Kent State’s Cleveland Urban Design Collaborative Wins 2017 Great Places Award From Environmental Design Research Association

Kent State University’s Cleveland Urban Design Collaborative has received the 2017 Great Places Award in the Place Planning category from the Environmental Design Research Association (EDRA). The EDRA Great Places Awards recognize professional and scholarly excellence in environmental design and pay special attention to the relationship between physical form of the built environment and human activity or experience. 

Each year, the association honors work in four categories: Place Design, Place Planning, Place Research and Book Award. The 2017 Place Planning Award specifically recognizes the Kent State Cleveland Urban Design Collaborative’s Making Our Own Space initiative, a youth program focused on engaging and empowering middle and high school students with the skills to transform their neighborhood public spaces.

Making Our Own Space is led by Kent State’s Cleveland Urban Design Collaborative staff in close partnership with a team of local and nationally renowned designers. Focused on outdoor spaces owned by Cleveland Neighborhood Progress and the city of Shaker Heights, Ohio, this initiative uses hands-on, on-site workshops to build physical and social infrastructure in collaboration with the surrounding community. Outdoor workshops organized by students addressed issues related to shared spaces, inclusive decision-making and helping to bring diversity to the design fields by involving youth from underrepresented groups. 

In response to the project, the city of Shaker Heights created a committee of staff, residents and councilpersons to increase leadership opportunities for middle and high school youth. The Shaker Heights City School District is exploring how to incorporate the Making Our Own Space placemaking workshop into its curriculum. The EDRA Great Places Awards jury stated, “This is a great example of planning that involves youth in placemaking and community building.”

Started in 2015 by Kent State University’s Cleveland Urban Design Collaborative, the program supports the collaborative’s Design Diversity initiative by raising awareness in African-American and Latino communities about the range of design careers available to youth. Making Our Own Space workshops expose students to design thinking and making, employing interdisciplinary approaches from architecture, landscape architecture, urban design, planning and graphic design.

Making Our Own Space is made possible through the generous support of Saint Luke’s Foundation, the city of Shaker Heights and the Cleveland Foundation’s Minority Arts and Education Fund. 

For more information about the Environmental Design Research Association, visit

For more information about Making Our Own Space, visit or follow on Instagram at

For more information about Kent State’s Cleveland Urban Design Collaborative, visit

POSTED: Thursday, June 29, 2017 11:40 AM
Updated: Thursday, December 8, 2022 10:23 PM