Yesterday, the Bruner Foundation announced the 2019 gold and silver medalists for its Rudy Bruner Award for Urban Excellence (RBA). In its 32 years of “honoring innovative placemaking,” the biennial award has highlighted projects not only for their good design but also for their beneficial impact on American cities, the organization said in its press release. Since its creation in 1986, the RBA has awarded 88 projects in 28 states across the country.
This year, the Bruner Foundation selected Crosstown Concourse in Memphis, Tenn.—which also won an AIA 2019 Institute Honor Award for Architecture—as the winner of its gold medal and recipient of $50,000, selecting the project from a pool of five finalists. Crosstown Concourse—which was completed in 2017 by Memphis-based Looney Ricks Kiss, Vancouver-based Dialog, and London-based Spatial Affairs Bureau—is the biggest adaptive reuse project in Tennessee and “the largest LEED Platinum certified historic adaptive reuse project in the world,” said the Bruner Foundation in the same press release. The $210 million project transformed the historic Sears, Robuck & Co. distribution center—which had been vacant for over 20 years—into a 16-acre space that includes housing, offices, restaurants, and retail alongside nonprofit arts, culture, and health organizations.
“Crosstown Concourse has received a number of highly regarded awards over the past year, but this one is really special,” said Crosstown Arts co-director/co-founder Todd Richardson in a press release. “We have been inspired by past RBA winners, and to be in the company of Gold Medalists like SteelStacks Arts & Cultural Campus in Pennsylvania and Pike Place Market in Seattle is both exciting and daunting. We are encouraged by the growing, diverse community in Crosstown but also know we have work to do to create the kind of inclusive and sustainable impact we aspire to. The RBA Gold Medal prize will further this goal by supporting the ongoing arts events and programming that contribute to the unique Crosstown experience.”
The Bruner Foundation selected four other finalists as silver medal winners, awarding them $10,000 each to further enhance their projects. The silver medalists include Beyond Walls in Lynn, Mass., by Payette; Buffalo Bayou Park in Houston by Page and SWA Group; Parisite Skatepark in New Orleans by the Albert and Tina Small Center for Collaborative Design; and Sulphur Springs Downtown in Sulphur Springs, Texas, by Toole Design Group.
“The 2019 RBA medalists illustrate the transformative power of design in creating places that bring people together and lift the human spirit,” said RBA Founder Simeon Bruner in a separate press release. "Gold Medalist Crosstown Concourse is an innovative, locally driven solution to the challenge of repurposing legacy infrastructure nationwide. It reflects strong community values that foster inclusiveness and opportunity."
The 2019 selection committee for the RBA medalists included Libby Schaaf, mayor, City of Oakland, Calif.; Adrian Benepe, senior vice president and director of National Programs at the Trust for Public Land, New York; Brenda Breaux, executive director for the New Orleans Redevelopment Authority (NORA), New Orleans; Carol Coletta, president and CEO of the Memphis River Parks Partnership, Memphis, Tenn.; Marc Norman, associate professor of Practice at the University of Michigan, Taubman School of Architecture and Urban Planning, Ann Arbor, Mich.; and Carol Ross Barney, FAIA, principal designer, Ross Barney Architects, Chicago.