Urban design awards

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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 10th instalment of the program, the 2023 awards will honour exceptional projects in Ottawa completed between September 1, 2021 and August 31, 2023.

Winners of an Award of Excellence will be sent forward as the Ottawa entry to the National Urban Design Awards competition in 2024. 

The winning teams of all Urban Design Awards will be presented their award at an in-person gala hosted by the City of Ottawa in November. More details to follow.

2023 Urban Design Awards

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 main street, 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 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 completed between September 1, 2021 and August 31, 2023 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/ Interior designs
  • Private spaces not in the public domain (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,  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 in October, 2023 by an independent panel of urban design experts. The applicant of the winning project will be notified in late October 2023 by email. It is the responsibility of the winning applicant to inform all team members of their winning project, including consultants and 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 2024.

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.

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

We are excited to announce that this year’s three Jury Members will be Anne BordeleauBrigitte Shim, and Graeme Stewart

Abbe Bordeleau

Anne Bordeleau

Anne Bordeleau is an architect, educator, and researcher currently serving as the Director of the Azrieli School of Architecture and Urbanism at Carleton University in Ottawa. 

Brigitte Shim

Brigitte Shim

Brigitte Shim was born in Kingston Jamaica and lives in Toronto, Canada which is her home. She studied architecture and environmental studies at the University of Waterloo, Canada. In 1994, Shim and her partner A. Howard Sutcliffe founded Shim-Sutcliffe Architects in Toronto, Canada. Their design practice explores the integration and interrelated scales of architecture, landscape, furniture and fittings. Shim-Sutcliffe have realized built work in Canada, the United States, Europe and Asia focusing on place-making. 

 To date, Shim and Sutcliffe have received sixteen Governor General’s Medals for Architecture from the Royal Architectural Institute of Canada (RAIC) and an American Institute of Architects (AIA) National Honor Award along with many other professional accolades for their built work. In January 2013, Brigitte Shim and her partner A. Howard Sutcliffe were both awarded the Order of Canada, “for their contributions as architects designing sophisticated structures that represent the best of Canadian design to the world.” In 2021, the Royal Architectural Institute of Canada awarded Brigitte Shim and A. Howard Sutcliffe, the RAIC Gold Medal for their “tireless commitment to advocacy, teaching and mentoring along with their commitment to craft, tectonics, site and ecology in their built work and its lasting impact on Canadian architecture.”

 Professor Brigitte Shim is a faculty member at the John H. Daniels Faculty of Architecture, Landscape and Design at the University of Toronto. Brigitte Shim is the 2022, Norman Foster Visiting Professor at Yale University’s School of Architecture and has been a visiting chair and lecturer at Harvard University’s Graduate School of Design, the Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne (EPFL), The Cooper Union’s Chanin School of Architecture, The University of Auckland, and others. She has served on numerous international, national and local design juries as an unwavering advocate for design excellence.

Graeme Stewart

Graeme Stewart

Graeme Stewart FRAIC OAA RPP CAHP is Principal of Toronto-based ERA Architects, where he engages in heritage and regeneration project in the Toronto area beyond. He is also founding director of the Tower Renewal Partnership, a cross-sectoral collaborative supporting the decarbonization of Canada’s existing affordable housing stock through research, policy and action. Through these efforts Graeme and his team have helped to kickstart deep retrofit in housing across Canada and has directly overseen the retrofit of over 1,500 units of housing in the Toronto region. Projects include the Ken Soble Tower, the first Passive House certified retrofit of a high-rise residential building in North America.