Honoring Visionaries Who Inspire Great Places
The ULI J.C. Nichols Prize for Visionaries in Urban Development was established to recognize an individual, or a person representing an institution, whose career demonstrates a commitment to the highest standards of responsible development.
The $100,000 prize honors the legacy of legendary Kansas City, Missouri, developer Jesse Clyde Nichols (1880−1950), a founding ULI member who is widely regarded as one of America’s most influential entrepreneurs in land use during the first half of the 20th century.
2017 NICHOLS LAUREATE:
Internationally acclaimed transportation entrepreneur Robin Chase, who rose to prominence in the early 2000s as the cofounder and chief executive officer of Zipcar, the world’s largest car-sharing company, has been named the 2017 recipient of the Urban Land Institute’s J.C. Nichols Prize for Visionaries in Urban Development. Chase is the 18th recipient of the prize, which recognizes a person, or a person representing an institution, whose work demonstrates a commitment to the creation of communities that reflect the highest standards of design and development.
The lasting impacts of Chase’s car-sharing idea on urban design and development are what earned her the Nichols Prize, which is the Institute’s highest honor. She demonstrated how sharing reduces the number of cars used by urban residents as well as the number of parking spaces they need. She also demonstrated that sharing is welcomed by the mainstream of people, and that it has a viable business model. Zipcar set the stage for the rise of the sharing economy, including Airbnb, Uber, and Lyft.
History of the Nichols Prize
The Nichols Prize, endowed by the family of J.C. Nichols, honors the legacy of the legendary Kansas City, Missouri, developer. A founding ULI member, J.C. Nichols is widely regarded as one of America’s most influential entrepreneurs in land use during the first half of the 1900s.
Nichols pioneered the development of sustainable, mass-market residential neighborhoods built for permanence, and automobile-oriented shopping centers. The Country Club District, a model residential community; Country Club Plaza, a 77-year-old shopping center and multiuse development; and numerous well-preserved suburban communities south of downtown Kansas City attest to his enduring legacy in that city.
Vincent Scully, 2003 Nichols Prize laureate, said of J.C. Nichols, “There is no one involved with the American city who does not owe J.C. Nichols a debt for his vision and method in the planning and development of residential communities. His example has helped this generation to take on that basic program intelligently once again.”
J.C. Nichols’s America: The Suburban World of The Community Builders Handbook
Essay by Robert Fishman (Originally published with occasion of the J.C. Nichols Forum celebrated in Kansas City, Missouri, September 2016)