Team from University of Texas at Austin Wins 2017 ULI Hines Student Competition with Plan to Redevelop Chicago Site; Receives $50,000 in Prize Funds


Texas Team Tops University of Maryland, Carnegie Mellon, and Université Laval

CHICAGO (April 7, 2017) – (RealEstateRama) — A redevelopment plan for a Chicago site presented by a team from the University of Texas at Austin has taken top honors in the 2017 Urban Land Institute (ULI) Hines Student Competition, an ideas competition that provides graduate students the opportunity to devise a comprehensive design and development scheme for a large-scale site in an urban area. Members of the team were awarded a first-place prize of $50,000 after the conclusion of the competition on April 6. The three remaining finalist teams, from Carnegie Mellon University, the University of Maryland, and the Université Laval in Quebec, each were awarded $10,000.

The 2017 competition was based on a hypothetical situation related to last year’s announcement by Mayor Rahm Emanuel that the Chicago Department of Fleet and Facility Management would be relocating its headquarters from the site adjacent to the North Branch of the Chicago River. The competition’s challenge for students involved taking on the role of a master developer to create a successful bid for building a mixed-use sustainable area that benefits from adjacent synergies in the vacant property. The teams were tasked with evaluating the benefits and financial possibilities of buying the Fleet Management and Facility site, and potentially combining it with certain parcels to redevelop or sell as one comprehensive development site.

The Texas team’s winning proposal, Rooted, is built upon the inherent power of food culture to bring together people of diverse backgrounds in a comfortable and lively space. It recognizes that Chicago has long served as the heartland for food production, processing and distribution due to its prime location and role as the gateway to the East and West. Through creation of a center for food and manufacturing, a unique urban experience materializes, tying together past, present and future. The proposal not only reimagines the localization of the food supply chain, but also creates an equitable and inclusive environment conducive to building human capital.

Competition Jury Chair and ULI leader Teri Frankiewicz, vice president of community development at Crown Community Development in Naperville, Illinois, noted that each of the teams’ proposals reflected a highly thoughtful, innovative approach to urban planning, design and development. The plan from the University of Texas at Austin stood out, she said, because it demonstrated the best grasp of economic, demographic, environmental and social factors that are shaping development in Chicago. “The Texas team members not only understood the geographic constraints and benefits of the competition site, they conducted an extraordinary amount of market research about all land use types, and were well-informed about issues of high importance in the city such as affordable housing,” Frankiewicz said. “When we questioned their assumptions regarding pricing and absorption, they were able to defend them beautifully.” She pointed to the proposal’s emphasis on detail (such as the relocation of an existing transit station and inclusion of a green-roofed Home Depot), its realistic capital stack, and the team’s persuasive delivery as making the University of Texas at Austin a compelling choice.

The winning team consisted of Christopher Perkes (team leader), joint master of science in community and regional planning/master of science in sustainable design; Luke Kvasnicka, master of architecture; Miles Payton, master of landscape architecture; Mason Rathe, master of business administration; Kirsten Stray-Gundersen, master of architecture; and academic advisers Simon Atkinson, professor of community and regional planning, and Edna Ledesma, lecturer, school of architecture.

Each year, the competition is designed to simulate an actual urban planning and development scenario. It allows the teams 15 days to design and submit a master plan proposal that includes presentation boards with site plans, renderings, analytical tables, and market-feasible financial data. Embodying the complex nature of an actual urban planning and development scenario, student teams must be multidisciplinary and reflect at least three different built environment disciplines. This year, applications were submitted by 118 teams representing nearly 60 universities in the United States and Canada.

The three finalist teams and development schemes:

  • Carnegie Mellon:The IN-district preserves and celebrates the historic context of the Chicago North Branch area through a revitalization into a new center for culture, innovation, and industry. By connecting heavy and light industries, maker and innovation startups, education, and public amenities, “The IN-district” reinforces employment opportunities, as well as growth of a new vibrant community.
  • Université Laval:The Assembly Lineis as much a meeting place between neighborhoods as it is a high-efficiency manufacturing district with a 21st century twist. This project breaks away from Chicago’s squared landscape to welcome a new multi-disciplinary neighborhood.
  • University of Maryland: NorthWorksuses an inclusive development strategy that connects people and cultures through transportation initiatives, provides the necessary tools for the industrial labor force to adapt to a changing economy, and engages the natural beauty of the previously neglected portion of the Chicago River. Combined, these efforts spur the creation of Chicago’s newest neighborhood.

The competition jury consisted of renowned experts from diverse backgrounds in real estate development. Jurors represented a strategic mix of land use professionals, including developers, architects, urban designers, urban planners, investment bankers and financial analysts.  Four of the 12 jurors, including Jury Chairman Frankiewicz, are Chicago-based professionals who helped provide insight into whether proposals take into consideration local cultural, economic and political issues.

In addition to Frankiewicz, other members of the jury were: Jo Ann Chitty, senior vice president, Selig Enterprises, Inc., Atlanta, Georgia; Aruna Doddapaneni, director of development, BRIDGE Housing, San Diego, California; Raymond Hartshorne, partner, Hartshorne Plunkard Architecture, Chicago, Illinois; Nila R. Leiserowitz, regional managing principal, Gensler, Chicago, Illinois; Betsy del Monte, principal, Transform Global, Dallas, Texas; Rameez Munawar, financial analyst, Eastern Region of Columbia Property Trust, Washington, D.C.; Jon Pickard, principal, Pickard Chilton, New Haven, Connecticut; Michael Pitchford, president and CEO, CPDC, Silver Spring, Maryland; Kathryn L. Reynolds, founder and CEO, Vivelan Group, New Orleans, Louisiana; Thomas Samuels, principal, Thomas Samuels Enterprises, Chicago, Illinois and Megan Torza, partner, DTAH, Toronto, Ontario, Canada.

The Hines Student Competition was created with a generous endowment from longtime ULI leader Gerald Hines, founder of the Hines real estate organization. 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 to increase awareness 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 real estate professionals. 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.

NOTE TO REPORTERS AND EDITORS: For more information or interviews related to the ULI Hines Student Competition, contact Trisha Riggs at trisha.riggs (at) uli (dot) org. Additional information on the participating schools and student participation demographics can be found at

About the Urban Land Institute
The Urban Land Institute is a nonprofit education and research institute supported by its members. Its mission is to provide leadership in the responsible use of land and in creating and sustaining thriving communities worldwide. Established in 1936, the institute has more than 40,000 members worldwide representing all aspects of land use and development disciplines. For more information, please visit or follow us on TwitterFacebookLinkedIn, and Instagram.

contact Trisha Riggs at 202-624-7086

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