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2020 Edmund N. Bacon Urban Design Awards Student Competition

Ed Bacon Memorial Committee announces the 2020 Edmund N. Bacon Urban Design Awards Student Competition.

This annual competition, with a $5,000 first prize, challenges university-level students (undergraduate, graduate, and doctoral) from around the world to address real-world urban design issues in Philadelphia that have application not only to our city, but to urban centers around the globe.

The most successful entries tend to come from diverse teams which include individuals from a variety of fields: architecture, urban planning, design (industrial, graphic, etc.), landscape architecture, public health, economic development, environmental science, real estate law, business, or other fields which might bring innovative ideas to your proposal.

The topic for 2020 is: The Big Picture: Revealing Germantown’s Assets.

Chelten Avenue is the heart of the Germantown business district in northwest Philadelphia. The most economically diverse neighborhood in the city, Germantown is an African American community which bridges the economically disadvantaged neighborhoods of North Philadelphia to the east with the wealthier Mount Airy and Chestnut Hill neighborhoods to the west. The Chelten Avenue shopping district benefits from two regional rail stations (along different train lines) and one of the busiest bus stops in the city, located midway between the stations. In addition, the southern end of the shopping district is just steps from the expansive Wissahickon Valley Park, one of the most wild places in Philadelphia, visited by over 1 million people each year.

Since the 1950s, many factors have reshaped the Chelten Avenue shopping experience from a pedestrian one to a more car-centric one. There is a high concentration of empty storefronts, neglected properties, buildings modified with inexpensive materials, parking lots, and fast food restaurants. In contrast with nearby Germantown Avenue, which features a greater density of historic building stock, the buildings along Chelten are typically low density one- to three-story structures with massive expanses of surface parking and vacant parcels. In addition, some property owners are preventing development by holding onto vacant buildings and underutilized lots, speculating that their investment will increase in value – while simultaneously adding to depreciated property values and a lowered quality of life. Despite the level of commercial vacancy, this thoroughfare serves as a connector and maintains a high volume of pedestrian and transit-oriented activity.

How might this shopping district be designed to better support the local community, improve safety and accessibility for pedestrians (and all modes of transit), and help reveal the existing nearby amenities available to residents and shoppers: from public parks and swimming pools to historic attractions and urban farms?

The Edmund N. Bacon Urban Design Awards Student Competition was founded in 2006 in memory of Philadelphia’s iconic 20th century city planner, Ed Bacon [1910-2005]. It is organized by the Ed Bacon Memorial Committee of the Center for Architecture and Design.

This competition was formerly known as the Better Philadelphia Challenge.

2020 Edmund N. Bacon Urban Design Awards Student Competition – Entry Fee

A $25 per-entry fee is charged at the time of submission.