Win an Award and Recognition for Your Innovative Park Design!

By Richard J. Dolesh | Posted on March 8, 2018

Innovation in Park Design Award

What agency wouldn’t like to have the honor of being named the first-ever awardee of the Innovation in Park Design award from NRPA? 

Park agencies have a never-before-now opportunity to submit their innovative park designs for this new NRPA national award, but the deadline of March 23 is fast approaching. 

The good news is that the online application is brief and easy to complete, and you can easily upload drawings or photos with your submittal. There is ample time to evaluate your most innovative projects and apply for this award.

The criteria for the award are simple: “This award recognizes a park and recreation agency that manages a unique park or facility that embraces innovative technology, strategies or programs to improve their community.” You should consider applying if your innovative facility or park or project embraces innovative technology, strategies or programs that improve your community.

One important part of the criteria is how well your park or project serves the community in which it is located. You will be asked to describe how the project meets the critical needs of the community and what is innovative about your approach.

If you have been a regular reader of Parks and Recreation magazine, NRPA’s Open Space blog,or any of the many other NRPA sources, such as SmartBrief, Express and others, you will know that innovative design is a hot topic and a highly regarded subject. There are dozens of ways that forward-thinking park and recreation agencies are pushing the envelope in innovative design. Innovation occurs in many ways — meeting a perplexing challenge, seeking a new and more efficient way to do things, crossover thinking that solves multiple problems at the same time, using disruptive technologies — and there are dozens of ways innovation in parks and recreation takes place.

Here are just a few examples to stimulate your thinking about what project of yours might qualify for the Innovation in Park Design Award:

  • Use of renewable energy sources — solar, wind, water, biomass.  How are you designing parks and facilities to tap renewable energy sources or utilizing design techniques to maximize active and passive natural heat and cooling?
  • Green infrastructure stormwater management — park agencies across the country are realizing the value and potential of green infrastructure for stormwater management.  What are you doing innovatively?
  • Innovative park design — creative design of parks, innovative use of new materials, cutting-edge use of technology
  • Adapting to and mitigating climate change conditions — addressing the challenges that climate change and sea-level rise are bringing to parks and recreation everywhere.  Are you designing for the future in a climate-changing world? Drought tolerant landscapes, low-flow irrigation, playgrounds with integrated shade structures and other techniques to beat extreme heat and UV radiation?
  • Designing for resiliency now and in the future — living shorelines, floodable parks, sustainable landscapes — how are you making your parks and your communities more resilient?
  • Innovatively meeting challenges that are making park and recreation agencies think about how to serve the public in new ways — off-leash free-ranging parks for dogs and owners; universal design for persons of all ages and abilities; parks that will serve autonomous vehicles. How much are you thinking out-of-the box?
  • Designing safer parks – energy efficient lighting; community policing strategies; creative facility design; use of technology for public safety

The Innovation in Park Design Award is your opportunity to propose your best designs and solutions and let them shine. This is a great way for your agency to receive national credit for innovation, something that is appreciated and admired by your community, your elected officials and your peers.

How do we apply?

Go to the NRPA Innovation Awards webpage. You will find instructions for all the NRPA Innovation Awards, including the Innovation in Park Design Award. Note: The Innovation Awards are solely agency awards.  While agencies may include input from design firms or individuals, it is the public park and rec agency that must apply.

Don’t delay. The application is simple and easy to complete, but the deadline is March 23, 2018.

Questions? Email us!


Rich Dolesh is NRPA’s Vice President for Strategic Initiatives.