The Fleet Management facility located on Chicago’s north side. (ULI/Nathan Weber)

The Fleet Management facility located on Chicago’s north side. (ULI/Nathan Weber)

Teams from Carnegie Mellon University, Université Laval in Quebec, the University of Maryland, and the University of Texas at Austin have been selected as the four finalists for the 15th annual ULI Hines Student Competition, an ideas competition that provides students the opportunity to devise a comprehensive design and development scheme for an actual large-scale site in an urban area. The four teams are advancing to the final round of the competition in April, where they will compete for a $50,000 first-place prize.

The 2017 competition is based on a hypothetical situation related to last year’s actual announcement by Mayor Rahm Emanuel that the Chicago Department of Fleet and Facility Management will be relocating its headquarters from the site near Goose Island. The competition’s challenge for students involves taking on the role of a master developer to create a successful bid for building a mixed-use sustainable area that benefits from adjacent synergies in the vacant property near Goose Island. The teams were tasked with evaluating the benefits and financial possibilities of buying the Fleet Management and Facility site, and potentially combining it with certain parcels to redevelop or sell as one comprehensive development site.

The finalist teams and development schemes are:

Carnegie Mellon: The IN-district” preserves and celebrates the historic context of the Chicago North Branch area through a revitalization into a new center for culture, innovation, and industry. By connecting heavy and light industries, maker and innovation startups, education, and public amenities, this project reinforces employment opportunities, as well as growth of a new vibrant community.

Université LavalThe Assembly Line is as much a meeting place between neighborhoods as it is a high-efficiency manufacturing district with a 21st-century twist. This project breaks away from Chicago’s squared landscape to welcome a new multidisciplinary neighborhood.

northworks_170740_presentation-board_1300University of MarylandNorthWorks” uses an inclusive development strategy that connects people and cultures through transportation initiatives, provides the necessary tools for the industrial labor force to adapt to a changing economy, and engages the natural beauty of the previously neglected portion of the Chicago River. Combined, these efforts spur the creation of Chicago’s newest neighborhood.

1200_rootedUniversity of Texas at AustinRooted” was built upon the inherent power of food culture to bring together people of diverse backgrounds in a comfortable and lively space. By developing a center of gravity for food and manufacturing, “Rooted” creates a unique urban experience that ties together past, present, and future.

Five entries received honorable-mention recognition:

  • “Grow Chicago”—Columbia University, for a cogent reuse plan that highlights low-rise development incorporating a feasible economic model of urban farming.
  • ChicagoFit”—Georgia Institute of Technology, for an overall community-driven approach that highlights a cogent affordable proposal.
  • North West Bond”—Georgia Institute of Technology, for an extensive approach to the river development context and the connectivity to the rest of the urban fabric.
  • Tech Yards”—Kansas State University, for a comprehensive approach with a strong transportation vision.
  • “Catharsis”—University of Florida, for a daring approach that goes beyond the site, and a programming framework that incorporates sustainability with dexterity through cogent phasing.

This year, applications were submitted by 118 teams representing nearly 60 universities in the United States and Canada. Hines jury chair Teri Frankiewicz, vice president of community development at Crown Community Development in Naperville, Illinois, cited four factors that made the finalists’ entries stand out. “First, the finalists took entire neighborhoods and created connectivity between them. Each team thought about how the challenge fit within the context of the neighborhoods. Second, they followed through on highlighting the river as the major amenity. Third, they all created an interesting mixed-use environment in which different types of office, retail, recreation, and open space are utilized. Fourth, they were all very thoughtful about the financial ramifications of their designs,” she said. The finalists’ entries incorporated elements to make their schemes “authentically different,” she added.

The competition is designed to simulate an actual urban planning and development scenario. It allows each team of five students 15 days to design and submit a master-plan proposal that includes presentation boards with site plans, renderings, analytical tables, and market-feasible financial data. Embodying the complex nature of an actual urban planning and development scenario, student teams must be multidisciplinary and reflect at least three different built-environment disciplines.

Although the competition is a simulation of an actual urban planning and development scenario, the 2017 Hines Student Competition reflects many real-life urban growth challenges in Chicago. The city has taken a proactive approach, including encouraging corporations to locate downtown and catalyze economic development in some of the city’s struggling inner-city neighborhoods. However, some obstacles remain in connecting downtown and the surrounding neighborhoods, including improving transit efficiencies, adapting to the city’s changing employment base, and improving how new development and redevelopment enhance and fit with adjacent properties.

The competition jury consists of renowned experts from diverse backgrounds in real estate development. Jurors represent a strategic mix of land use professionals, including developers, architects, urban designers, urban planners, investment bankers, and financial analysts. Four of the 12 jurors, including jury chairman Frankiewicz, are Chicago-based professionals who help provide insight into whether proposals take into consideration local cultural, economic, and political issues.

The Hines Student Competition was created with a generous endowment from longtime ULI leader Gerald Hines, founder of the Hines real estate organization. The program is part of an ongoing ULI effort to raise interest among young people in creating better communities and improving urban development patterns, as well as increase awareness among students of the need for interdisciplinary solutions to development and design challenges.

During the last phase of the competition in April, the student finalist teams will have the opportunity to expand their original schemes and provide more detail for their plans. Finalist team members will present their schemes in-person to the competition jury during a public forum in Chicago. A $50,000 prize will be awarded to the winning team, with $5,000 of the total going to the school. Each of the remaining three finalist teams will receive $10,000.