Center for Active Design celebrates its first Excellence award winners

The hydroponic rooftop farm at Arbor House in the South Bronx.
© Bernstein Associates courtesy of Center for Active Design. The hydroponic rooftop farm at Arbor House in the South Bronx.

The Center for Active Design is an organization that’s dedicated to promoting the idea that architecture can help us live less sedentary lives. Born from an initiative started during Michael Bloomberg’s mayorship, The Center for Active Design is now a nonprofit organization that works with city agencies, private architects and educational institutions.

This week, the organization celebrated the winners of its first annual Excellence awards at an event in New York City. Four fully completed projects won Excellence awards, which were selected from among 40 entries and represent a range of different types of projects and geographic locations. Below are the four winners.

Blue Hole Regional Park

The Blue Hole park development set out to balance the needs of the local community, the ecosystem and the hundreds of visitors who come to swim in this natural pool in Wimberley, Texas. “We knew going in that the community wanted to balance programming with tourism,” said Emily Risinger of Design Workshop. Design Workshop created soccer fields, basketball courts, hiking and camping ground while at the same time protecting 96 percent of the area’s undisturbed habitat from development.

Sephardic Community Center

This renovation in Brooklyn, New York transformed a 30-year old building. The redesign makes the main lobby staircase a prominent pathway for visitors to circulate. The renovations also include the addition of a fitness center and pool.

Greenbridge Master Plan

This community redesign by GGLO turned a car-centric suburban space in King County, Washington into a walkable, bike-able greenway. Part of an affordable housing site, Greenbrige makes it easier for pedestrians to travel around the community and the addition of community gardens improves access to fresh and local foods.

Buckingham County Primary and Elementary Schools

As childhood obesity reaches an epidemic level in the United States, it seems that creating active spaces in elementary schools is a pressing need. This school in Dillwyn, Virginia leads the way with furniture that encourages active postures, plenty of creative play space and a food garden that provides healthy snacks.

In addition to the four projects above, the Blue Sea Development Company was awarded the Leadership prize for incorporating active design elements into public housing projects for the New York City Housing Authority. This includes creating gyms and playgrounds, in addition to creating a hydroponic roof garden for a low-income building in the South Bronx. “I’m really thrilled to play a small part,” said Les Bluestone, co-owner of Blue Sea Development.

The Center for Active Design aims to both contribute directly in active design projects and be a thought leader by publishing guidelines and honoring exemplary projects. Executive Director Joanna Frank said that it was important to the organization that the awards highlight completed projects.

She looks forward to next year’s event. “We know there are a lot of great projects in the pipeline,” she said.

Center for Active Design celebrates its first Excellence award winners
Architecture that inspires physical movement and play was honored this week at Celebrate Active Design.

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