The Harvard University Graduate School of Design has named Grand Paris Express the winner of its 2023 Veronica Rudge Green Prize. Now in its 14th year, the prize "recognizes projects that make an exemplary contribution to the public realm of a city, improve the quality of life in that context, and demonstrate a humane and worthwhile direction for the design of urban environments," according to a Harvard GSD press release. The award also includes a $50,000 honorarium.
Grand Paris Express, which has been under construction since 2016, will bring four new transit lines and nearly 70 new stations to the Paris metropolitan area. Slated for completion in 2030, the project—which, according to the Harvard GSD release, is presently the largest urban-design initiative in Europe—will also extend existing lines while facilitating the development of the land around the new stations, where 250,000 to 400,000 units of housing will be constructed. The revamped transit system is expected to provide daily service for some two million commuters across more than 100 cities and towns.
While creating a more streamlined mass transportation network is a top priority for the project, Grand Paris Express—designed and spearheaded by national agency Société du Grand Paris—is also targeting sustainability objectives. Builders are utilizing low-carbon concrete to minimize emissions, for instance, and repurposing the soil unearthed during excavation. More generally, though, developers hope the efficiency of Grand Paris Express will decrease commuters' dependence on personal vehicles and, in turn, "lower the carbon footprint of this megalopolis," the Harvard GSD release states. According to Société du Grand Paris, by 2050, the project will have reduced CO2 emissions by 27.6 million tons. "As a large-scale enterprise, [Grand Paris Express] aims to improve mobility patterns to make Paris more sustainable by creating rapid and nonpolluting connections between existing outskirts and new emerging developments," the Harvard GSD release continues.
To celebrate the project's win, Grand Paris Express: Reconfiguring the City through Radical Infrastructure—an exhibition featuring project models and renderings, among other media—will be on view at Harvard GSD's Druker Design Gallery from Jan. 23, 2023, through March 31, 2023.