Building Magazine


ULI unveils ten winners for the 2009 Awards For Excellence

Ten outstanding developments from the Americas have been selected as winners of the Urban Land Institute’s (ULI) Awards for Excellence: The Americas competition, along with one winner of the Institute’s prestigious Heritage Award. The winners of the awards competition were announced today at ULI’s Spring Council Forum in Atlanta.


The competition is part of the Institute’s Awards for Excellence program, established in 1979, which is based on ULI’s guiding principle of recognizing best practice through the awards to promote better land use and development. ULI’s Awards for Excellence recognize the full development process of a project, not just its architecture or design. The criteria for the awards include leadership, contribution to the community, innovations, public/private partnership, environmental protection and enhancement, response to societal needs, and financial viability.


The Heritage Award, also announced this year, is not an annual award, but rather is bestowed periodically to developments that have demonstrated industry excellence and made substantial contributions to the greater community’s well-being for at least 25 years.  


The Heritage Award winner is the Baltimore Inner Harbor in Baltimore Maryland. The ten Awards for Excellence winners are: California Academy of Sciences, San Francisco; Comcast Center, Philadelphia; The Cork Factory Loft Apartments, Pittsburgh; Devries Place Senior Apartments, Milpitas, Calif.; Heifer International World Headquarters; Little Rock, Ark.; Kansas City Power and Light District, Kansas City, Mo.; Kierland Commons, Scotsdale, Ariz.; The RISE, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada; UniverCity, Burnaby, British Columbia, Canada; and West Chelsea/High Line Rezoning Plan, New York City.   


Over the years, the Awards for Excellence program has evolved from recognition of one development in North America to an international competition with multiple winners. The ULI Awards for Excellence: Europe was added in 2004, followed by the ULI Awards for Excellence: Asia Pacific and the Global Awards in 2005. Throughout the program’s history, all types of projects have been recognized for their excellence, including office, residential, recreational, urban/mixed-use, industrial/office park, commercial/retail, new community, rehabilitation, and public projects and programs.

The 2009 Awards for Excellence: The Americas winners and the Heritage Award winner were selected by a jury of renowned land use development and design experts: Jury chairman Marilee A. Utter, president, Citiventure Associates, LLC, Denver; Douglas W. Betz, managing partner, Woolpert LLP, Dayton, Ohio; Thomas E. Cody, principal, ProjectPDX, Portland, Ore.; James J. Curtis, managing partner, Bristol Group, Inc., San Francisco;  Richard M. Gollis, principal, The Concord Group, LLC, Newport Beach, Calif.; Gary A. Hack, professor of urban design, University of Pennsylvania, School of Design, Philadelphia; William H. Kreager, principal, Mithun Architects + Designers + Planners, Seattle; Terry R. Montesi, president and chief executive officer, Trademark Property Company, Fort Worth, Texas; J. Michael Pitchford, president and chief executive officer, Community Preservation and Development Corporation, Washington, D.C.; Rebecca R. Zimmermann, principal, Design Workshop, Inc., Denver.

The 2009 winners were selected from more than 140 entries. The jury was challenged by the large number of applications and the high quality of the projects, which struck the judges as particularly significant in the current economic environment.


The winners (developers in parentheses):

• California Academy of Sciences, San Francisco, California (The California Academy of Sciences) The world’s largest LEED-Platinum building, the $488 million California Academy of Sciences houses an aquarium, planetarium, natural history museum, and four-story rain forest.

• Comcast Center, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (Liberty Property Trust) Comcast Center is a 58-story, 1.25-million-square-foot office tower with an underground connection to Philadelphia’s commuter rail station. The transit-oriented development replaces a long vacant parcel in the center of the downtown business district.

• The Cork Factory Loft Apartments, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania (McCaffery Interests, Inc.) Vacant for more than three decades, the Cork Factory Loft Apartments—a 297-unit structure with over 43,000 square feet of retail space—has led a residential resurgence in Pittsburgh’s Strip District.

• Devries Place Senior Apartments, Milpitas, California (Mid-Peninsula Housing Coalition) Devries Place provides 103 affordable rental homes to low- and very low-income seniors. Located on an underutilized site in downtown, the transit-oriented development is within walking distance of a new library and medical center.

• Heifer International World Headquarters, Little Rock, Arkansas (Heifer International) Arkansas’s largest brownfield reclamation, the LEED-Platinum Heifer International World Headquarters is surrounded by reconstructed wetlands and uses 52 percent less energy than a comparable office building.

• Kansas City Power and Light District, Kansas City, Missouri (The Cordish Company) The Kansas City Power and Light District is the culmination of a forty-year effort to transform an area of urban blight into a vibrant downtown core. The $850 million, 9-city block mixed-use district encompasses over 1.6 million square feet of retail and office space, civic uses, hotels, and sports venues, welcoming over 8 million visitors annually.

• Kierland Commons, Scottsdale, Arizona (Woodbine Southwest Corporation) This 38-acre mixed-use town center features a mix of shops, residences, and offices configured along narrow landscaped streets, providing a pedestrian-friendly outdoor shopping environment in Scottsdale, Arizona.

• The RISE, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada (Grosvenor Americas) The RISE, a mid-rise building adjacent to a rapid transit station, successfully mixes large-format retail uses, locally-focused stores, and 92 rooftop live/work units that surround a 20,000 square foot green roof.

• UniverCity, Burnaby, British Columbia, Canada (SFU Community Trust) Adjacent to Simon Fraser University, UniverCity is a sustainable, 161-acre master-planned community that features ecologically-sound residences for over 2,500 individuals—including affordable housing options for university faculty and staff.

• West Chelsea/High Line Rezoning Plan, New York, New York (City of New York, Department of Planning) Using an innovative transfer of development rights (TDR) scheme, this plan has spurred the development of over 1,000 residential units and 2 million square feet of commercial space in West Chelsea. The defining feature of the special district is High Line Park—formerly an abandoned elevated rail line—which will become a 22-block-long linear park running through the district.

The Heritage Award winner (developer in parentheses): 

• The Baltimore Inner Harbor, Baltimore (Charles Center — Inner Harbor Management, Inc.) Through the redevelopment of 192 acres of dilapidated and abandoned waterfront property, the Balitmore Inner Harbor catalyzed reinvestment in Baltimore — supporting more than 50,000 new jobs, generating $60 million in new tax revenue, and generating a $4 billion tourism industry that was previously non-existent. The harbor now stands as the model for post-industrial waterfront redevelopment around the world. 


More information about ULI’s Awards for Excellence program is at

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