American Planning Association Announces the Recipients of its Annual Excellence, Achievement and Leadership Awards

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Honoring innovative planning and planners across the nation and the globe, the American Planning Association today announced the 12 recipients of its 2009 National Planning Excellence, Achievement, and Leadership Awards.

APA's national awards program, the profession's highest honor, is a proud tradition established more than 50 years ago to recognize outstanding community plans, planning programs and initiatives, public education efforts, and individuals for their leadership on planning issues.

The Daniel Burnham Award for a Comprehensive Plan honors a comprehensive plan that advances the science and art of planning. The award honors America's most famous planner, Daniel Burnham, for his contributions to the planning profession and to a greater awareness of the benefits of good planning. Two plans were honored this year:

Greensburg Sustainable Comprehensive Plan, Greensburg, Kansas
The Greensburg Sustainable Plan reflects the community's vision of rebuilding based on their respect for the land and a sustainable future after a devastating tornado leveled 90 percent of the agriculture community in southwestern Kansas.

Kigali Comprehensive Plan Master Plan, Kigali, Rwanda, Africa
The Kigali City Master Plan was developed through a series of public workshops--held in both French and Kinyarwanda--informational and technical seminars, and stakeholder meetings. The plan underscored the importance of creating an exciting and responsible development strategy while encouraging actions to implement it.

Paul Davidoff National Award for Social Change and Diversity honors a project, group, or individual demonstrating a sustained social commitment to advocacy involving planning. Honored this year:

Caño Martín Peña Special Planning District Plan, Puerto Rico
The plan is designed to rehabilitate the Caño Martín Peña Special Planning District area where thousands of people live in dense, inadequate housing along a tidal channel, and to integrate the community with the larger San Juan area. Strategies include boosting economic development, cleaning up the environment, and increasing educational opportunities for residents. The comprehensive scope of the plan, together with community participation and commitment from the government, are unprecedented in Puerto Rico.

AICP National Planning Pioneer Award
This award honors individuals whose contributions to planning profession have significantly and positively redirected planning with long-term results.

David Wallace, AICP (1917 - 2004)
Described as one of the greats in the fields of planning and urban design in the 20th century, the late David Wallace contributed significantly as a professional, as a builder of communities, and as a teacher.

Wallace, who planned numerous award-winning projects in Philadelphia, New York City and Baltimore, created a legacy of sound planning and intelligent urban design. He showed immense foresight in his designs and carved a path for others to follow. One project alone - his work on Baltimore's Inner Harbor - continues to inspire planners to this day.

National Planning Excellence Award for Best Practice
This award is given for a specific planning tool, practice, program, project, or process that advances elements of planning.

Design for Health, Minnesota
Design for Health (DHF) aims to bridge the gap between urban design, healthy living, and local government planning. The DFH team, composed of experts in the fields of architecture, landscape architecture, planning, and public health, created a variety of innovative, practice-oriented tools to integrate health research into the practice of urban planning and environmental design.

National Planning Excellence Award for a Grassroots Initiative
This award honors an initiative that illustrates how a community utilized the planning process to address a need extending beyond the traditional scope of planning.

Lower Italian Market Revitalization Project, South Philadelphia
The Lower Italian Market Revitalization Project is being honored for its efforts to devise innovative solutions, mobilize volunteers, and build momentum for revitalizing this important commercial corridor in South Philadelphia. Their plan addresses green elements, public art, and contemporary concepts that specifically apply to this dense urban area.

National Planning Achievement Award for a Hard-Won Victory
This award recognizes a planning effort undertaken by a community, neighborhood, citizens group, or jurisdiction in the face of difficult, challenging, or adverse conditions.

Great Miami Drinking Water Protection Project
The Ohio-Kentucky-Indiana (OKI) Regional Council of Governments faced an enormous - and critical - challenge: how to help the economically challenged Village of New Miami in Ohio protect drinking water for itself and its neighbors. Working through local political turmoil, and coordinating with New Miami leaders, business people and residents, the OKI helped the village adopt a new plan and ordinance to safeguard its groundwater, an important natural resource that supplies seven public water systems serving more than 300,000 people.

National Planning Excellence Award for Implementation
This award recognizes a project that demonstrates a significant achievement for an area -- a single community or a region -- in accomplishing positive changes as a result of planning. The award emphasizes long-term, measurable results that have been in continuous effect for a minimum of five years.

Livable Centers Initiative, Atlanta, GA
The Livable Centers Initiative (LCI) is a grant program of the Atlanta Regional Commission that encourages local jurisdictions to link transportation improvements with land use development. Through its work, LCI has encouraged a diversity of mixed-use neighborhoods in the Atlanta area, placing frequented destinations within walking or biking distance.

National Excellence Award for Innovation in Regional Planning
This award recognizes innovative plans, programs, tools, or related efforts that promote and strengthen support for regional planning.

Orange County Great Park Comprehensive Master Plan, Orange County, Calif.
The California park's plan knits together the communities of Southern California while restoring the region's natural heritage. The 1,347-acre park, being built on the site of the former El Toro Marine Corps Air Station, will serve Orange County's 3.2 million residents offering numerous recreational opportunities and vast open spaces.

National Planning Leadership Award
This awards recognizes an individual, appointed official, or elected official who has advanced or promoted the cause of planning in the public arena.

Professor John Nolon, Pace Law School, New York
As a professor at Pace Law School, Nolon has worked tirelessly not only to promote sound land-use planning, but also to train and inspire others to become passionate advocates.

Nolon founded the Land Use Law Center at Pace Law School in 1993 and now serves as its counsel and as a Professor of Law. As part of his work, Nolon created the Land Use Leadership Alliance (LULA) Training Program, the nation's most extensive land-use training program for local planners and leaders. The intensive four-day program teaches and inspires land use leaders and planners to be effective agents of change in their communities and has trained more than 1,000 planners in the Hudson River Valley. Local leaders credit him with helping to protect the area's fragile natural resources.

National Planning Leadership Award for a Student Planner
This awards recognizes a student in the final year of a Planning Accreditation Board-approved planning program for outstanding achievement during the nominee's academic career in planning.

Emilia Mendoza, San Jose State University, California
Emilia Mendoza, a planning graduate student, is being honored for her exceptional service to her fellow students, nonprofit organizations, and her community. Only one graduate student is recognized annually.

2009 Public Outreach Award
This award recognizes an individual, project, or program that uses information and education about the value of planning and how planning improves a community's quality of life.

visionPDX, Portland, Ore.
visionPDX is a city-supported initiative to create a vision for a better community, provide a new opportunity for all Portlanders to share their ideas through extensive and creative public engagement. Through these and other creative means, visionPDX involved new audiences in planning and government by making engagement more accessible, rewarding, thought-provoking and fun. More than 17,000 people participated.

The APA 2009 National Planning Excellence Award recipients will be honored at a luncheon during APA's National Planning Conference in Minneapolis on April 28, 2009. They will also be featured in an upcoming issue of Planning magazine, APA's flagship publication.

For more information about all of the award recipients, visit

The American Planning Association and its professional institute, the American Institute of Certified Planners, are dedicated to advancing the art, science and profession of good planning -- physical, economic and social -- so as to create communities that offer better choices for where and how people work and live. Members of APA help create communities of lasting value and encourage civic leaders, business interests and citizens to play a meaningful role in creating communities that enrich people's lives. APA has offices in Washington, D.C., Chicago, Ill., and Shanghai, China. For more information, visit its website at

Roberta Rewers


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