item 9. Images described below, the Key List of Images should include image file name, a brief description and photographer credits where applicable for each image provided.

9.   Images

All images used in a composite image (image composed of several images) must be provided as individual image files.

Electronic images must comply with the following specifications:

  • Only JPEG image-format saved at high-quality/low-compression setting are acceptable. Low-quality/high-compression JPEGs will not be accepted.
  • Images must be provided in high resolution and at the original size (no resampling).
  • All images should be in RGB color mode (CMYK will not be accepted).
  • All file names are composed of a number followed by a title. Single digit numbers must start with zero "0" (ex.: "01title.jpg"). Do not use punctuation or symbols.
  • Compressed archive files (.zip, .sit) will not be accepted.

Note: Once you have started the online submission process, you may 'save' and come back at a later date to complete your submission (prior to the submission deadline).


Recipients will be notified privately immediately following adjudication. All submissions become the property of the RAIC/CIP/CSLA. Submission materials will not be returned.

The public announcement and an awards ceremony will be held later in 2020. Travel to the ceremony for the recipients is at their own expense. Entrants who are not selected will be notified by letter. Results will not be released over the telephone.

All recipients of winning submissions must produce two display panels. All panels must be made from 1/2” thick gatorboard, 20” x 20” in size. Detailed specifications will be provided.

The Royal Architectural Institute of Canada, the Canadian Institute of Planners, and the Canadian Society of Landscape Architects must be included in all media/newspaper releases and announcements regarding the medal by winning candidates.


These terms and conditions may be amended from time to time by the RAIC/CIP/CSLA, in their sole discretion. Notification of any amendment to these terms and conditions shall be deemed to have been given to the Applicant, by 10:00 a.m. on the first business day after publication of the amended terms and conditions on the web site of the RAIC/CIP/CSLA, which is presently accessed through

For more information

Tel: (613) 241-3600 x 2015

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