A team of students representing North Carolina State University and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC) won the $50,000 top prize in the 2010 Urban Land Institute Gerald D. Hines Student Urban Design Competition with a redevelopment plan for a San Diego neighborhood that emphasizes neighborhood diversity, affordability to families of mixed incomes, and walkability.

Nearly 660 students making up 132 teams from 48 universities in the United States and Canada were among those in the 2010 competition who were challenged to create a design and development proposal for a 73.5-acre (29.7-ha) site in East Village in downtown San Diego. East Village, one of eight neighborhoods in the city’s downtown area, spans a total of 1,450 acres (587 ha) bounded by Interstate 5 and the San Diego Bay. The teams had to develop a transformative vision for East Village, incorporating the highest and best sustainable use, new economic development activities, and evidence of market support for their development activities—all fused with financial justification for their design decisions.

The winning proposal from N.C. State–UNC, called “Family-Oriented Development/F.O.D.,” homes in on the concept of the family as the central component necessary for catalytic redevelopment of East Village. Designed to accommodate the diverse needs of families of all sizes, ages, and economic levels, the sustainable plan incorporates many critical family-friendly elements, such as community space, connectivity, public arts, and job incubation.

The N.C. State–UNC team members were Maria Papiez, Daria Khramtsova, Rebecca Myers, Jeff Pleshek, and Matt Tomasulo. The team was advised by Robin Fran Abrams. “We’ve gained a huge amount from working as a team and haven’t had any other such opportunity to collaborate with other disciplines,” said Papiez, team leader. “We’re inspired to continue to work this way.”

Based on a hypothetical situation, the 2010 Hines student urban design competition addressed the city’s attempts since 1975 to revive its downtown through efforts by San Diego’s Centre City Development Corporation (CCDC). The teams were encouraged to respond to the city’s goals of tripling the current residential capacity to 90,000 and doubling the downtown workforce to 165,000. While the CCDC’s redevelopment efforts have revived other downtown neighborhoods, the competition focused on East Village because the area has remained largely bypassed by those city initiatives. The challenge posed to the students was to devise a scheme that incorporated achievement of highest and best sustainable use, generation of new economic activity, and inclusion of a catalytic component to give East Village an identity and trigger broader redevelopment throughout the neighborhood.

“The jury felt like the winning scheme was comprehensive in its solution and understood all the elements necessary to make things not just real, but great,” explained jury cochair Bert Gregory, president and chief executive of Mithun in Seattle. “Cities all across the U.S. face the issue of accommodating families with children in denser neighborhoods, and it’s one we need to address. This team took it on in a very brave solution.”

“The entries created a strong sense of place and showed the ability to transform an idea, while figuring out how to lay out an idea that could actually be built with financial strength and feasibility,” commented jury cochairman Lizanne Galbreath, managing partner, Galbreath & Company in Norwalk, Connecticut. “The winning team and the other finalists all had a sense of contextual orientation, how to properly fit it into the greater area of San Diego, and a strong central theme that tied into all the blocks and neighborhoods around them,” she added.

“Through this competition, we are raising awareness among the students of the key role that high-quality urban design plays in creating sustainable living environments,” said real estate developer Gerald D. Hines, chairman and owner of the Hines real estate organization in Dallas. “Real estate development is a very exciting, imaginative field. It involves many disciplines and interaction with so many parts of our world.”