Place by Design, launched in 2013, honors visionary design work that achieves a positive community impact through the creation or re-imagining of public spaces. These 15 finalists were chosen by the Place by Design Jury, who also determined the winners of the 2013 Place by Design Awards.

2013 Winners

Transformative Design: Ballroom Luminoso

Joe O’Connell and Blessing Hancock, Creative Machines, Inc. | San Antonio, TX

Ballroom Luminoso
Ballroom Luminoso transforms an ordinary underpass into a community shadow theater. A series of six brilliantly lit, color-changing chandeliers hang from the underpass and each casts bright shapes and colored shadows approximately 40 feet. The chandeliers are made from recycled bike parts and other metals with LED lights used to allow for creative expression with minimal maintenance.

Community Impact: INSITU

Nicholas Waissbluth, uAbureau | Medellin, Colombia

Insitu is a community-designed outdoor play area that not only performs a functional need but at the same time teaches children and families about three primary issues; sanitation, agriculture, and urban furniture. Combining these elements, Insitu 2013 created a permanent installation giving a place for children to play, dance, learn and for families to gather and celebrate.

Global Potential: The Looper

Patrick Keeney, Jocelyn Hoppe, Bill Jackson, Daun Jung, Ian Marcus, Mark Palmer, Amie Sell, Agustina Soler, Bryant Yee & Jeramy Yoon; RTKL | Washington, D.C.

The Looper
The Looper challenges the idea of a greenhouse and leverages one very simple concept: the growing of plants inherently cleans an ecosystem. The project, designed to align with the Living Building Challenge, repurposes an existing river barge into a greenhouse which collects, uses, filters, and returns water to the river in a remediated state – a loop.

Autodesk Sustainable Innovation Award: From Blight to Bright

Rachel Ganin & Eric Tan, Gensler | New York, NY

From Blight to Bright
The Blight to Bright project imagines a flexible, sustainable and community-driven system of plug & play park modules, designed to take advantage of under-utilized spaces throughout the city.

2013 Finalists


Laura Devendorf and Kimiko Ryokai, UC Berkeley School of Information | Berkeley, CA


AnyType is an application that invites us to transform our everyday environments into unique typefaces. It prompts us to look through our mobile phones and actively examine our surroundings as creative inputs.

The Butler Trail Restroom Series

Susan Rankin, The Trail Foundation | Austin, TX

Butler Trail

The beloved 10-mile Butler Trail surrounding Lady Bird Lake in the heart of downtown Austin, serves as an iconic gathering place for families, visitors, walkers, runners and bicyclists. The Trail Foundation’s growing series of restrooms along the urban-most part of the Trail, has created inspired buzz and turned ordinary utilitarian features into something more exciting: gems of architectural design in a natural yet urban environment.

Designed to Move

Architecture for Humanity, San Francisco, CA

Designed to Move
Just a few generations ago, physical activity was an integral part of daily life. In the name of technological progress, we’ve now chipped away at it so thoroughly that physical inactivity actually seems normal. The economic costs are unacceptable, and the human costs unforgivable. We are working with communities and pilot cities around the globe to develop guidelines/ toolkits for tangible solutions that will promote better living, more moving and more sustainable and healthy places to do and be.

The Detroit Superior Bridge Project

David Jurca, Kent State Cleveland Urban Design Collaborative | Cleveland, OH

Detroit Superior Bridge

The Detroit-Superior Bridge Project invited a broad spectrum of the public to engage in a fun and productive planning process to transform the bridge’s abandoned lower level into an active public space. Employing temporary, yet realistic, mock-ups of alternative proposals for bicycle amenities, directional signage, and performance spaces, this project enabled attendees to make informed decisions and provides needed inspiration to other initiatives aimed at rewriting the stories of forgotten, yet extraordinary, places.

It’s in the BOX!

Nick Lavelle, University of Michigan School of Natural Resources and Environment | Detroit, MI

It's in the Box
It's in the BOX! is a response to the ailing of inner city Detroit. The project is a kit of parts that form mobile, adaptable public spaces creating new forms of public life on formerly abandoned landscapes as a form of interactive, "interactivist" architecture.

Key to the Street

Jessica Lowry | Austin, TX

Well designed streets have a flow and beauty that lends to an inclusive culture that makes space for everyone. Key to the Street allows users collaborate by drawing on top of a photo and leaving a voice message about how the street could be improved. This will lead to streets designed by the very people who use them.

People Organizing Place [POP] - Neighborhood Stories

bcWORKSHOP | Dallas, TX

People Organizing Place [POP] - Neighborhood Stories is an on-going series of public events and activities in partnership with Dallas neighborhood residents and stakeholders. Through film, exhibits, and communal experiences, Neighborhood Stories strengthens awareness of the city, celebrates the diverse neighborhoods that give it character, and creates a platform for active dialogue about our history and future.


Douglas Burnham, envelope a + d | Berkeley, CA


PROXY is a two-block project located in San Francisco which seeks to mobilize a flexible environment of food, art, culture, and retail within renovated shipping containers and other temporary structures. Our design embraces the vast diversity of a city and is both a response and solution to the ever changing urban lifecycle by thwarting the notion that the value of architecture is in its final, rarified condition.

Smart Sidewalks

Brett Snyder, Claire Napawan, Rama Chorpash, Sinead Mac Namara, Jessie Ganes, Grant Foster, Ben Busse | New York, NY

Smart Sidewalks is a proposal to repurpose existing pay phone locations driven by two competing aims: to pack as much function into a single device as possible and to reduce the phone booth's footprint. 'Everything:' communication, sustainability, and way-finding is squeezed into 'nothing:' a 6' wide interactive strip that folds up from the sidewalk.


Bland Hoke & Howard Chambers | New York, NY


Softwalks is making pop-up parks for everyone! In NYC, over 189 miles of sidewalks are covered with scaffolding. We developed a kit of parts including; a seat, counter, planter, screen and light reflector to transform the structure from an eyesore into a community asset.

Urban Air

Stephen Glassman | Los Angeles, CA

Urban Air
Urban Air transforms existing urban billboards into living, intelligently networked, floating bamboo gardens. Embedded with atmospheric sensors that measure, aggregate, and stream key environmental data points in and around the billboard’s cloud forest, Urban Air installations become living global nodes – serving as both physical and virtual platforms for social engagement, and strikingly visible, purposeful artworks that call for our collective green future.