(ULI Cincinnati/Spot On Productions)

An area in Cincinnati comprising portions of a highway, the central business district, and the central riverfront along the Ohio River has been selected as the study site for the ULI 17th annual ULI Hines Student Competition. Though based on a hypothetical situation, the ideas competition provides both full- and part-time graduate-level students the opportunity to devise a comprehensive design and development program for an actual large-scale urban site.

The competition, which began January 14, is designed to simulate an actual design, planning, and development scenario, and reflects Cincinnati’s vision for connecting the central riverfront entertainment district. Participants were tasked with evaluating the potential to deck the highway and combine it with adjacent parcels, with the ultimate goal of integrating both areas to create a vibrant, pedestrian-oriented, sustainable, and mixed-use neighborhood. The team with the winning proposal will receive $50,000, and the winner will be selected in April by a jury of leading ULI members representing a broad variety of real estate disciplines.

This year, 100 teams representing 43 universities in the United States and Canada registered to compete in the Hines Competition, including 21 teams with students from more than one university, and seven teams with students in more than one state. The competition is structured to encourage 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 across 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 Hines Student Competition to Cincinnati,” says Paul Bernard, executive vice president of the Institute’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, as well as the future of our cities, while also providing an informative look at how the next generation of land use professionals will be collaborating to build cities. We look forward to seeing what the contestants come up with this year.”

The competition allows 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) development schedule and finances. Participants receive project briefing materials, including a comprehensive statement of the challenge, background information on the site, market information, relevant existing design proposals, and site maps and photos. The competition is designed as an exercise; there is no expectation that the students’ plans will be implemented.

Four finalist teams will be selected by the Hines jury by late February. During the final phase of the competition in March, the finalist teams will have the opportunity to expand their original schemes and provide more detail following a site tour (expenses are paid for one member per team). During the competition finale April 3–4, the teams will present their schemes twice: first to a panel of local real estate experts, and then to the Hines Competition jury during a public forum in Cincinnati. Of the $50,000 awarded to the winning team, $5,000 goes to the university the team represents. Each of the remaining three finalist teams will receive $10,000.

(ULI Cincinnati/Spot On Productions)

The competition is funded through an endowment from Gerald D. Hines, chairman and founder of the global Hines 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 was held in 2003, more than 8,600 students have participated.

A brief video about the competition is available here. For more information on the ULI Hines Student Competition, visit uli.org/hines.