A redevelopment plan for a Miami site presented by a team comprising students from Columbia University and Pratt Institute has taken top honors in the 2020 ULI/Gerald D. Hines Student Urban Design Competition. The ideas contest provides graduate students with the opportunity to devise a comprehensive design and development scheme for a large-scale site in an urban area. Members of the winning team were awarded a prize of $50,000 at the conclusion of the competition on April 7. The remaining three finalist teams, with representatives from the University of Cincinnati, Cornell University, Columbia University, and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, each will receive $10,000.

While the competition normally takes place on site, this year the competition pivoted to a two-day virtual experience and the students rose to the challenge. On the first day, the students rehearsed their plans in front of seven experts and ULI members in Southeast Florida, and the following day they presented their plans virtually to a 12-person jury of ULI members from around the United States.

This year’s competition involved an area in midtown Miami, split between the Wynwood and Edgewater neighborhoods. The Florida East Coast Railway bisects the study area, where students evaluated the potential to create a thriving, mixed-use neighborhood around a commuter train station, while considering issues of housing affordability, sustainability, and resilience in their proposals.

The four teams that advanced to the final round of the competition were chosen from 113 teams with students from 42 sponsoring universities and 56 campuses, including 21 multicampus teams, in North America and beyond.

“On behalf of ULI, I want to congratulate the winners and finalists of the 2020 ULI Hines Competition,” said ULI Global CEO W. Edward Walter. “I commend them for the creativity and hard work that got them to the final stage of this competition. I also want to thank our jury members, who have devoted countless hours of their own time to reviewing and debating the proposals put before them. We welcome all of the competitors to ULI’s network of problem solvers and thought leaders, and I can’t wait to see their impact on the built environment of the future.”

The winning plan from Columbia University and Pratt Institute, “La Mezcla,” is designed around three pillars: ecology, community, and economy. This mixed-use development proposal creates an environmentally sustainable community that remains relevant through ensuing climate change. The development seeks to bring together the socioeconomic diversity that exists between Wynwood and Edgewater despite the physical and perceived barrier on the site.

The La Mezcla team was composed of Duane Martinez, master of city and regional planning, Pratt Institute; Jonathan Hong, master of real estate development candidate, Columbia University; Matea Kulusic, master of real estate development candidate, Columbia University; Matthew Mitchell, master of architecture candidate, Pratt Institute; and Pavel Petrov, master of real estate development candidate, Columbia University.

“Our team agrees that the ULI Hines Competition was one of the single most challenging endeavors of our graduate experience, both from a development and design perspective,” said Hong. “We embodied the spirit of La Mezcla as we were able to leverage our diverse backgrounds, prior professional experience, and unique perspectives in pursuit of a common goal. We were excited to present a strong united vision that was centered around the three pillars of community, ecology, and economy. This helped us to set the framework that we could all stand behind and be proud of, and we look forward to building on our competition experience in our careers to come.”

“The 2020 finalists raised the level of creative thinking and technical execution delivered in the competition,” said ULI Hines Jury Chair, ULI Trustee, and ULI Foundation Governor Richard M. Gollis. “This was one of the most complicated study areas that Hines competitors have ever had to work with. It required a solution that covered millions of square feet of potential development, realities of South Florida resiliency, social equity for stakeholder communities, and significant regional transit connectivity. However, each of the finalists rose to the challenge and delivered compelling visions of the site’s redesign. La Mezcla stood out because it embraced the spirit of the Wynwood/Edgewater neighborhood. They created a plan with a strong urban design vision, sound technical strategies, and a compelling financial plan,” said Gollis, who is also cofounder and principal of the Concord Group, based in Newport Beach, California.

The ULI Hines Student Competition was created with a generous endowment from longtime ULI leader Gerald D. Hines, founder of the Hines real estate organization. “We look forward to this competition every year and seeing these bright young people come forth with outstanding ideas and projects to improve our cities,” Hines said. “The interdisciplinary approach and the tight deadlines give aspiring students a glimpse into what the real estate business is actually like. They are the future of the built environment.”

The finalist teams and development plans were:

•            Cubikko from Cornell University and Columbia University (contestants Jing Cheng, Lijia Zhu, Oscar Portillo, and Yu Wu from Cornell University with Guangwei Ren from Columbia University);

•            the LIFELINE from the University of Cincinnati (contestants Caroline Errico, Christian Umbach, Robert Peebles, Stacy Felchner, and Todd Funkhouser); and

•            Rock Ridge from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (contestants Carl Hedman, Drew Morrison, Kecheng Huang, Kristopher Steele, and Stephanie Peña).

The competition jury consisted of renowned experts representing a strategic mix of land use professionals, including developers, architects, urban designers, urban planners, investment bankers, and financial analysts. In addition to jury chairman Gollis, members of the jury are: Kim Abreu, senior vice president, Bank of America Merrill Lynch, Coral Gables, Florida; Jorge Garcia, chief executive officer, Garcia Stromberg (GS4 Studios), West Palm Beach, Florida; Suzette Goldstein, director of planning, HOK, Washington, D.C.; Jose Gonzalez, executive vice president, business development, Florida East Coast Industries Inc., Miami; Dave Howerton, chairman, Hart Howerton, San Francisco, California; Manisha Kaul, associate, Design Workshop, Chicago; Ellen Lou, director of urban design and planning, Skidmore, Owings & Merrill LLP, San Francisco; Jenni Morejon, president and chief executive officer, Fort Lauderdale Downtown Development Authority, Fort Lauderdale, Florida; Stephen P. Navarro, president and chief executive officer, the Furman Co. Inc., Greenville, South Carolina; Brad Power, community development director, City of Englewood, Colorado; and Diana Reid, real estate banking executive, Pittsburgh. The rehearsal jury, which helped the finalists flesh out their presentation the day before the finale, can be found here.

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. The competition is strategically structured to encourage cooperation and teamwork—necessary talents in the planning, design, and development of sustainable communities—among future land use professionals and allied professions, such as architecture, landscape architecture, urban planning, historic preservation, engineering, real estate development, finance, psychology, and law. It is open to graduate students who are pursuing real estate–related studies, including programs in real estate development, urban planning, urban design, architecture, and landscape architecture.

Since its creation in 2002, the ULI Hines Student Competition has been offered in North America. Now with Hines sponsorship, ULI has launched a related program in Europe. Students from universities across Europe were tested on their understanding of the core components of real estate; finance, investment, and development; as well as social and environmental issues that affect decisions regarding land use and sustainable retail. The nine finalists feature students from the University of Cambridge, Technical University Dublin, London Business School, Polytechnic University of Milan, INSEAD graduate business school, and the Technical University of Madrid.