Last week, the Congress for New Urbanism (CNU) awarded a team from the University of Maryland’s architecture program the Grand Prize in the Academic Category at the 22nd annual Congress for the New Urbanism Charter Awards. The award recognized the team’s 2012 innovative re-envisioning of the Schuylkill River waterfront and 30th Street Station area in the heart of Philadelphia, one of three designs selected for academic prizes from a formidable pool of student-led entries from universities around the world.
The team members—now newly minted alumni with master’s degrees in architecture—are Jacob Bialek, Emma Crenshaw, Mark Elliot, Tamir Ezzat, Julian Goldman, Eric Joerdens, Katrina McRainey and Michael Taylor. The project was designed as part of ARCH 700, an urban design studio course taught by Professor Matthew Bell, FAIA. This is the second award the team has won for their Philadelphia waterfront design; they also received a jury prize at the Philadelphia Center for Architecture’s Ed Bacon Student Design Competition in 2012.
“This is quite an exciting win for the School and speaks volumes about the talent and expertise of Professor Bell and the architecture program,” said David Cronrath, Dean of the School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation. “We are very proud of the team’s achievement.”
The Congress for the New Urbanism is the leading organization promoting walkable, mixed-use neighborhood development, sustainable communities and healthy living. Their annual Congress brings together architects, urban designers, planners, developers and advocates from around the world to network, learn and collaborate. This year’s Congress recognized twenty professional projects and three academic designs, selected by a prestigious jury of design professionals for their excellence in fulfilling and advancing the principals of the Charter of the New Urbanism.
Maryland’s winning design addresses the challenge of interweaving new and diverse neighborhoods with major transportation corridors, using the City of Philadelphia as a case study. The master plan stitches together the east and west parts of the city presently divided by Amtrak’s main corridor and Route I-76. The design’s highlight is a series of places that connect vibrant pedestrian districts to a new riverside esplanade, maintaining critical transit thoroughfares running seamlessly underneath.
Juror and Arizona-based architect Will Bruder noted that the project was “…the most professionally presented un-built work in the competition.” He continued to say the entry offered, “big ideas, a beautiful sense of livability and invention at both the large scale and the fine grain. Their plan, in its organization and depth of visual richness, is a standout example of contemporary thinking..."
The CNU also recognized Professor Bell on the professional stage, awarding his Perkins Eastman team the award for Best Civic Building for the new Dunbar High School in Washington, D.C.
“Our Philadelphia proposal is an important award, not just for the team, but for the program,” said Bell. “It offers a glimpse at some of the fine work and innovative thinking happening at Maryland. I believe the professional design world is taking notice.”