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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. 

In our ninth instalment of the program, the 2021 awards will honour exceptional projects in Ottawa completed between September 1, 2019 and August 31, 2021.

Winners of an Award of Excellence will be sent forward as the Ottawa entry to the National Urban Design Awards competition in 2022. Due to COVID-19, the 2021 awards will be online only.

Enter an Award Submission

Deadline for submissions is Friday, September 3 at 4 pm. All online submissions must be received by the deadline date. Late submissions will not be accepted.

For more information regarding the Ottawa Urban Design Awards, email urbandesignawards@ottawa.ca.

Submission form

Award Categories

1. Urban Infill

Sub-categories:

  • 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.

Image of Flora Footbridge - 2019 Award Winner for Public Places and Civic Spaces and Urban Elements

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 that 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.

Image of The Gather-Ring – 2019 Award Winner for Community Initiatives

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.

Eligibility

Different types of projects completed between September 1, 2019 and August 31, 2021 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 

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 in September, 2021 by an independent panel of urban design experts. The applicant of the winning project will be notified in October, 2021 by email. It is the responsibility of the winning applicant to inform all team members of their winning project, including the landowner.

An Award of Excellence may be presented in each category to an outstanding project. Winning projects of an Award of Excellence will be sent forward as the Ottawa entry to the National Urban Design Awards competition in 2022.

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.

A Community Partner Award of Merit may be presented for an award-winning project from any category that best exemplifies the positive outcome of collaboration efforts between the project team and the community. The winning project will be a public or private project of any scale that highlights the critical role of establishing a strong dialogue between all stakeholders and fostering exceptional cooperation, partnership, and/or engagement in achieving good urban form, design excellence, and context sensitivity.

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

To be announced.