Call for Entries: 2011 Urban Land Institute Amanda Burden Urban Open Space Award Honors Value of the Public Realm in Creating Vibrant Communities

For more information, contact Trisha Riggs 202/624-7086; email:

WASHINGTON (January 11, 2011) – Entries are now being accepted for the 2011 Urban Land Institute (ULI) Amanda Burden Urban Open Space Award, which recognizes excellence in the design and development of urban public open spaces. The award, first presented in 2010, was created by ULI through the generosity of Amanda M. Burden, Chair of the New York City Planning Commission and Director of the New York Department of City Planning, and 2009 laureate of the ULI J.C. Nichols Prize for Visionaries in Urban Development.

The ULI Amanda Burden Urban Open Space Award rewards an outstanding example of a public destination that has enriched and revitalized its surrounding community. The winner of the award will be announced at ULI’s Spring Council Forum, set for May 18–20, 2011 in Phoenix. A $10,000 cash prize will be awarded to the individual or organization most responsible for the creation of the winning open space project. The deadline for submissions to ULI is February 18, 2011.

The 2010 recipient of the award was Campus Martius Park in Detroit, a 2.5-acre thriving green space created from a desolate downtown parcel. Known as “Detroit’s Official Gathering Place,” Campus Martius Park is a vibrant central square that has become the heart of the city’s downtown redevelopment initiative. The space attracts more than 2 million visitors year-round, and has catalyzed an estimated $700 million of adjacent development, including street level cafes, retail shops, and the one-million-square-foot Compuware World Headquarters.

The award is illustrative of Amanda Burden’s strong belief in the power of well-designed public spaces to serve both as gathering places accessible to all citizens as well as catalysts for economic development. A member of the Planning Commission for 20 years, Ms. Burden was appointed in 2002 by New York Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg to serve as Commission Chair and City Planning Department Director. Under her leadership, the Department has spearheaded the largest planning effort in the city since 1961, creating a blueprint for the city for decades to come.

Her commitment to making the public realm a focal point of land use planning is apparent throughout New York, including such notable projects as the High Line, an abandoned rail line in Manhattan that has been transformed into a unique elevated linear park. The park is part of the West Chelsea/High Line Plan (a 2009 winner of ULI’s Global Award for Excellence competition), which also preserved the art gallery district and incentivized new housing for a range of incomes. More than 30 projects, many by world-renowned architects, have been catalyzed by the plan.

“It has been my life’s work to celebrate the essence of city life and to create great public open spaces,” said Ms. Burden. “All great planning comes down to the granular approach of how a building meets the street, how a street feels, how you feel walking in the city and coming to public spaces that are inviting. Public space is why you stay in the city.”

The creation of the open space award immediately followed the announcement in October 2009 of Ms. Burden being selected as the winner of the ULI J.C. Nichols Prize. The Nichols prize, awarded annually by ULI, recognizes a person whose career demonstrates a commitment to the highest standards of responsible development. The prize includes a $100,000 honorarium, which, at Ms. Burden’s suggestion, ULI devoted to an annual award honoring transformative and exciting public open spaces.

To be eligible for the competition, projects must:

  • Be located in an urbanized area in North America
  • Cover at least 10,000 square feet
  • Have been open to the public at least one year and no more than 10 years
  • Be outdoors and inviting to the public, regardless of ownership
  • Be a central, dynamic civic place, providing abundant and varied seating, sun and shade, trees and plantings with attractions and features that offer many different ways for visitors to enjoy the space
  • Be used intensively on a daily basis, and act as a magnet for a broad spectrum of users
  • Be a lively, central gathering space, serving as a public destination throughout the year
  • Have catalyzed private investment and urban regeneration in the surrounding community
  • Represent a sound investment of public funds, if public funds are involved
  • Be worthy of emulation

The competition is open to both ULI members and non-members. The 2011 entry fee is $500 for private sector applicants and $200 for public sector/nonprofit applicants.

About the Urban Land Institute
The Urban Land Institute ( is a global nonprofit education and research institute supported by its members. Its mission is to provide leadership in the responsible use of land and in creating and sustaining thriving communities worldwide. Established in 1936, the Institute has nearly 30,000 members representing all aspects of land use and development disciplines.