Winning Strategies

Urban Open Space

ULI receives nearly 75 entries annually for the ULI Urban Open Space Award. Of those, five finalists and one winner are selected. How do these projects stand out among their peers? Below are some tips and winning strategies that will give your submission the best chance to succeed.

Make Sure Your Project Is Eligible.
Projects must be located in an urbanized area. Urbanized areas may range from large cities to suburban town centers to small towns. But projects such as greenways or nature preserves in nonurban or rural areas will not be considered by the jury. Please refer to the Criteria section on the application for eligibility requirements. If you still are not sure whether your project is eligible, write to for further clarification.

Applicants Are Welcome to Resubmit Projects.
Some members of the awards jury are new each year, bringing new perspectives and points of emphasis to the table. The applicant field also changes from year to year, both in size and quality, and your project may have benefited from another year of maturation. Contact the ULI awards staff for tips for improving your application.

Good Images Are Critical.
Images that accurately represent the character and use of your project are instrumental in the jury’s decision-making process. Be sure that your images include people using the space and give the jury a sense of the project in relation to its surroundings. Provide a contact sheet with captions for each image for reference, and please include photographer credits. All images must be high resolution (300 dpi at 8″ x 11″) because they may be used in future ULI publications. All images should be in electronic format (JPEG or TIFF).

Focus on the Project Description.
The project description should be direct and succinct. Focus on what sets your project apart from others, and most important, describe the impact—economic, social, and environmental—the space has had on its surrounding area. Be sure to provide project metrics wherever possible, because concrete numbers help the jury make its decision. Also, include relevant literature on your project—newspaper and magazine articles, blog posts, etc.—that will offer an objective perspective of your project.

Pick One Person to Serve as the Primary Contact.
Decide who will devote focused attention to completing the submission, and include the contact’s name, title, telephone number, and e-mail address. You may wish to use the team members who developed the project to help draft responses to the application. However, the application will be most effective if one person coordinates and processes all information. If your project is selected as a finalist, this person will be ULI’s main point of contact for the site visit and award ceremony.

Keep It Simple.
It may be tempting to create a custom application package, but no jury member will see it. Each submission—application, attached literature, and project images—is presented to the jury in an identical manner to ensure objectivity. All extraneous material and packaging will be thrown away. Keep the focus on presenting the project information and images in a clear, concise manner.

2016 Schedule

Applications open:
December 1, 2015

Submissions early-bird deadline:
January 22, 2016

Submissions final deadline:
February 22, 2016

Finalists announced:
May 2016

Site visits by jury representatives:
May–August 2016

Winners announced/award ceremony:
Fall Meeting in Dallas, Texas, October 25–28, 2016

For additional information, e-mail

2015 Finalists