The Urban Land Institute (ULI) has released the short list of finalist teams in the 12th annual ULI Gerald D. Hines Student Urban Design Competition. The four graduate-level student teams – representing Georgia Tech University, Harvard University, University of Maryland, and the University of Texas, Austin – will advance to the final round of competition in April.
This year’s competition tasked multidisciplinary student teams with the opportunity to propose a development vision for Nashville’s Sulphur Dell, which was required to be comprehensively designed and operated with all the elements necessary to promote healthy living for its residents. The ideas competition is designed to simulate an actual urban design and development scenario, with certain details changed for the purposes of the competition. In April, a $50,000 prize will be awarded to the winning team; and each of the remaining three finalist teams will receive $10,000. This year, 163 teams comprising 815 students from 72 universities in the United States and Canada participated in the first round of competition.
The competition is based on a hypothetical situation in which the site owners, working together as the Sulphur Dell Development Corporation, have asked for a proposal that transforms the historic Sulphur Dell neighborhood. The owner’s request is made with an understanding of the market and nonmarket factors at play in building healthy places and of the value proposition of building and operating in ways that promote health. In addition to the guidelines stipulated by the site owners, it was requested that all proposals be conscious of other stakeholders since there are a number of either historic or new developments that are not intended to be redeveloped in the surrounding area. Student teams were challenged to best determine how to integrate those existing sites, while exploiting their assets in order to create more value for their proposed site.
While based on a hypothetical situation, the 2014 Hines competition addresses the city’s desire to redevelop the broader Sulphur Dell area so that it attracts investment and generates value for individual property owners, city residents, and the greater region. In the 2007 Downtown Community Plan, the Sulphur Dell downtown neighborhood was identified as a location envisioned as a mixed-use area that will include residential, office and commercial use. Currently there are plans to construct a new ballpark for the Nashville Sounds minor-league and AAA baseball team on the former site. This site has also been victim to several natural disasters, most recently the May 2010 flood that caused severe damage to downtown Nashville. In addition, Sulphur Dell has been the site of recurrent floods, with the former stadium being notorious for flooding even during less extreme weather events.
The development schemes from the finalist teams are:
Georgia Tech University: “Uptown Nashville” seeks to rebuild the current district identity to create a new and improved Sulphur Dell District. With the stadium development and other existing and proposed amenities acting as a catalyst, Uptown Nashville intends to leverage existing and future amenities to foster the creation of a healthy, diverse, and profitable community.
Harvard University: The “Sulphur Dell Market District” is a healthy lifestyle community that catalyzes the revitalization of the city of Nashville and is prototypical of resilient urbanism for cities of a similar size. The proposal is based on a landscape framework of layered strategies of ecology, mobility and food, along with creating the conditions for a diverse and resilient urban district that will continue to change and mature over time.
University of Maryland: The “Chords” development proposes a partnership between the existing private owners and the State of Tennessee. The design captures the experiences of a diverse group of people that are brought together by regional connectors, culture, living and fitness “strings.”
University of Texas, Austin: “Greenheart Village” establishes a new model of urban living, initiating the rebranding of Nashville as an active, healthy, and engaged community. Greenheart Village utilizes adaptive infrastructure to respond to environmental, social, and economic changes, fostering an environment that encourages adaptation as people engage their local surroundings and a changing world.
According to Jury Chairman Bart Harvey, board member of Fannie Mae in Washington, D.C., many of the submissions’ themes were around resilience, healthy living, improved use of the existing bike and pedestrian path, opening up the river and creating a sense of place around the new baseball ballpark. This year’s entries paid special attention to defining the area by respecting the existing area assets and building off them in order to attract and create a new mixed-use neighborhood.
“This year’s finalists found creative but financially feasible ways of building off the area’s strengths while attending to the concerns of flood resilience and healthy living,” said Harvey. “This group stood apart from other submissions in how they better understood the trends and connections to the surrounding areas along with both the strengths and limits of the marketplace. It is an assignment that renews your faith in the emerging development community.”
The competition jury consists of renowned experts in urban planning, design and development. In addition to Jury Chairman Bart Harvey, other jury members are: Brian D. Berry, president, Oak Point Investors, McLean, Va.; Tom Gibson, senior vice president and partner, Nashville, Tenn.; James W. Granbery, chief executive officer, H.G. Hill Realty Company, Nashville, Tenn.; Anyeley Hallova, partner, Project ^, Portland, Ore., Marty Heflin, founder and managing partner, Range Light Partners, Nashville, Tenn.; Mike Horst, senior vice president, ULI, Washington, D.C.; Todd Mead, principal, Civitas, Denver, Colo.; Alexander Nyhan, development manager, Forest City, Washington, D.C.; Phil Ryan, affiliate broker, Cherry & Associates, Nashville, Tenn.; Gaurav Srivastava, associate principal, AECOM, Los Angeles, Calif.; Halina Steiner, Dlandstudio, Brooklyn, N.Y.; Pablo Vaggione, director, Design Convergence, Madrid, Spain; and Barbara Wilks, partner, W Architecture and Landscape Architecture, New York, N.Y.
Eleven teams were also selected for honorable mention. The jury commended Ohio State University with “The Agora for its exploration of a bold move to add waterfront value; the University of Pennsylvania with “Nesting Music” for its vision of a music theme; a joint University of California, Berkeley/University of Georgia team with “Geo-Connector” for its creative approach to food opportunities; the University of Pennsylvania with “The Basins” for its landscape approach; a joint Harvard University/Columbia University team with “Sulphur Dell Revival Corridor” for its waterfront and corridor approach; the University of Michigan with “Flood Harvest” for its water catchment storage and flood mitigation strategy; a joint Kent State University/Cleveland State University/Case Western Reserve University team with “Echosystem” for a its financial plan; the Université Laval with “ecotone” for placemaking; the University of Texas with “The Dell Flex” for its diagrammatic analysis and flood strategies; the University of Miami with “Infields” for its urban agriculture and farming strategies; and Kent State University/Case Western Reserve University with “Second Nature” for its creative development of a financial scenario.
The Hines competition strives 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 at universities in the United States and Canada, including programs in real estate development, urban planning, urban design, architecture and landscape architecture.
In the final phase of the 2014 competition, which concludes on April 3, each of the final four teams will be given the opportunity to expand their original schemes and respond in more detail. Next month, one representative from each finalist team will visit Sulphur Dell, all expenses paid, and will have the opportunity to tour the site and refine their presentations. On April 2-3, finalist team members will present their schemes to the competition jury during a public forum in Nashville. The event will culminate with the announcement of the winning team. The competition is designed as an exercise; there is no intention that the students’ plans will be implemented as part of any development of the site.
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