This site uses JavaScript. Please enable JavaScript in your Browser and reload the page to view the full site.

Urban design awards

Website currently under construction.  Check back June 17th 2019 for more information. Please direct any questions to

The Ottawa Urban Design Awards is a biennial awards program that celebrates projects built in the City of Ottawa that achieve urban design excellence. In our seventh instalment of the program, the awards this year will honour exceptional projects built in Ottawa between September 1, 2015 and September 1, 2017.

Winners 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 2018.

Enter an Award Submission

The submission deadline is 4 p.m. on August 10, 2017. For more information regarding the Ottawa Urban Design Awards, email

Submission Form

Award Categories

1. Urban Infill


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

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 submit an entry.

5. Visions, and Master Plans and/or Design Guidelines 

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:

  • Projects completed between September 1, 2015 and September 1, 2017 
  • 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 located within the boundaries of the City of Ottawa
  • Heritage and historic preservation/adaptive re-use (these would be directed to the Ottawa Architectural Conservation Awards program, deadline of which is in the Fall every two years.

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 design landscape.

Judging and Jury Members

Submissions for the Ottawa Urban Design Awards will be juried on September 8, 2017 by independent outside expert judges. . The applicant on the submission form of a winning project will be contacted on September 15, 2017 by email. All other entrants will receive an email 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 in October 2017.

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 2018.

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 in October 2017 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.

Jury Members

David Leinster, OALA, CSLA

David Leinster is a landscape architect and partner at The Planning Partnership in Toronto. With expertise in public realm planning and design, and having extensive experience as a design critic and juror, David is a former member of the City of Ottawa’s Urban Design Review Panel for the Downtown Design Review Pilot Project and a former juror for the Ottawa Urban Design Awards.

James Parakh, OAA

James Parakh is a Licensed Architect and the Manager of Urban Design for Toronto and East York District, City of Toronto Planning Division. During the last decade, James has led the urban design studio that has helped guide the review of all development in Downtown Toronto and surrounding urban areas. James also has experience working in the private sector as an urban designer, project designer and project architect for both national and international projects. He is the recipient of numerous awards and has received an Ontario Association of Architects Award in 2008 for introducing the 1:50 program and has recently led the initiative to launch Toronto's Privately Owned Public Spaces (POPS) branding. In 2014, James was appointed to the Advisory Group of the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat, an international body in the field of tall buildings and sustainable urban design. He holds graduate degrees in architecture and urban design from the University of Houston and Columbia University, respectively.

Emmanuelle van Rutten, B. Arch, OAA, OAQ, MRAIC, LEED AP BD+C

Emmanuelle is a Licensed Architect in the provinces of Ontario and Quebec and Director at the Moriyama & Teshima Architects' Ottawa office. Her professional focus has been on large-scale institutional buildings in Ottawa. These projects are exemplified by their exceptional designs and staunch project delivery.

Over the years, she has earned a reputation as a remarkable communicator (in both official languages), a meticulous project manager and an excellent designer. Her most notable projects include the Canadian War Museum and the Delegation of the Ismaili Imamat on Sussex drive.

Emmanuelle is actively involved in Ottawa's design community. She maintains a close relationship with her alma mater - the Azrieli School of Architecture at Carleton University where she is frequently invited as a Guest Lecturer and Guest Critic.