Environmental Design Research Association
Announces Recipients of 17th Annual Great Places Awards
March 18, 2016 (Raleigh, North Carolina) - Four exemplary projects and a book on architecture, planning, landscape architecture, and urban design have been named winners of the 2016 Great Places Awards. Each will be on display during the 47th annual conference of the Environmental Design Research Association (EDRA), May 18-21, 2016 in Raleigh, North Carolina, USA.  The EDRA Great Places Awards recognize professional and scholarly excellence in environmental design and pay special attention to the relationship between physical form and human activity or experience.
EDRA is excited to partner with Project for Public Spaces (PPS) for the 2016 Great Places Awards. PPS is a nonprofit planning, design and educational organization dedicated to helping people create and sustain public spaces that build stronger communities. Their pioneering Placemaking approach helps citizens transform their public spaces into vital places that highlight local assets, spur rejuvenation and serve common needs.

"An Outdoor Learning Environment for Children" the 2016 Place Design Award winner from Matluba Khan at the University of Edinburgh, discusses the Tulatoli Government Primary School, situated in the sub-district of Raipura within Dhaka division some 80 miles from Dhaka in Bangladesh. Like most other government primary schools, the standard school design consists of several classrooms, an office, a toilet block and a barren unsurfaced school yard. With high drop-out and low attendance rates as a main concern in Bangladesh, the school authority was keen to work with the research team to view this issue from a different perspective. The construction cost was sponsored by an anonymous donor with the aim of investigating how the design of a school ground can enhance learning and motivate children to attend school. The design of the physical environment, particularly the outdoor space, is one of the least considered aspects of children's educational experience in developing countries. Therefore, the potential of a well-designed school ground is yet to be explored.

"Akron Better Block" is the 2016 Place Planning Award winner, submitted by Jason Roberts. Funded by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, the project acted as a prototype for future street improvements planned for the North Hill refugee neighborhood in Akron, Ohio. Roberts worked with local activists Tina and John Ughrin, and a number of neighborhood groups such as International Institute, Keep Akron Beautiful, AMATS, Boy Scouts of Akron and Temple Square Properties to test the plan for the block and give residents, city officials, and local stakeholders a view of what a complete street and an engaged community could look like.
The 2016 Place Research Award recipient, "Cognitive Architecture: Designing for How We Respond to the Built Environment," authored by Sussman, A., and Hollander, J., and published by Routledge, reviews new findings in psychology and neuroscience to help citizens, community leaders, architects and planners better understand people as the sophisticated mammals they are, arriving in the world with built-in responses to the environment that have evolved over millennia. We live in a time of burgeoning new information about the brain which will have growing relevance for place-making, the authors argue. The book looks at key subconscious proclivities some of this research has revealed to help designers not only better understand what they observe today, but have a basis for forecasting the quality of the human experience in developments in the future. For more information regarding this recipient, view this brochure.
The 2016 Place Book Award recipient, "Therapeutic Gardens: Design for Healing Spaces", authored by Winterbottom, D.,  Wagenfeld, A., (2015) and published by Timber Press, Inc., discusses how therapeutic gardens reduce stress, improve treatment outcomes, and increase health and wellbeing for people of all ages and abilities.  In Therapeutic Gardens: Design for Healing Spaces, a case-study-supported instructional document, a collaborative approach is presented, successfully translating the principles of therapeutic design into practice for designers, healthcare practitioners, and students. Using evidence-supporting place attachment and centeredness, coupled with global examples of successful therapeutic gardens, the authors demonstrate how gardens support learning, movement, reconciliation, mediation and memorialization, and improve health and social connection. The book sheds light on how the combined strengths of multiple professions collaborating with common goals can provide tools to design meaningful and successful healing landscapes evocative of a deep sense of place. Using the latest evidence, the book positions therapeutic garden theory in a practical and scientifically valid context.
The winners were selected by an esteemed jury of research and design professionals:  Kofi Boone, ASLA, associate professor of landscape architecture, North Carolina State Design, North Carolina State University; Jill Pable, professor, Department of Interior Architecture and Design, Florida State University; Michael Mehaffy, executive director, Sustasis Foundation; Katie Roden, AIA, LEEP AP, associate principal, Centerbrook Architects and Planners; and John Shapiro, chair, Pratt Institute's Graduate Center for Planning and the Environment.
Award recipients were recognized on Wednesday, May 18, during the opening reception of EDRA47Raleigh. To learn more about each of these projects, visit

Emily Viles