The Final Four: Teams Representing the University of Maryland, the University of Oklahoma, and Two Teams from the University of Michigan Are 2011 Finalists for the ULI Gerald D. Hines Student Urban Design Competition

For more information, contact:
Trish Riggs at 1-202-624-7086;
Robert Krueger at 1-202-624-7051;

WASHINGTON (March 1, 2011) – Teams representing the University of Maryland, the University of Oklahoma, and two teams from the University of Michigan have been selected as the finalists for the ninth annual ULI (Urban Land Institute) Gerald D. Hines Student Urban Design Competition. The finalists were charged with the design of a development site in the city of Seattle.

A $50,000 prize will be awarded to the winning team; and each of the remaining three finalist teams will receive $10,000. This year, applications were submitted from 153 teams representing 60 universities in the United States and Canada, with 765 students participating in total.

The interdisciplinary teams of students were challenged with creating a design and development proposal for a 33.5 acre site around the Sound Transit system’s Mount Baker light rail station. The Mount Baker Station, situated in the Seattle’s North Rainier neighborhood, is a key station that will likely define how the city will approach the opportunity to create more sustainable and transit-rich neighborhoods in the coming years. Students were challenged with devising a scheme that not only transforms and brands the neighborhood with an identity, but also serves as a benchmark for future development in the Greater Seattle region.

The competition is based on a hypothetical situation that addresses Seattle’s traffic congestion and sprawling network of auto-oriented neighborhoods and infrastructure. The Mount Baker station, at the intersection of Rainier Avenue and Martin Luther King Jr. Way, is surrounded by property that is currently being used for large parking lots, two heavily-traveled thoroughfares, and single-family detached residential properties. The assumption made by the competition is that the property owners realize how this station might be a “game changer” in how the city embraces new transit-oriented development.

The development schemes from the finalist teams are:

  • University of Maryland: “Pilot Point” exhibited a strong site plan with a thoughtful reconfiguration of the development site’s urban fabric; highlighted by strong linkages to public transit and the Rainier Avenue corridor.
  • University of Oklahoma: “Rainier Boulevard” articulated a clear and realistic development schedule and phasing plan that could conceivably transform the character of the existing development site. The public identity of this proposed neighborhood redevelopment, and its connection to the surrounding community, were conveyed through a strong visual presentation and statement of development objectives.
  • University of Michigan: “Rainier Valley Exchange” is a locus for transit, cultures, and businesses distributed appropriately on a new street grid that completes the existing pattern. This overlay promotes permeability and integration with the neighborhood and maximizes the development’s town-center functions.
  • University of Michigan: “H.O.U.S.E.S.” reorients the site to Rainier Avenue with a strong block pattern, effectively calming traffic throughout the district. The theme of creating a healthy integrated community was consistent throughout, showing a thoughtful and well-communicated conceptual framework.

“The majority of the submissions dealt with the issue of connectivity – specifically, how best to create a linkage through the entire site,” said Jury Chairman James A. Ratner, chairman and chief executive officer, Forest City Commercial Group, Cleveland, Ohio. “The teams took the issues of sustainability and affordability very seriously, addressing both in their plans. Clearly, development that is sustainable and accessible to a broad income mix formed the core of the work from these students.”

The competition jury consists of renowned experts in urban planning, design and development. In addition to Jury Chairman James A. Ratner, other jury members are: Martha Barkman, senior project manager, Harbor Properties, Seattle, Wash.; Dana Behar, president and CEO, HAL Real Estate Investments; Seattle, Wash.; Mimi Burns, principal, Dekker/Perich/Sabatini, Albuquerque, N.M.; Tom Cody, founder and managing partner, Project^, Portland, Ore.; Brian Cullen, founder and chair, Keane Enterprises, Inc., Washington, D.C.; Boris Dramov, principal, ROMA, San Francisco, Calif.; Bonnie Fisher, principal, ROMA, San Francisco, Calif.; Richard Heapes, co-founder and partner, Street-Works, White Plains, N.Y.; Jim Heid, founder, UrbanGreen, San Francisco, Calif.; Jeffrey D. Kune, managing director, BeaconRock Group, LLC, West Palm Beach, Fla.; Michael Lander, founder and president, Lander Group, Minneapolis, Minn.; and Peter S. Stone, principal, Trinity Real Estate, Seattle, Wash.

Seven team entries were also selected for honorable mention. Two honorable mentions for overall merit were awarded to the University of Pennsylvania with “Get Up and Go” and Massachusetts Institute of Technology with “Living Workshop.” In addition, the jury recognized five other entries for specific plan elements. The jury commended Harvard University with “Baker Square” for superior urban design; the University of Oregon with “Water Scapes” for comprehensive thinking about the water cycle; and the University of California at Berkeley with “Urban Catchment” for pedestrian linkage. For transit and transportation solutions, the jury recognized a joint team from North Carolina State University and the University of North Carolina with “A New Rainier” and the University of California at Berkeley with “Rainier Triangle.”

The ULI Gerald D. Hines Student Urban Design Competition strives to encourage cooperation and teamwork–necessary talents in the planning, design and development of sustainable communities–among future land use professionals and allied professions, such as architecture, landscape architecture, urban planning, historic preservation, engineering, real estate development, finance, psychology and law. The competition has been funded through a $3 million endowment from real estate legend Gerald D. Hines, chairman and owner of the Hines real estate organization.

In the final phase of the 2011 competition, which concludes on March 31, the student finalist teams will have the opportunity to expand their original schemes and respond in more detail. On March 11, a member of each finalist team will visit Seattle, all expenses paid, and will have the opportunity to tour the site and refine their presentations. On March 31, finalist team members will present their schemes to the competition jury members during a public forum in Seattle. The event will culminate with the announcement of the winning team. The competition is designed as an exercise; there is no intention that the students’ plans will be implemented as part of any development of the site.

For more information on the ULI Gerald D. Hines Student Urban Design Competition, visit:

About the Urban Land Institute
The Urban Land Institute ( is a global nonprofit education and research institute supported by its members. Its mission is to provide leadership in the responsible use of land and in creating and sustaining thriving communities worldwide. Established in 1936, the Institute has nearly 30,000 members representing all aspects of land use and development disciplines.