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By the numbers, over 6,200 graduate students on close to 1,200 teams have participated in the competition since its first year in 2003, representing more than 150 schools in the United States and Canada from 45 ULI district council areas. In 2014, 163 teams from 72 schools submitted entries. In 2003, the competition’s first year, 56 teams submitted entries.

Many current and future participants find it useful to examine the competition brief and winning and finalist entries from past years, which can be found below. For additional information about past competitions, e-mail udcompetition@uli.org.

2013—Minneapolis

The 11th annual ideas competition challenged interdisciplinary student teams to create a practical and workable scheme for a section of the Downtown East neighborhood in Minneapolis. The competition was based on a hypothetical scenario in which two property owners had entered into an agreement in which they evaluated the benefits and financial possibilities of combining their parcels. The owners’ properties—largely used as surface parking lots—were analyzed to determine whether they could be redeveloped or sold as one large development site. In the scenario, the city of Minneapolis, eager to see this section of downtown grow into a neighborhood and regional destination, provided an incentive for these property owners to redevelop, albeit with strings attached: the city would construct a 500-space parking structure and provide $600,000 for public space through tax incentives. As a condition, the city also requested that the new development lease at least 100 of these spaces at a rate of $3,000 per space annually to serve the development for ten years. In addition, the city asked that the development scheme include affordable housing and begin to connect Downtown East with Elliot Park to the south and the Mill District to the north.

Download competition stage brief
Download finalist stage brief

 

 

2012—Houston

Interdisciplinary teams participating in the widely recognized competition were challenged with creating a practical and workable scheme for the best use of approximately 16.3 acres owned by the United States Postal Service (USPS). The competition focused on the USPS property since it is considered by many stakeholders to be a key site to reconnect the theater district, the historic district, and the greater downtown to the Buffalo Bayou.

The competition is based on a hypothetical proposal in which a fictional entity, the Central Houston Foundation (CHF), acquired the option to purchase the site and determine its redevelopment goals and connections to the surrounding areas. According to the scenario, the CHF has committed a large endowment to both community development and the sustainable growth of Houston’s downtown in hopes of generating a revenue stream for its endowment while giving shape to a new downtown district.

Download competition stage brief
Download finalist stage brief

 

 

2011—Seattle

The 2011 competition challenged teams to create a scheme for approximately 33.5 acres around the Mount Baker station of Sound Transit’s Link Light Rail system. Based on a hypothetical proposal, the landowner seeks to devise a long-term development proposal that will leverage the potential of the neighborhood and give an identity to the area surrounding the station. Therefore, the challenge posed to the students was to devise 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.

Download the competition stage brief
Download the finalist stage brief

 

 

2010—San Diego

The brief was based on a hypothetical situation in which San Diego’s Centre City Development Corporation (CCDC), acting on behalf of the San Diego Redevelopment Agency, has issued a request for proposals (RFP) for the redevelopment of a 30-block area of East Village, and which assumes that the owners of individual parcels making up most of the 73.5 acres wish to combine their parcels into one site. Students were challenged with developing a transformative vision in redeveloping the site to give East Village an identity and trigger broader redevelopment throughout the neighborhood.

Download the competition stage brief
Download the finalist stage brief

 

 

2009—Denver

For the 2009 competition, student teams were asked to present schemes portraying them as single-entity owners of the Denver Design District (DDD), a valuable midtown parcel comprising three properties among roughly 75 acres just 1.5 miles south of downtown. While the DDD boasts an impressive tenant roster and is the largest to-the-trade design center in an eight-state region, its built environment resembles that of a typical suburban power center. Based on the assumption that the DDD parcel has ample potential for a higher and better use, the competition charged the teams with redeveloping the entire 75-acre site and creating a landmark, transformative mixed-use community without losing the current valuable roster of tenants.

