GSD announces winners of 2013 Veronica Rudge Green Prize in Urban Design

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CAMBRIDGE, MA (August 26, 2013)—The Harvard Graduate School of Design (GSD) is pleased to announce the awarding of the 11th Veronica Rudge Green Prize in Urban Design to two projects, The Metro do Porto in Porto, Portugal, and the Northeastern Urban Integration Project in Medellín, Colombia, in a ceremony to be held on Tuesday, September 3, 2013, at 6:30 p.m. in Piper Auditorium at the GSD. Rahul Mehrotra, Professor and Chair of the Department of Urban Planning and Design, and Prize Jury Chair, will host a panel discussion including presentations by representatives (designers and administrators) of the two winning teams. The event will be followed by a reception and viewing of the exhibition Transformative Mobilities: Porto & Medellín, installed in the GSD’s Gund Hall gallery.

The exhibition will be open to the public Monday through Friday, 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m., from August 26 to October 13, 2013. In addition to images, drawings, and video footage describing the two projects, the exhibition will incorporate video commentary from members of the jury and others contextualizing the projects within contemporary urban design practice. Peter G. Rowe, Raymond Garbe Professor of Architecture and Urban Design, Harvard University Distinguished Service Professor, and former Dean of the Graduate School of Design, will present video commentary on the history and development of the Veronica Rudge Green Prize. 

A website featuring an in-depth look at the winning projects, video interviews with the jurors, and a history of the prize can be found at

About the Award-Winning Projects

The Metro do Porto in Porto, Portugal, was designed by Architect Eduardo Souto de Moura, who conceptualized the architecture of the metro and facilitated the delivery of the project. The prize also acknowledges the central role of the transport authority Metro do Porto.

The Northeastern Urban Integration Project in Medellín, Colombia, was sponsored by the City of Medellín, which receives the award for its vision and ongoing support of this project. The prize also acknowledges the design leadership of Architect Alejandro Echeverri and the role of the agency Empresa de Desarrollo Urbano (EDU) in the design, management, and execution of the project.

By awarding the prize to these two projects, the jury wishes to highlight the potential for thoughtfully planned and carefully executed mobility infrastructures to transform a city and its region. The extent to which these projects deploy new infrastructures to repair and regenerate the city through well- articulated design interventions is particularly valuable within the global context of contemporary urbanization.

The two works create opportunities for mobility that go beyond physical movement to advance social mobility and reinvigorate civic space. Placing these two highly successful yet vastly different projects within the same conceptual frame also highlights the diverse economic, political, cultural, and logistical challenges that each has surmounted.

Metro do Porto

Metro do Porto is a heavy-infrastructure project of significant scale and complexity. Comprising approximately 70 kilometers of new surface and subsurface track and sixty new stations, it was designed and constructed in about ten years. The scope of such an undertaking within a UNESCO World Heritage City is noteworthy. The incredibly high standard of design achieved by Souto de Moura and his team sets this project apart and makes it worthy of emulation.

Porto and its region consist of sixteen municipalities undergoing intense demographic change and socioeconomic restructuring. The Metro do Porto is a strategically decisive project, providing the future template for a cohesive and resilient regional pattern. While mobility plays an important role in achieving this goal, the authority’s decision to engage a designer of Souto de Moura’s stature has ensured the project’s success at all scales. 

At the scale of the region, Metro do Porto not only connects residents on the periphery with amenities and services in the historic city, it also forges a collective identity through its negotiation of the region’s unique geography, and the deliberate composition of individual stations in relation to that geography. At the neighborhood scale, new stations become opportunities to connect previously segregated communities while rehabilitating public space to the highest standard. At the architectural or human scale, the experience of each station—as objects within a culturally rich urban landscape, and as interior architectures imbued with civic virtues—is exceptional due to their spatial and material quality.

Metro do Porto exhibits a generosity toward the public realm that is unusual for a contemporary infrastructure project. The capacity of Souto de Moura and his team to negotiate the myriad technical and administrative constraints makes this a truly remarkable urban design project.

Northeastern Urban Integration Project, Medellín

The Northeastern Urban Integration Project in Medellín (Proyecto Urbano Integral, or PUI) was initiated by the City of Medellín in 2004 to harness opportunities presented by the MetroCable, a new cable-car project connecting three informal settlements to the metropolitan transit system. In concert with the MetroCable, the PUI has made a significant contribution toward improving the quality of life for approximately 170,000 residents experiencing severe social inequality, poverty, and violence. 

The PUI leverages the economic benefits of new mobility infrastructure to incorporate marginalized communities into the city. By reducing travel times to the city center from over an hour to less than ten minutes, the MetroCable has enhanced access to employment opportunities and eroded the boundary between the formal and informal city.

Working with the community to conceptualize, develop, and construct new open-space networks, the designers of the PUI have sensitively integrated a mobility infrastructure of substantial scale with various civic, commercial, and institutional functions. The project demonstrates that designers can make a significant contribution toward the strategic goals of large and socially complex projects by developing processes that promote ownership by the community.

The PUI is an exemplary strategy for civic regeneration where urban design is integral to the broad suite of tools for repairing the social fabric of the city. Such an outcome would not be possible without the financial and administrative support of a visionary institution like the City of Medellín.

The Jury

The 2013 jury was chaired by Rahul Mehrotra, Professor of Urban Design and Planning and Chair of the Department of Urban Planning and Design, Harvard GSD. Other jury members were Anita Berrizbeitia, Professor of Landscape Architecture, Harvard GSD; Joan Busquets, Martin Bucksbaum Professor in Practice of Urban Planning and Design, Harvard GSD; Gary Hilderbrand, Professor in Practice of Landscape Architecture, Harvard GSD, and; Michael Sorkin, Distinguished Professor of Architecture and Director of the Graduate Urban Design Program at the Bernard and Anne Spitzer School of Architecture at City College, New York. Sorkin commented on the significance of the two prize-winning projects:

“If there are lessons to be drawn for urban design from Medellín and Porto, I think the broader lesson has to do with the disruption of the segregation of the disciplines in the design field. Historically we have understood that Landscape Architecture sits in one place, Architecture in another, and Urban Design and Planning [in another, with all three disciplines] in constant conflict about their territorial rights. One of the things that is revolutionary about the Medellín project is that distinguishing among the disciplines is no longer possible.”

About the Prize

The Veronica Rudge Green Prize in Urban Design is the foremost award recognizing achievement in this field. The award was established in 1986 on the occasion of Harvard University’s 350th anniversary and the 50th anniversary of the Harvard Graduate School of Design. Nominations for the prize are received from an extensive network of academics and urban design professionals.

The prize is awarded biennially to recognize exemplary urban design projects. Projects must be more than one building or an open space built anywhere in the world within the last ten years or so that makes a positive contribution to the public realm of a city and improves the quality of urban life in that context. The project must also demonstrate a humane and worthwhile direction for the design of urban environments.

Recent recipients of the prize include the Cheonggyecheon Restoration Project in Seoul, Korea, by the Seoul Metropolitan Government (2010); the Olympic Sculpture Park in Seattle, Washington, by Weiss/Manfredi (2007); the Rehabilitation of the Old City of Aleppo, Syria, by the City of Aleppo (2005); Borneo Sporenburg Residential Waterfront in Amsterdam, the Netherlands, by Adriaan Geuze/West 8 (2002); and the Favela-Bairro Project in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, by Jorge Mario Jáuregui Architects (2000).

For more information and images contact:
Benjamin Prosky
Assistant Dean for Communications
[email protected]