2020 National Urban Design
Awards announced

Winning projects range from public art installations and parks to a revitalized underpass

Via V2com

Twelve projects across Canada – each with a tremendous impact on the surrounding built environment – have been selected for the 2020 National Urban Design Awards (NUDA). The winning projects range from public art installations and parks to a revitalized underpass.

The awards are part of a two-tier program held in cooperation with Canadian municipalities. The National Urban Design Awards program judged winners of the 2020 municipal awards and entries submitted at large.

The awards in each category will be presented during the RAIC’s Conference on Architecture hosted in Edmonton from June 3-7, 2020.

The Royal Architectural Institute of Canada (RAIC), the Canadian Institute of Planners (CIP), and the Canadian Society of Landscape Architects (CLSA) are pleased to announce the 2020 National Urban Design Award winners in the following categories:

Student Projects


Topographic Urban Expansion – Toronto, ON
Qiwei Song (University of Toronto)

This project introduces a pre-emptive approach – a topographic landscape strategy that acts as an open space armature for future development on hillsides of the city. By connecting and planting hydraulic buffers along steep slopes and introducing topographic interventions in connected bands of open space, the project brings social, ecological, economic, and cultural amenities that support and sustain the inevitability of the informal growth pattern.

“A thesis project which exemplifies the interdisciplinary, problem-solving nature of the urban design.”
– Jury comment


2020 National Urban Design Awards - WestmountMag.ca

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The Drainage Filter for the Everglades – Toronto, ON
Qiwei Song, Meikang Li and Chaoyi Cui (University of Toronto)

To tackle the water pollution issue in the Everglades, this proposal is a cost-efficient alternative, and improvement, to existing expensive treatment infrastructures. The treatment areas are planned on current and future available land.

“Quite comprehensive in its integration of innovative bio-filtration strategies at a broad and complementary range of spatial scales. The representation of experiential and visual qualities – of what is primarily an eco-infrastructural proposal – is commendable.”
– Jury comment

Civic Design


Mechanized River Valley Access  – Edmonton, AB

The large elevation difference and steep slopes of the river valley are part of its great beauty, but it makes access difficult for users with mobility challenges. The Mechanized River Valley Access was imagined addressing this connectivity challenge.

“A beautifully-conceived ensemble of built structures, open spaces, and public art that successfully connects Edmonton’s downtown to the river valley. The juxtaposition of landscape attributes—in particular, its topographical and visual qualities—and the architectural details and materiality of the downtown milieu are compelling.”
– Jury comment


Berczy Park  – Toronto, ON
Claude Cormier et Associés

The revitalization of this iconic park in downtown Toronto needed to adapt to a rapidly evolving community needs that were never foreseen when the original Berczy Park was constructed 40 years ago. Next-generation needs had to be accommodated by shaping the park into three program-oriented spaces – a green area for play, a garden for dogs, and a plaza for gathering.

“The design’s real success is its ‘triangulation’ of multiple user groups, edge conditions, and in recognizing pedestrian desire lines. While the canine fountain is the focal point—or punch line—many underlying design moves make this park much more than the sum of its parts.”
– Jury comment

North East Exchange District Public Realm – Winnipeg, MB
HTFC Planning and Design—in collaboration with WSP Engineering, the City of Winnipeg & CentreVenture Development Corporation

Winnipeg’s North East Exchange District is home to a forward-looking public realm underpinned by the rich warehouse commerce story of the city. The people-first woonerfs, green lanes, plazas, and parklets of the district, buzz with activity in all seasons.

“A well-executed design with thoughtful strategic interventions that have a transformative impact on the quality and cohesiveness of Winnipeg’s North East Exchange District.”
– Jury comment

Urban Fragments

2020 National Urban Design Awards - WestmountMag.caAWARD OF EXCELLENCE

18 Shades of Gay – Montréal, QC
Claude Cormier et Associés

18 Shades of Gay, a 1-kilometre-long ribbon-like installation of 180,000 multicoloured resin balls suspended over Sainte-Catherine Street East – in the Gay Village of Montreal – is part of the transformation of the street into a pedestrian mall during the summer.

“18 Shades of Gay more than met the criteria for this award – as a positive contribution to the public realm, exemplifying design excellence and innovation. The “ceiling” of this 1 km outdoor room has been transformed into a full rainbow spectrum signifying gay pride. It defines the Gay Village, adds to 24-hour activity, supports hybrid economic activities, and successfully elevates an otherwise nondescript urban environment.”
– Jury comment


The Fourth Street SW Underpass Enhancement – Calgary, AB
the marc boutin architectural collaborative inc.

The physical state of disrepair of the underpass – limited accessibility, poor lighting levels, and overall deterioration of materials – required immediate attention. In response, the Fourth Street SW Underpass Enhancement Project is founded on the notion of reclaiming this space of removal as a space for conversation.

