Michael Kuchta AIA
senior urban design planner, Harvard University Planning & Project Management
Amy Kohn Kaiser
senior associate, Goody Clancy
Richard A. Yeager II AIA
assistant director of planning and design, Boston College
The jury saw 28 submissions to this program, which invited both campus and urban projects. This year, we were surprised that only eight out of 28 plans were urban design projects and noted that a few should have been submitted as individual projects instead of larger planning initiatives.
We considered more than just physical parameters, especially in university settings, reaching deeper into the psyche of the campus and institution. It is essential to get to the essence of the institution’s identity, so we were particularly intrigued by projects and efforts that elegantly solved multiple problems at once—and identified solid solutions for a range of different issues. For us, the key word is doable; we focused on feasibility and recognizing plans that were aspirational but could also create road maps for tangible outcomes.
Overall, jurors agreed that the submissions that did the best job of “telling the story”—delineating the three to five big ideas, and not 10—quickly rose to the top. Diagrams with well-edited, useful text that immediately indicated the solutions proposed were hallmarks of the most successful entries. Today, technology is available to help create great renderings and visualizations, yet we saw mostly competent work with only a few submissions that pushed the envelope on visualization techniques. Did the images communicate the story in the written description? This connection was crucial for us.
We were also impressed when projects articulated the interface of cultural and historical contexts and succeeded at getting into the community they were designing for; so often you get aerial, airbrushed views in these submissions and fail to get a sense of what the people or environments are like.
Jurying these projects is an honor, and we thank the Boston Society of Architects for the opportunity.