ULI Hines Student Competition 2016 Winner: “The Midtown Beat” — Harvard University


Original Entry Title: The Midtown Beat
Team code:
Harvard University

Overview (Narrative excerpt from final four team submission)

The Midtown Beat draws from Atlanta’s rich cultural and economic history to ensure its continued place as the primary hub of the American Southeast. The plan weaves together a strategy for the redevelopment of the Midtown neighborhood that capitalizes on some of the district’s most defining “beats:” innovation, culture, and health.

The innovation beat leverages momentum in the technology and engineering sectors to ensure that Midtown remains at the center of Atlanta’s economic growth. This “Beat” concentrates along the north-south axis of Spring Street, and culminates at the Maker Square and Innovation Hub. The Maker Square is a highly-visible community hacker space that opens up onto a public plaza; it is also host to OpportunityHub, the largest minority-owned start-up accelerator in the country. The Innovation Hub offers flexible, “soft landing” sites for growing start-ups, where they can also display their products to the public. Hotels and more traditional office spaces for a growing healthcare-IT sector complement these sites. Public Wifi and charging stations are available across the project for employees, residents, and visitors alike.

The culture beat recognizes Midtown’s role as the “Heart of the Arts,” with its prominent institutions and historic sites. Along the east-west axis of Ponce de Leon, local and regional icons like the Fox Theater, All Saints’ Church, and the Varsity are reinvigorated through a number of new public spaces. These places are connected through the public realm from The Porch to All Saints’ Plaza and the new North Ave Station. The two blocks adjacent to the Connector between Ponce de Leon and 4th Avenue are raised to create The Porch, a new public and performance space that connects Midtown and Georgia Tech with a new pedestrian bridge. The Olympic Tower within The Porch is repurposed with food/beverage and programmed for interaction displaying events and personal messages.

The health beat draws its inspiration from Atlanta’s identity as the “City in a Forest,” creating a new lively network of green spaces and paths throughout the site to promote a healthy quality of life. The public realm includes a health circuit for staying active. The redesigned streetscape and bike lanes link the project to both the campus of Georgia Tech as well as the scenic landscape of Piedmont Park. Water features in the Tech Grove and Maker Square are designed to capture stormwater runoff, while also offering a cool reprieve during the summer. Investments in new transit options – including a re-routed shuttle for Georgia Tech, new bike lanes, and redesigned car circulation complement and strengthen existing public transportation around North Avenue Station.

Midtown Beat phasing diagrams (Detail)

Midtown Beat Phasing Diagrams (Detail)

Specific venues are designed to capitalize on the overlap between the Beats. A food market by day and a music and arts venue by night, The Culture Lab is a citywide entertainment destination that provides kitchen and lab space for food research, studio space for musicians, and live-work apartments on the upper floors for artists and entrepreneurs alike. The Block @ The Varsity introduces a new programmatic element to the neighborhood icon – a covered terrace and roof deck is placed adjacent to the existing building, providing a performance, entertainment and dining space for outdoor activities drawing in a wide range of visitors. The North Avenue Station is redeveloped utilizing the existing site grade change to provide a more open and accessible entry into the neighborhood with new retail and apartments.

Diverse housing programs reinforce the district’s innovative identity. New housing for science and technology students shares a building with corporate innovation labs encouraging partnerships between the university and local businesses. Twenty percent of all rentals and for-sale apartments are affordable for low-income families. This ensures Midtown is accessible to a wide range of Atlantans, as the Midtown Beat cements Atlanta’s role as a major regional leader in innovation, culture and health.



  • Jonathan Andrews, Master of Landscape Architecture
  • Chris Merritt (Team leader), Master of Landscape Architecture
  • Stephany Lin, Master of Urban Planning
  • Benjamin Perdomo, Master in Design Real Estate and the Built Environment
  • Caroline Filice Smith, Master of Architecture in Urban Design

Faculty advisers

  • Alex Krieger, Professor in Practice of Urban Design

Final Four Submission Materials

Original Submission Materials

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