An interdisciplinary team of five graduate students from the University of Maryland’s architecture, urban planning, real estate development and landscape architecture programs has taken first place in the 2014 Urban Land Institute / Gerald D. Hines Student Urban Design Competition (ULI/Hines). Their winning revitalization plan for Nashville’s Sulphur Dell neighborhood was selected by an international jury of experts in urban design, landscape architecture, planning and development, beating out fellow finalists Harvard University, University of Texas and Georgia Institute of Technology.
“We could not be more proud of our students and the unique vision they brought to this competition,” said David Cronrath, Dean of the School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation. “Academically speaking, this is akin to winning the NCAA Final Four. It’s a huge achievement for the University of Maryland.”
Over 160 teams from 72 of the most prestigious universities in the world competed in this year’s design competition, with four teams advancing to the finals this week. ULI announced Maryland’s win yesterday in Nashville at the competition’s conclusion. As the winning team, the UMD students will go home with the $50,000 first prize.
“This year’s finalists found creative but financially feasible ways of building off the area’s strengths while attending to the concerns of flood resilience and healthy living,” said Jury Chair Bart Harvey, ex-chairman of the Board of Trustees of Enterprise Community Partners and board member at Fannie Mae in Washington, D.C. Harvey and the jury also noted the finalists’ meticulous market research in designing their proposals, along with a solid understanding of what type of development would appeal to Nashville culture.
Now in its 12th year, the ULI/Hines competition challenges interdisciplinary teams of graduate students to create a dynamic design and development solution for a real large-scale site in just two weeks. While this is an ideas competition, it is part of the Urban Land Institute’s continued mission to engage young professionals in collaborative solutions, responsible land use and creating better communities. The competition demands a variety of expertise to navigate complex zoning codes, understand investment opportunities, examine community, site challenges and develop exciting yet realistic urban design solutions. This year’s competition site, the historic Sulfur Dell neighborhood in Nashville, Tennessee, is a largely underused downtown neighborhood that was formerly home to the nation’s oldest baseball stadium. The assignment required teams to devise a creative yet economically feasible urban design plan that focuses on healthy living while incorporating real-world development, preservation, transportation and land use requirements.
Maryland’s entry, entitled “Chords,” brings together the daily experiences of Sulphur Dell’s diverse community through four north-south connectors, referred to by the team as “strings.” The diversity of “chords” made by individuals accessing the variety of amenities along the “strings”—green spaces, a farmers market, an entertainment district, housing and bike paths—create the intertwining rhythms indicative of a healthy, strong community.
“It’s very satisfying to see our students’ talent, dedication and collaborative spirit recognized in such a competitive arena,” said Professor of Architecture Matthew Bell, FAIA, one of the team advisors. “This is a very meaningful win. We are most proud of our team.”
"The UMD team win is a testament to interdisciplinary education and advising. Real estate is not an afterthought at Maryland for students or faculty; it is integral. Our real estate students are schooled in the quadruple bottom line of financial viability, Social responsibility, environmental respect and sustainable design," says Margaret McFarland, director of the Colvin institute of real estate development.
The competition is open to graduate students who are pursuing real estate-related studies at universities in the United States and Canada, including programs in real estate development, urban planning, urban design, architecture and landscape architecture. In the past five years, the University of Maryland has reached the ULI/Hines finals three times and received one honorable mention.
Read ULI’s statement and see footage of the team presenting, here.
Maryland’s winning team is: Andrew Casavant (Master of Community Planning), David Ensor (Master of Architecture), Matthew Miller (Master of Architecture), Amina Mohamed (Master of Landscape Architecture) and Rameez Munawar, (Master of Real Estate Development). Professor of Architecture Matthew Bell, FAIA and professional advisor Tim Phillips of the Bozzuto Group (MRED ’11) are the team’s advisors. To read more about “Chords” and view UMD’s presentation board, visit the ULI/Hines competition site.