City Walk BHAM Wins Alabama APA Outstanding Urban Design Award

23 / October / 2023

Barge is excited to have won the Franklin M. Setzer Outstanding Urban Design Award from the American Planning Association (APA) Alabama Chapter for our planning and urban design of City Walk BHAM. The award was presented at this year’s annual Joint Chapter Fall Conference with APA Mississippi. The Franklin M. Setzer Outstanding Urban Design Project Award is named after Frank Setzer, former director of the Auburn University Architecture and Urban Studies Center in Birmingham. This award is presented to a project in which design is an integral part of the planning process and is a major concern of the built environment.

Barge worked closely with the firm’s longtime client, the Alabama Department of Transportation (ALDOT) to design a master plan for the expansive 31-acre, 10-block project called City Walk BHAM. The team designed strategic, innovative spaces to reconnect neighborhoods from both sides of downtown Birmingham’s I-59/I-20 bridges through engaging, high-end activities. 

The planning and master plan design resulted from eight years of collective, community-focused efforts. This included gathering local feedback through public outreach meetings, involvement opportunities, and online surveys. Popular requests from the community included walking paths, a dog park, a food truck area, sports fields, a world-class playground, water features, a 60,000-SF skate park, a Biergarten, pickleball courts, and an amphitheater.

“It’s hard to find a precedence within the United States on spaces underneath an interstate that have been transformed or redeveloped,” Barge landscape architect Paul Darr said. “City Walk BHAM provided the perfect platform for innovative planning, creating an active mile-long space that brings Birmingham communities together for a more equitable future.”

It was a massive undertaking to demolish and rebuild the I-59/I-20 bridge system, but this effort paved the way for a historic transformation of downtown Birmingham, connecting important landmarks and venues through creative spaces and public engagement. 

Earlier this year, Barge received a national Honor Award for its City Walk BHAM master plan design from the American Council of Engineering Companies.