SmithGroup Wins American Planning Association Sustainability Award for Eisenhower West Small Area Plan

Plan reflects core ideas generated by the community coupled with economic feasibility

SmithGroup has won a 2016 Award for Excellence in Sustainability from the American Planning Association (APA)’s Sustainable Communities Division for the Eisenhower West Small Area Plan in Alexandria, Virginia, in the category of “Sustainable Urban Design or Preservation Plan or Project.”

The APA Awards for Excellence in Sustainability honor those projects, policies, plans and people that show exemplary scholarship, leadership and inspiration in sustainability planning and implementation. They represent a diverse range of experiences and industries while possessing a shared attribute: a passion for sustainability and its rewards for our future. The award represents the joining of three APA divisions: International, Urban Design and Preservation, and Sustainable Communities.  

This is the second year in a row that SmithGroup has received this prestigious sustainability award. In 2015, the firm received dual awards for the Scotts Run South Master Plan and the Brock Environmental Center.

 “We are honored to have been recognized two years in a row for our sustainable urban planning and architecture,” said Merrill St. Leger Demian, AICP, LEED AP, SmithGroup urban design and planning principal for the project. “The Eisenhower West Plan is both sustainable and transformative, and we’re looking forward to its implementation.”

Eisenhower West is a 620-acre warehouse and light industrial area in Alexandria, Virginia, located 10 miles from downtown Washington, DC. SmithGroup assisted the City of Alexandria’s Department of Planning and Zoning in developing a holistic plan to guide development of a 240-acre subarea over the next 25 years.

The planning process included extensive resident and stakeholder involvement through public workshops with interactive exercises and online engagement. Proposed are six new neighborhoods with a dense mix of uses that leverages the Van Dorn Metrorail station and includes high-quality neighborhood activity nodes and public spaces; new parks in each neighborhood; and a multi-modal transportation network including a new grid of connected, walkable, complete streets.

Forward-thinking recommendations include the designation of one neighborhood as an Innovation District, where residential is mixed with light industrial, small commercial, and innovation/maker spaces; and the revitalization of Backlick Run into a new greenway that connects neighborhoods and helps manage stormwater naturally. The plan also explores utilizing local industrial and infrastructure resources to create environmental and economic benefits, including using the existing waste-to-energy plant to create a District Energy system with Combined Heat-Power, and using reclaimed non-potable water from the local water treatment facility to supply buildings and the waste-to-energy plant’s cooling needs.

Karl W. Moritz, Director of the Department of Planning & Zoning at the City of Alexandria, said, “The Eisenhower West Small Area Plan was groundbreaking in its process of engaging the community throughout the length of the planning effort. The end result was a plan that truly reflected the core ideas generated by the community, coupled with economic feasibility.”

Next steps in the plan’s implementation include establishing an advisory group to guide implementation, and moving key projects into the City of Alexandria’s Capital Improvement Plan.

The American Planning Association (APA), “Making Great Communities Happen,” is an independent, not-for-profit educational organization that provides leadership in the development of vital communities. Members of APA help create communities of lasting value and encourage civic leaders, business interests, and citizens to play a meaningful role in creating communities that enrich people's lives. APA has offices in Washington, D.C., and Chicago, with almost 40,000 members worldwide in nearly 100 countries.

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