2012 Athena Medals

Beginning at CNU XIV, the Athena Medals have been issued in honor of those who have cast a lasting and enduring influence on the practice and thought of New Urbanism. Named after the goddess - defender of the city, weaver of fabric - the Athena Medals recognize the legacy of pioneers who laid the groundwork for the movement.

Be one of the first 400 registrants before the end of the year and receive guaranteed seating at the last-ever Athena Medals ceremony, honoring the renown team behind New York's Peterson-Littenberg Architecture and Urban Design, Barbara Littenberg and Steven Peterson.

Past Recipients

2012 Athena Medals Ceremony

The Uniqueness of Urban Design

Our understanding of Urban Design has emerged from the unique conditions and requirements of the dense traditional city, where we have focused our practice for the past 40 years. Primary among these is the need to combine high-rise towers with mid or low rise, high-density fabric to satisfy the economic requirements of the contemporary city.

The demographic trend away from the center city to the suburb in the US has been reversed over the last generation -- our cities are growing again. We are further witnessing intense urbanization from a population explosion in the developing world. As a result, differences and similarities between urban design and town planning need to be identified to adequately address issues of the increasing scale, size and density we are experiencing.

These include: how to tolerate multiple stylistic architectures in a coherent manner; how to design urban continuity with non-uniform and frequently changing architectural components; and how to make an architecture with contextual connections that provide surface continuities with its neighbors. In the city, individual buildings must touch and blend to form a solid block perimeter containing inner privacy and an outer edge of public space.

It is an honor to be awarded CNU’s Athena Prize, and to be invited to share with you some insights about Urban Design from our experience and work designing cities, including our participation in the World Trade Center reconstruction Competition.

- Barbara Littenberg and Steven Peterson.

Barbara Littenberg

Barbara Littenberg is co-partner and majority owner of Peterson Littenberg Architecture & Urban Design, whose work has ranged from private homes to large-scale urban design projects. Their work widely published internationally, the firm received a National AIA award for the Clinton Master Plan in New York City.

Since September 11, 2001, Peterson Littenberg Architecture and Urban Design, has participated in an unusual set of urban design projects in Lower Manhattan. Soon after the attack on the World Trade Center, the firm began pro-bono site studies for the nonprofit group New York New Visions. Then, hired by the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation as urban design consultants, Peterson Littenberg generated over 15 urban design site alternatives for the World Trade Center site in an intense three-month period, working alongside the board and staff of the LMDC.

Peterson Littenberg have also worked as urban designers for Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s Vision for Lower Manhattan. As one of seven teams participating in the World Trade Center Innovative Design Study, their presentation of a distinct urban design approach included many principals that have been incorporated into the final design.

Littenberg received her Bachelor of Architecture from Cornell University. She is licensed to practice architecture in New York State and holds N.C.A.R.B. certification. She has taught architecture as a lecturer at Princeton University School of Architecture and Columbia University Graduate School of Architecture and Planning, and as Associate Professor at Yale University School of Architecture, where she directed the Urban Housing studio and was chairperson of Graduate Architectural Admissions. She has also been a visiting studio critic at the Harvard Graduate School of Design on several occasions. Most recently, she was Visiting Professor at the University of Notre Dame Rome Program.

Steven Peterson

Steven Peterson has a 40-year involvement with urban design and city planning, and is co-founder of Peterson Littenberg Architects with his partner Barbara Littenberg. The firm has done a wide variety of Urban Design projects and has won two major international competitions – the Cité International in Montréal and the redevelopment of the Quartier Les Halles in Paris.

Peterson Littenberg Architecture has extensive experience in New York City, from the Clinton Community Master Plan to the Lower Manhattan Urban Design Plan. Since the events of September 11, 2001, Peterson Littenberg Architecture and Urban Design has conducted pro-bono site studies for the nonprofit group New York New Visions and was hired by the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation as urban design consultants.

Mr. Peterson earned a Bachelors degree in Architecture and a Masters in Urban Design from Cornell University. He has taught architecture and urban design, lectured at Princeton University and held posts such as Assistant Professor at Columbia University. He was Executive Director of the Institute for Architecture and Urban Studies in New York, and was appointed the Distinguished Visiting Kei Professor at the University of Maryland. He has been a visiting professor at the University of Pennsylvania, Harvard, Yale, and Cornell, and has spent time in Florence, Italy directing the Syracuse University Post-Professional Program in Architecture. He is licensed to practice architecture in New York State and holds N.C.A.R.B. certification.