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Urban design awards

The Ottawa Urban Design Awards is a biennial awards program that celebrates projects in the City of Ottawa that achieve urban design excellence. This year the City of Ottawa is introducing a new category that highlights the power of community action and / or community engagement. In addition, the 2019 Urban Design Awards has engaged the public, with the awarding of the first ever People’s Choice Award, recognizing the nominated project that receives the most votes in an online survey.

In our eighth instalment of the program, the 2019 awards will honour exceptional projects in Ottawa completed between September 1, 2017 and September 1, 2019.

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 2020.

Enter an Award Submission

Mark your calendar and bookmark this page. Award submissions will be accepted online as of July 2, 2019. The submission deadline is 4 p.m. on August 9, 2019.

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.

Ottawa Urban Design Awards structure

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. Visions and Master Plans

Studies and master plans are inspiring, trend setting and significant for the future development of the City. A vision for the City.

5. Community Initiatives - A new award offered in 2019

A built project, however modest, that highlights the power of community action and / or community engagement. An exceptional project in this category will demonstrate the roles of the community and design in generating a dialogue on local issues such as environmental sustainability, mobility, inclusivity, social consciousness, and quality of life. Projects in this category are initiated or implemented by a community member or organization and will demonstrate their role as a steward, educator, and community builder. The project may be related to streetscaping, programming, public art, commemoration, environmental stewardship or cultural interpretation, and will be inspiring, imaginative, educational, or aspirational.

​​​​​​Ottawa Urban Design Awards fence

6. Student Projects

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


Different types of projects completed between September 1, 2017 and September 1, 2019 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
  • Public art

The following projects are NOT eligible for the Urban Design Awards:

  • Building interiors
  • Private spaces (i.e. private gardens, backyards, rooftops, etc.)
  • Incomplete projects or plans
  • Projects or plans located outside of the City of Ottawa
  • Heritage and historic preservation, and adaptive re-use projects (these should be directed to the Ottawa Heritage Awards, deadline will be in fall 2020)

The competition is open to urban designers, planners, landscape architects, architects, engineers, developers, artists, contractors, consultants, landowners, community groups, students and the 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 5, 2019 by an independent panel of urban design experts. The applicant of the winning project will be notified on September 20th, 2019 by e-mail. Winners will be presented with their award at an evening ceremony in October 2019, date to be confirmed by invitation. It is the responsibility of the winning applicant to inform all team members of their winning project, including the landowner, and to attend the awards event.

An Award of Excellence may be presented in each category to an outstanding project. 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 2020.

A Certificate of Merit may also be presented in each category of projects deserving recognition. More than one Certificate 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.

Important Note: The number and type of award 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 reallocate an entry into another category (instead of the one that it was submitted in) if deemed appropriate.

Jury Members

Bruce Kuwabara

Bruce Kuwabara

Bruce Kuwabara is an influential practitioner and advocate of architectural excellence with expertise creating and communicating compelling design visions that catalyze stakeholders and the wider community. His unwavering belief in the power of architecture to implement social and civic change and maximize cultural, environmental and economic potential has earned him an Officer of the Order of Canada, the RAIC Gold Medal and the Ontario Association of Architects Lifetime Achievement Award.

Exemplary projects include the LEED Platinum Manitoba Hydro Place in Winnipeg, the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University, the Julis Romo Rabinowitz Building and Louis A. Simpson International Building at Princeton University, Canada’s National Ballet School, the Canadian Museum of Nature, and the Global Centre for Pluralism in Ottawa. Recent completed works include the Remai Modern Art Gallery of Saskatchewan and the Ronald O. Perelman Center for Political Science and Economics at the University of Pennsylvania.

Bruce serves as Chair of the Board of Trustees for the Canadian Centre for Architecture in Montreal, is a member of the Design Review Committee for the University of Toronto, and is the former chair of Waterfront Toronto’s Design Review Panel. In fall 2016, Bruce was the recipient of an Honorary Doctorate of Laws (honoris causa) degree from McMaster University.

Heather Rolleston

Heather Rolleston, B.Arch.
Principal and Design Director, Quadrangle

Heather is an architectural designer and is a principal and design director at Quadrangle. She has over 20 years of experience designing, leading and managing a wide range of projects from the residential, mixed-use, master plan and commercial sectors. A graduate of the University of Toronto Daniels Faculty of Architecture, Landscape and Design, she continues to be involved in academia as a guest critic at her alma mater as well as at the University of Waterloo School of Architecture.

Heather’s work has been recognized with a number of awards including the RAIC Governor General’s Medal in Architecture and the RIBA International Award for the Terrence Donnelly Centre for Cellular and Biomolecular Research.

As a member of the Urban Land Institute’s Women’s Leadership Initiative Championship Team and through her involvement with Building Equality in Architecture Toronto, Heather lends her voice to advocate for gender equality in the architectural profession.

Heather is also sitting member of the City of Toronto’s Design Review Panel.

Julie St-Arnault

Julie St-Arnault, Landscape Architect and Senior Urban Designer

Julie St-Arnault holds a degree in landscape architecture from the Université de Montréal. In 1999, she and Micheline Clouard jointly established Vlan, a firm that specializes in landscape architecture, urban design and land use planning. Ms. St-Arnault’s practice is characterized by sensitive and bold creations that engage with the meaning of a place in order to develop the site with its context in mind. She and her team undertake projects within a multidisciplinary context, seeking to express the historical, social, cultural, natural and built layers that make up a space through creations that are enduring, original and innovative. Vlan’s major accomplishments include the Redford Gardens, the Jardin des Curiosités in Lyon, the campus of the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, the St. Joseph’s Oratory and Place des Arts esplanade redevelopment projects, the reception centre at the Parc national du Mont-Tremblant, the Arboretum interpretation trail at Montreal’s Jardin botanique, the Milieu humide installation at the entrance to Nuns' Island, the Escales découvertes project on Mount Royal, and several projects on Parliament Hill in Ottawa. She is currently part of the team of consultants leading the Sparks Street redevelopment project in Ottawa. Julie St-Arnault has also worked on the Chabanel Street and Saint-Viateur East Sector projects, as well as on several master plans for redeveloping urban streets. She regularly teaches university courses. From 2009 to 2016, she served as a member of the Conseil du patrimoine de Montréal. She has received multiple awards for her work from the professional community.