An area in Midtown Miami, split between the Wynwood and Edgewater neighborhoods, will be the study site for the 18th annual ULI Hines Student Competition. This education initiative, open to graduate-level students, is an exercise to encourage innovative ideas and cross-disciplinary collaboration and gives students with an opportunity to devise a comprehensive design and development program for an actual large-scale urban site.

This year, 124 teams representing 56 universities in the United States and Canada registered to compete, including 23 teams with students from more than one university and eight teams with students in more than one state or province. The team with the winning proposal will receive $50,000, of which $5,000 goes to the university or universities the team represents. Each of the remaining three finalist teams will receive $10,000.

The competition, which opened January 13, simulates an actual design, planning, and development scenario, and reflects Miami’s vision to reduce congestion and become more resilient by encouraging walkable neighborhoods around transit nodes. The Florida East Coast Railway bisects the study area, where students will evaluate the potential to create a thriving, mixed-use neighborhood around a commuter train station. The competition asks students to consider issues of housing affordability, sustainability, and resilience in their proposals.

The Florida East Coast Railway bisects the study area, where students will evaluate the potential to create a thriving, mixed-use neighborhood around a commuter train station. The competition asks students to consider issues of housing affordability, sustainability, and resilience in their proposals.

A jury of ULI members who are experts in real estate, land use, and design will select four finalist teams by late February. During the final phase of the competition, these four teams will expand their original proposals following a site tour by one team member. At the competition finale in Miami, the teams will present their proposal twice: first to a panel of local experts, and then to the jury during a public forum in April.

The competition encourages cooperation and teamwork—necessary talents in the planning, design, and development of sustainable communities. Teams must be multidisciplinary and include students pursuing at least three different degree programs in at least three different disciplines. This mix typically includes graduate students who are pursuing programs in real estate development, architecture, landscape architecture, urban planning, urban design, finance, historic preservation, engineering, and law.

“We are very excited to bring this year’s ULI Hines Student Competition to Miami,” said Paul Bernard, executive vice president of ULI’s Advisory Services program. “This competition is part of an ongoing ULI effort to raise awareness among young people about the very real impact that land use and urban development have on people’s lives, while also providing an informative look at how the next generation of land use professionals is thinking about the future of cities. We look forward to seeing what the contestants will come up with this year.”

The competition gives each team of five students 15 days to create proposals that illustrate innovative approaches to five general elements: 1) planning context and analysis, 2) a master land use plan, 3) urban design, 4) site-specific illustrations of new development, and 5) a development schedule and finances. Participants have received project briefing materials, including a comprehensive statement of the challenge, background information on the site, market information, existing design proposals, and site maps and photos. There is no expectation that the locality will implement the teams’ plans.

The competition is funded through an endowment from Gerald D. Hines, chairman and founder of the Hines global real estate organization and a recipient of the ULI J.C. Nichols Prize for Visionaries in Urban Development. A legend in the real estate industry, Hines is widely known as a leader who pioneered the use of high-quality planning and architecture as a marketable feature of development in office, residential, and mixed-use projects. Since the first Hines competition in 2003, more than 9,160 students on over 1,830 teams have participated.

For more information on the ULI Hines Student Competition, visit uli.org/hines.