2015 Ottawa Urban Design Awards - Overview

This is our 10 year anniversary!

In 2015, the City of Ottawa will host the sixth edition of the Urban Design Awards.

The deadline for submissions is Thursday, August 6, 2015 at 4 p.m. The awards ceremony will be held on the evening of Wednesday, September 30, 2015.

The 2015 Ottawa Urban Design Awards celebrate projects built in the City of Ottawa that exhibit urban design excellence. The awards will honour exceptional projects built in Ottawa between September 1, 2013 and September 1, 2015. 

Good urban design is how buildings, landscapes and adjacent public spaces function together to enhance the public realm. It includes the art of place making and designing the built environment to be appreciated and enjoyed at the human scale. This is not an architecture award.

The author of the winning submission of each category will receive an Award of Excellence, which acknowledges a project that achieves urban design excellence and meets the judging criteria. Other entries in each category will be eligible to win an Award of Merit. An important distinction between the two awards is that the winners of the Awards of Excellence will be forwarded by the City to compete nationally in the Royal Architectural Institute of Canada's 2016 Urban Design Awards Program as representative of the City of Ottawa.

Winning projects will:

  • Demonstrate clear urban design intent and merit
  • Demonstrate a positive contribution to the public realm / quality of place
  • Demonstrate design and architectural excellence
  • Contribute to the wider appreciation of urban design
  • Achieve a human scale relationship with the immediate context
  • Contribute in a substantive way to the City's environmental and ecological health
  • Be important to pedestrian and liveability issues
  • Be innovative and trend setting
  • Be open to transformation over time in a positive way

Call for Submissions

The City of Ottawa is pleased to announce the sixth Ottawa Urban Design Awards competition.

The awards will be presented in five categories: Urban Infill, Public Places and Civic Spaces, Urban Elements, Student Projects and Visions and Master Plans.

Projects built between September 1, 2013 and September 1, 2015 will be eligible.

Submissions must be delivered by 4 p.m. on Thursday, August 6, 2015 to:

2015 Ottawa Urban Design Awards
Planning and Growth Management Department
110 Laurier Avenue West, 4th floor reception area
Ottawa, ON K1P 1J1

Attention: Amy Falkner
Telephone: 613-580-2424, ext. 27913


David Atkinson
Telephone: 613-580-2424, ext. 15013

Jury day is Monday, August 24, 2015.

The awards will be presented on the evening of Wednesday, September 30, 2015.

Program Guidelines


Submissions will be considered in five categories:

1. Urban Infill


  • Low rise (1-4 storey)
  • Mid to high rise (5+ storey)

A building or group of buildings, of high architectural standard, that achieves urban design excellence and creativity due to a thorough and sensitive understanding of the context, site plan, massing and pedestrian amenities. The building(s) will enhance the urban fabric of the neighbourhood.

All types of buildings are eligible, whether 'landmark' or 'background', new construction or a restoration/transformation. Building types may be mainstreet, mixed-use, residential (detached, attached, multi-unit) commercial, institutional or industrial.

2. Public Places and Civic Spaces

A place defined by adjacent buildings or a natural area or park that exhibits sustainability, and that enhances, extends and embellishes an accessible public realm. These shall be public indoor or outdoor spaces and may include streets, courtyards, plazas, forecourts, trails, parks, bridges, streetscapes and mews.

3. Urban Elements

A designed piece or pieces of a building or landscape that makes a positive contribution to the character of the neighbourhood at a human scale. It adds amenity, enhances the public experience and contributes to the quality and accessibility of the environment. Urban Elements can include an innovative solution that embodies the principles of universal design and may be street furniture, permanent works of art, doorways, gateways, fountains, railings, façades, light fixtures, canopies, walkways and signage, etc.

4. Student Projects

A theoretical or studio project that specifically relates to Ottawa. Students that attend local universities offering degrees in architecture, landscape architecture, urban planning and industrial design can submit.

5. Visions and Master Plans

An unbuilt vision for the City, studies and master plans that are inspiring, trend-setting and significant for the future development of the City.


All types of publicly visible/accessible urban development projects are eligible:

  • Buildings (Residential, Mixed-use, Recreational, Commercial, Institutional and Industrial)
  • Building Additions and Exterior Renovations
  • Parks and Open Spaces
  • Civic Structures
  • Public Utilities
  • Street Improvements

The following projects will NOT be eligible for the Urban Design Awards:

  • Interior designs
  • Private spaces not in the public domain (i.e. private gardens, backyards etc.)
  • Plans or proposals not yet built or incomplete
  • Plans or proposals not located within the boundaries of the City of Ottawa
  • Heritage and historic preservation/adaptive re-use (these would be directed to the Ottawa Architectural ConservationAwards program, the deadline of which is in September every year)

The competition is open to urban designers, planners, landscape architects, architects, engineers, developers, contractors, consultants, owners, students and the general public who have contributed to Ottawa's urban landscape.

The project must be located within the boundaries of the City of Ottawa.

Projects completed between September 1, 2013 and September 1, 2015 are eligible.


Submissions for the Ottawa Urban Design Awards will be juried on August 24, 2015 by independent outside expert judges. The applicant on the submission form of a winning project will be contacted on September 11, 2015 by e-mail. All other entrants will receive a letter in the mail thanking them for their participation. It is the responsibility of the winning applicant to inform all members of the team of the winning project, including the consultants, owner etc., of the awards event on September 30, 2015.

An Award of Excellence may be presented in each category. A maximum of 3-framed awards will be presented per project. Additional unframed certificates will be available upon request. Winning projects of an Award of Excellence will be sent forward as the Ottawa entry to the Royal Architectural Institute of Canada's Urban Design Awards competition in 2016.

An Award of Merit may also be presented in each category to the authors of projects deserving recognition. More than one Award of Merit can be awarded in each category and a maximum of 3-framed awards per project will be presented. Additional unframed certificates will be available upon request.

At the Awards ceremony/reception on the evening of Wednesday, September 30, 2015 each project author/team winning an Award of Excellence or an Award of Merit will receive their framed awards.

Important Note: The number and type of awards given is at the discretion of the jury and their decision is final. The jury has the right not to present awards in every category and can re-allocate an entry into another category (instead of the one that it was submitted in) if deemed appropriate.

Submission Entry Form