Inspiration Kitchens in Garfield Park, Chicago, took home the Bruner Foundation’s Rudy Bruner Award for Urban Excellence (RBA) gold medal, which comes with $50,000 in support for the project. Four other projects won silver medals and $10,000. More than 90 projects were submitted from more than 30 states.
The biennial award celebrates “urban places distinguished by quality design and contributions to the social, economic, and communal vitality of our nation’s cities.” The first awards were given in 1987. Together, the Bruner Foundation has awarded 67 projects $1.2 million in support.
Inspiration Kitchens is an “entrepreneurial, nonprofit initiative” on Chicago’s west side. In an economically-challenged part of the city, this LEED Gold certified facility, with a 80-seat restaurant, serves free and affordable healthy meals.
Overlooking Garfield Park‘s lagoons, the restaurant features a “constantly changing menu of regional American cuisine with southern and soul food influences.” The restaurant prides itself on being “earth-friendly, including our use of local ingredients, solar-heated water and sun-sensitive kitchen lighting.”
There, a team organized by Inspiration Corporation, the group behind the project, offers a “thirteen-week training program that helps individuals gain skills and experience leading to food service industry employment.”
Shannon Stewart, executive director and CEO, Inspiration Corporation, said: “We are proud of our success in creating meaningful connections in Garfield Park and are grateful that the award will help us continue to engage with members of this under-served community.” Inspiration Corporation provides social services to Chicagoans hit by homelessness and poverty.
Four other projects won silver medals and $10,000:
The Congo Street Initiative in Dallas, Texas, by buildingcommunityWORKSHOP, a non-profit community design center, rehabilitated five houses and constructed a sixth for transitional housing. The housing is LEED Platinum-certified. A green street was created in collaboration with the residents. Learn more about this project at Metropolis.
Louisville Waterfront Park in Louisville, Kentucky, is an 85-acre urban park that re-purposed industrial land and connected the city with the Ohio River. The Urban Land Institute (ULI) recently named it one of the ten best parks in the country. Landscape architecture firm Hargreaves Associates created the master plan for the park and also designed the Lincoln Memorial there. Learn more about this project at Metropolis.
The Steel Yard in Providence, Rhode Island, designed by landscape architecture firm Klopfer Martin Design Group, is one of the more interesting urban parks to appear in years. The 3.5-acre park in a transformed historic steel fabrication plant won an ASLA professional design award in 2011. The non-profit that runs the site offers a range of creative classes and events. Learn more about the park.
Lastly, Via Verde in Bronx, New York, by Jonathan Rose Companies and Phipps Houses, is a 222-unit, LEED Gold certified, affordable housing development. The project has won numerous architecture awards. The landscape architecture was created by Lee Weintraub, FASLA. Learn more about this project at Metropolis.
The 2013 RBA selection committee included: Mayor Mick Cornett, Oklahoma City; Ann Coulter, Owner, A. Coulter Consulting; Walter Hood, FASLA, Principal, Hood Design; Cathy Simon – Design Principal, Perkins+Will; Susan Szenasy – Editor-in-Chief, Metropolis Magazine; and Jane Werner, Executive Director, Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh.
Learn more: A blog series on Metropolis’ web site is chronicling the 2013 RBA process, and later this year the Bruner Foundation will publish a book of case studies on the winning projects.
Image credits: (1) Inspiration Kitchen / Inspiration Corporation, (2) Louisville Waterfront Park / Louisville Waterfront Park Corporation, (3) Congo Street Initiative / bcWORKSHOP, (4) The Steel Yard Park / Klopfer Martin, (5) Via Verde / © David Sundberg/Esto