“The understated design has the potential to turn a negative pedestrian experience into something positive. The use of dynamic lighting to reflect the movement of pedestrians is a highlight of the design. The lighting is as much an art feature as a security and amenity enhancement.”
– Jury comment

2020 National Urban Design Awards - WestmountMag.ca

The Fourth Street SW Underpass Enhancement – Calgary, AB

Community initiatives


The Warming Huts – Winnipeg, MB
Sputnik Architecture Inc. and The Forks Renewal Corporation

Taking place in Winnipeg, MB, Warming Huts is an annual project that engages local and international designers, artists, and students each winter to design and create structures that are installed along with public skating and pedestrian trail on the ice of the city’s frozen rivers.

“The transformative impact that the Warming Huts program has had in converting Winnipeg’s rivers into an active winter civic space is impressive—even more so given its humble volunteer-based roots. In this regard, the Warming Huts program manages to successfully complement other river-related initiatives and generate a remarkable degree of community engagement since its inception.”
– Jury comment

Urban Design Plans


2020 National Urban Design Awards - WestmountMag.ca

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Plan d’intervention pour le confort et la sécurité des piétons et cyclistes dans le Vieux-Québec – Quebec, QC
Groupe A / Annexe U

An ambitious pedestrian and cycling plan in old Quebec City – one of Canada’s most historic and valued urban precincts. Part study and part master plan, this is a well-researched, comprehensive, innovative, and beautifully presented project.

“The plan reflects the unique history, topography, climate, and built form of old Quebec City and considers it from a cyclist’s perspective. While certainly not a standardized template, the plan provides an example of how other cities and towns might successfully plan for pedestrians and cyclists.”
– Jury comment

Urban Architecture


Casey House  – Toronto, ON
Hariri Pontarini Architects

The renovation and extension to Casey House, a specialized healthcare facility for individuals with HIV/AIDS, meets the needs of patients and healthcare providers in a setting designed to evoke the experience and comforts of home.

“Urban designers often face the challenge of adding to heritage buildings. This project enhances the existing building and preserves its specific qualities while choreographing spaces around a new landscaped central garden court. It respects a long tradition of public buildings as monumental, ‘foreground’ structures.”
– Jury comment


The Springdale Library and Komagata Maru Park – Brampton, ON
RDH Architects (RDHA)

The Springdale Library and Komagata Maru Park aspire to create an inclusive gathering place, a progressive architectural expression in the suburbs, and a point of pride for the city.

“This project is recognized as an innovative approach to urban design in an otherwise undistinguished suburban area. Elegantly—and deceptively simple—the design recognizes both pedestrians and passing motorists and responds to its surrounding context.”
– Jury comment

2020 National Urban Design Awards - WestmountMag.ca

The Springdale Library and Komagata Maru Park – Brampton, ON

Special Jury Awards


Corridor de biodiversité, Arrondissement de Saint-Laurent, Montréal – Montréal, QC
civiliti, LAND Italia, Table Architecture and Biodiversité conseil

Giant powerlines, long identified with monotonous sterile landscapes, will soon hover above flowering meadows, frequented by birds, pollinating insects, small animals, and Montrealers. It is part of a major ecological project, which will see the implementation of a Biodiversity Corridor, from the junction of Cavendish Boulevard and Highway 40, right up to the end of Thimens Boulevard, in the Borough of Saint-Laurent.

“The promise of urban design is sustainable development—creating economic, environmental, social, and cultural benefits. While this project focuses on the environment, it reflects all “Seven C’s” of urban design: context, character, choice, connections, creativity, custodianship, and collaboration.”
– Jury comment

Jury for the 2020 National Urban Design Awards

Doug Leighton, RPP, MCIP, MRAIC is Planner in Residence at the University of Calgary
Jean Trottier, CSLA, RPP, MCIP is Associate Professor in the Department of Landscape Architecture at the University of Manitoba
Susan Fitzgerald, FRAIC is the design director at FBM and an assistant professor at Dalhousie University

About the RAIC

The Royal Architectural Institute of Canada (RAIC) is the leading voice for excellence in the built environment in Canada. Representing about 5,000 members, the RAIC advocates for excellence works to demonstrate how design enhances the quality of life and promotes responsible architecture in addressing important issues of society.

About the Canadian Institute of Planners

The Canadian Institute of Planners (CIP) is the national voice of Canada’s planning profession. Since 1919, CIP has been dedicated to the advancement of responsible planning throughout Canada. CIP has a membership of more than 7,800 professional planners. It collaborates with provincial planning institutes and associations to promote professional standards, training and certification, as well as best practices in planning across Canada.

About the Canadian Society of Landscape Architects

The Canadian Society of Landscape Architects (CSLA) is a professional organization with over 1,800 landscape architects as members represented by provincial and territorial associations plus academic programs across the nation. The CSLA is an advocate for its members on issues such as urban renewal, sustainable development and cultural heritage.

Images: courtesy of the Royal Architectural Institute of Canada

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