2012 IMCL Special Awards

The 2012 IMCL International Urban Revitalization Award will be awarded for Ecuador’s nation-wide program “The Plaza: A Place of Encounter”, a visionary project to revitalize social life and economic vitality by restoring the country’s historic plazas.

Jacobo Herdoíza, Director of this project, will give a public presentation on Monday evening, May 21, at the 49th IMCL Conference that takes place at the Governor Hotel, in Portland, OR, May 20-24. This will be followed by presentation of the Award to Mr. Herdoíza, who will receive it on behalf of Ecuador’s Ministry of Cultural Heritage (Ministerio Coordinador de Patrimonio) on May 22.

The project was launched in Ibarra, in April 2011. The website identified the challenge: “The Plaza, in most Latin-American cities, was the point from which the city, public life, commerce, symbolic space and the seat of power developed. Today, the Plaza’s functionality is negatively affected by environmental and social factors, by problems of accessibility, and by urban development pressures, causing deterioration of the urban image, as well as civic activity. The potential for social integration in the city depends on possibilities for social encounter and exchange among people. In this sense, the use of public space, and particularly the Plaza, is an effective instrument for social cohesion.

Ecuador’s National Plan for Good Living (El Plan Nacional para el Buen Vivir) is developing directions for community participation in the revitalization of these public places. A book about the project is in preparation.

The theme of the 49th IMCL Conference, Planning Healthy Communities for All, is perfectly exemplified by Ecuador’s visionary project, “The Plaza: A Place of Encounter”.

IMCL is dedicated to enhance well-being, strengthen community, improve social and physical health, and increase civic engagement by reshaping the built environment of our cities, suburbs and towns. A current IMCL focus is to inspire cities to build or revive multifunctional town squares that, like the ancient agora or medieval marketplace, can regenerate civic engagement and democratic participation.