Great Places – Washington – 2018: Recognizing Great Gathering Places!

In 2017, the Washington Chapter of the American Planning Association (APA) initiated a pilot program to recognize “great places” in Washington State.  The Program is based on the National American Planning Association’s Great Places in America program.  The Pilot program focused on “great neighborhoods”, and awards were given to one neighborhood in both eastern and western Washington.  A total of six nominations were received and evaluated by the panel.  The Great Places program will generate positive publicity for successful planning in the state by recognizing neighborhoods, streets, and other places that not just planners but allied professionals and a more general audience would also recognize as great places to be.

The Washington Chapter Board of Directors has approved continuing the Great Places program on an annual basis, and for 2018 the theme will be “great gathering places”!  The coordinating committee has preliminarily decided to grant awards to three different gathering spaces, based on their relative size: small (less than 10,000 square feet); medium (10,000 sq. ft. to one acre in size); and large spaces greater than an acre in size.  Awards will be announced at the Washington Chapter conference in October 2018. 

A call for nominations will be issued in May 2018.  Applications will be due in mid-July.  The coordinating committee is now in the process of finalizing the awards criteria to be considered by the jury in evaluating submittals.  Draft criteria thus far include:

  • Be located in Washington State and may be within a town, city, county, or tribal land.
  • Be mostly outdoors and open to the public and free of charge at least 12 hours a day.
  • Include a variety of functional attributes that encourage human contact and social activity for all age groups.  Larger spaces are expected to include a wider variety of such attributes.
  • Be inclusive and encourage human contact and social activity for all age groups.
  • Feature definable boundaries while having good linkages to surrounding uses and areas.
  • Features design elements and architectural features that are visually interesting and contribute to the use and enjoyment of the space.

The Great Places Committee and the Chapter Board encourage submissions by all interested parties, including neighborhood associations, chambers of commerce, cities, towns, and counties.  Applications and instructions will be available for download at the Washington APA Chapter website in May once the call for nominations is issued:

Return to the March/April issue of The Washington Planner