Download the competition stage brief
Download the finalist stage brief

 

 

2008—Dallas

The 2008 site was a 64-acre area south of downtown Dallas bordered by the northern edge of the Interstate 30 right-of-way; the South Central Expressway; the railroad right-of-way between and paralleling Corinth Street and Grand Avenue; and South Austin Street. The teams were directed to assume that three major infrastructure initiatives to transform downtown Dallas had been adopted: the Trinity River Corridor (recreational amenities, water management, and environmental reclamation); the Trinity River Parkway (a ten-mile express toll road to divert through-traffic from downtown); and Project Pegasus (the redesign of downtown interstates and interchanges). Also assumed was the decking-over of “the canyon,” a 1.5-mile below-grade stretch of Interstate 30, potentially reclaiming 57 acres of developable land. Teams could choose any 12-block site within the Cedars and propose a development scheme for it.

Download the competition stage brief
Download the finalist stage brief

2008 Winner and Finalist Entries

 

 

2007—Los Angeles

Teams were charged with forming a quasi-public agency to redevelop the East First Street corridor from Alameda to Mariachi Plaza, taking into consideration connections to neighborhoods, to a revitalized Los Angeles River proposed in the newly issued master plan, to the new Gold Line Eastside Extension, and the development of the construction staging sites surrounding Mariachi Plaza after the Metropolitan Transportation Authority completes the subway entrance.

Download the competition stage brief
Download the finalist stage brief

 

 

2006—St. Louis

Teams took on the master planning of a parcel located between the northern and southern sections of Saint Louis University’s campus. The competition site intersects with part of the proposed Chouteau Greenway, a $400 million multipurpose project that will involve creating a greenway from Memorial Park on the Mississippi River westward to the city’s 1,300-acre Forest Park, over a course set to include 195 acres of public space and 2,000 acres of mixed-use redeveloped space.

Download the competition stage brief
Download the finalist stage brief

 

 

2005—Salt Lake Valley

Unlike the first two competitions, which focused on a single site, this year’s competition involved selecting one of two sites; both are owned partly by Kennecott Land and are located at the northern end of the company’s holdings in Salt Lake Valley. The students were allowed to choose between a 2,208-acre portion of Magna Township in Salt Lake County, and an undeveloped site known as the Northwest Planning Area, which comprises 2,002 acres and is in the jurisdiction of Salt Lake City. Students were asked to offer master plans that show innovation in smart growth in suburban locations.

Download the competition stage brief
Download the finalist stage brief

2005 Winner and Finalist Entries

 

 

2004—Pittsburgh

Teams focused on a 57-acre parcel adjacent to the Allegheny River, extending from 11th Street at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center to 21st Street; its southern border is Smallman Street. It is the last undeveloped parcel in the Strip District, a former warehouse district transformed into a thriving commercial district of wholesale and retail food markets, restaurants, and nightclubs. Overlying the commercial activity is the Strip District’s traditional use as Pittsburgh’s transportation hub, and a number of transit infrastructure improvements are planned.

 

 

2003—Washington, D.C.

Teams focused on a 16-block, 70-acre area encompassing the South Capitol Street and M Street intersection and the Navy Yard Metrorail station. The area includes a neighborhood of low-density subsidized and market-rate residential units, light-industrial facilities, and small commercial buildings, all cut off from each other by the busy South Capitol Street corridor and cut off from surrounding neighborhoods by the elevated Southeast Freeway.

2003 Winner and Finalist Entries

2015 Competition Schedule

Important dates for the 13th urban design and development challenge for graduate students:

  • October 8, 2014: Teams begin applying to compete.
  • December 8, 2014: Deadline to apply as a team.
  • December 15, 2014: Teams notified of eligibility.
  • January 12–26, 2015: Competition period.
  • February 2015: Finalist teams announced.
  • March 2015: Site visit by a representative from each finalist team.
  • April 2015: Final presentations and winner announced.

For additional information, contact udcompetition@uli.org.

About the Competition

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