The Kevin Lynch Award was established to honor the memory of Kevin Lynch, an MIT alumnus, urban designer, author and member of the faculty of the Department of Urban Studies and Planning  for thirty years. Through his practice, research and writing, Lynch encouraged planning and design professionals and students to adopt approaches to planning that are sensitive to the importance of place as well as the importance of people’s experience of place and to the importance of balancing physical interventions with consideration for the natural environment. As someone who accepted the reality of climate change early on, Lynch understood the delicate relationship between humans and their environment, and he worked to develop methods of practice to better integrate individuals’ perceptions into professional recommendations and theories to better explain the complex relationships among people and the built environment.
Since its establishment in 1988, the City Design and Development group  at MIT’s Department of Urban Studies and Planning  has granted Kevin Lynch Awards to individuals or organizations whose work embodies and advances Kevin Lynch’s research, as developed in his seminal works, The Image of the City  (1960), What Time is this Place?  (1972), Good City Form  (1981) and Site Planning  (1984). Nominees have been selected for their plans, books, research, designed projects, media productions, public processes, or similar contributions to merit the award.
Starting in 2014, the award process organized Lynch’s contributions into five categories that will guide the nomination and selection process in future awards cycles. Past winners have been retroactively assigned to each category.