A team from Politecnico di Milano has been revealed as the inaugural winners of a pan-European virtual real estate competition for university students and will receive a one-year ULI membership and fast track to Hines’s internship program.

Four students from Politecnico di Milano have emerged victorious in the final round of a pan-European virtual real estate competition, established by the Urban Land Institute (ULI) and Hines, the international real estate firm, which challenged teams to prepare a plan for a redevelopment of a fictional city center location. The final of the ULI Hines Student Competition – Europe took place on Thursday, June 18, and the winners will each receive a one-year ULI membership and fast-track to Hines’s internship program.

Danilo Chiesa, Adam Houchaimi, Livia di Maria, and Edoardo Maria Cici, from Politecnico di Milano, fended off stiff competition from eight other teams from higher-education establishments across Europe, including the University of Cambridge, Technological University Dublin, London Business School, Polytechnic University of Milan, INSEAD graduate business school, and the Technical University of Madrid.

Team captain Danilo Chiesa said: “We are delighted to be crowned the winners of this inaugural competition, which has certainly put us through our paces! The final was a very challenging day and tested our communication skills as a team, our ability to work remotely with all the team members, as well as our ability to creatively design a suggested solution to the case study that we were presented with. It was a little nerve-wracking to be presenting to such senior leaders of the real estate industry, but I’m really proud of our team’s efforts and we’ve felt well supported throughout the day.”

Danilo Chiesa (captain of Politecnico di Milano’s team, M4) presenting his team’s plan to the jury members.

The final consisted of a whole day of virtual sessions using a video conferencing platform, including a briefing in the morning followed by each of the nine teams working together in groups of four using virtual “breakout rooms,” with the support of a volunteer mentor from ULI’s Young Leaders and NEXT networks. The teams were asked to prepare a plan for the case study, based on a fictional location called “Cathedral City,” which looked at how the city center could shift from retail toward community-led mixed-use development—an interesting and timely challenge.

The finalists were asked to present their plans to a high-powered jury consisting of senior industry professionals, including Brian Moran (chair), head of Hines Ireland; Lars Huber, CEO of Hines Europe; Lisette van Doorn, CEO of ULI Europe; Sir Stuart Lipton, Lipton Rogers Development; Hala El Akl, director of PLP Architecture; Ed Siskind, CEO of Cale Street Partners; and Sabine Lebesque, City of Amsterdam Development Corporation.

Lars Huber, CEO of Hines Europe, said: “We are very proud to support this competition, which has revealed some incredible talent that we look forward to seeing work in the real estate industry. Special congratulations to the winning team, but I think everybody who took part today can be very pleased with their performance as we’ve seen some very innovation solutions and fresh new ideas on how to rise to the challenges that our industry faces at this present time.”

Lisette van Doorn, CEO of ULI Europe, said: “Creating and sustaining thriving communities is at the heart of what ULI stands for and it is especially important that we attract and retain the best talent to our industry to support us in our mission. This competition is a perfect example of everything ULI stands for, with a multi-disciplinary, multi-generational collaboration focused on thought leadership, learning, and sharing best practices. Seeing the enthusiasm and motivation from the competing students has been fantastic and we hope they will stay involved with ULI when developing their careers, leveraging our content and global network. And hopefully at some point they will be as committed as our jury to give back to younger generations.”

Following the success of this year’s competition, plans are underway for developing the next iteration. For further information, please visit: https://europe.uli.org/ulihinesstudentcompetition.


The winning team from Politecnico di Milano with jury members Lisette van Doorn, Lars Huber, and Brian Moran.