Team from North Carolina State University and University of North Carolina Wins Top Prize in 2010 ULI Gerald D. Hines Student Urban Design Competition

Makeover Scheme for San Diego Neighborhood Emphasizes Walkability, Connectivity

A team of students representing North Carolina State University and the University of North Carolina—Chapel Hill has won the $50,000 top prize in the 2010 Urban Land Institute (ULI) Gerald D. Hines Student Urban Design Competition with a redevelopment plan for a San Diego neighborhood that emphasizes neighborhood diversity, affordability to families of mixed incomes, and walkability.

The NC State-UNC

team bested teams from Harvard University, the University of Maryland, and the University of Pennsylvania in the final round of the competition, which was held April 8 in San Diego. The three finalist teams split $30,000 in prize funds.

The ULI Gerald D. Hines Student Urban Design Competition was created in 2003 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.

Nearly 660 students comprising 132 teams from 48 universities in the U.S. and Canada applied to compete in the 2010 competition. They were challenged to create a design and development proposal for a 73.5 acre site in East Village in downtown San Diego. East Village, one of eight distinct neighborhoods in the city’s downtown area, spans a total area of 1,450 acres bound by Interstate 5 and the San Diego Bay. Students were asked to develop a transformative vision for East Village and incorporate the highest and best sustainable use, new economic development activities, and evidence of market support for their development activities – all fused with financial justification for their design decisions.

The winning proposal from NC State-UNC, called “Family Oriented Development/F.O.D.,” hones in on the concept of the family as the central component necessary for catalytic redevelopment of East Village. Designed to accommodate the diverse needs of families of all sizes, ages, and economic levels, the sustainable plan incorporates many critical family-friendly elements, such as community space, connectivity, public arts, and job incubation. NC State-UNC team members included Maria Papiez (MArch, NCS), Daria Khramtsova (MCP, UNC), Rebecca Myers (MLA, NCS), Jeff Pleshek (MArch, NCS), and Matt Tomasulo (MLA, NCS).

The team was advised by Robin Fran Abrams.

“ULI and Gerald Hines provided us with a great opportunity. We’ve gained a huge amount from working as a team and haven’t had any other such opportunity to collaborate with other disciplines. We’re inspired to continue to work this way,” said team leader Maria Papiez.

While based on a hypothetical situation, the 2010 Hines competition addressed the city’s attempts since 1975 to revive its downtown through efforts by San Diego’s Centre City Development Corporation (CCDC). The competition encouraged students to respond to the city’s goals of tripling the current residential capacity to 90,000 and doubling the downtown workforce to 165,000.

The competition focused on East Village because while CCDC’s redevelopment efforts have revived other downtown neighborhoods, East Village has remained largely bypassed. The challenge posed to the students was to devise a scheme that incorporates the achievement of highest and best sustainable use, the generation of new economic activity, and the inclusion of a catalytic component to give East Village an identity and trigger broader redevelopment throughout the neighborhood.

“The jury felt like the winning scheme was comprehensive in its solution and understood all the elements necessary to make things not just real, but great,” said Jury Co-Chairman Bert Gregory, FAIA, LEED-AP, and president and chief executive officer of Mithun in Seattle. “Cities all across the U.S. face the issue of accommodating families with children in denser neighborhoods and it’s one we need to address. This team took it on in a very brave solution.”

World-renowned real estate developer Gerald D. Hines, chairman and owner of the Hines real estate organization, has funded the competition in perpetuity through a $3 million endowment . “Through this competition, we are raising awareness among the students of the key role high-quality urban design plays in creating sustainable living environments,” Hines commented. “Real estate development is a very exciting, imaginative field. It involves many disciplines and interaction with so many parts of our world—finance, politics, science, and psychology—it affects the lives of so many people.”

The development schemes from the runners-up were:

Harvard University:

“Celebration of Art” proposes an art-centric, multi-generational, European-scaled, sustainable development on the site of a former warehouse district. The project seeks to create over 1,500 jobs while attracting people to live, shop, and work in East Village.

The design is unified by a central park and subdivided by four art-themed sub districts, each with its own art-themed pocket park.

Team members included Macy Man-Sai Leung, Ignacio Correa, Fai Au, Xue Zhou, and Shane Campbell.

The team was advised by Richard Peiser and Brian Canin.

University of Pennsylvania:

“La Moda Fresca” aims to reposition East Village as a new center for fresh food and fresh ideas.

With a central promenade, Eat Street, as the focal point of the district’s district, the neighborhood is with a variety of restaurants, public markets, food carts, and test kitchens.

The neighborhood’s identity is anchored by a culinary academy and museum. Team members included Lou Huang, Marie Park, Allen Penniman, Keyleigh Kern, and Brian Lee.

The team was advised by Michael Larice.

University of Maryland – College Park:

“East Village: The Garden District” strategically utilizes open space to create a greenway that connects Balboa Park with the San Diego Bay waterfront.

The plan’s overall aims are to refine the neighborhood’s identity through the promotion of the arts and education; increase the economic vitality of East Village to the downtown; transform Broadway into a major gateway to the San Diego Bay waterfront; create a memorable college town and affordable housing for the growing community; and promote stewardship by incorporating sustainable landscape urbanism. Team members included Lin Mao, Brian H. Brodeur, Kameron Aroom, and Timothy Martin Phillips.

The team was advised by Matthew Bell.

“The entries created a strong sense of place and showed the ability to transform an idea, while figuring out how to lay out an idea that could actually be built with financial strength and feasibility,” said Jury Co-Chairman Lizanne Galbreath, managing partner, Galbreath & Company, Norwalk, Conn.

“The winning team and the other finalists all had a sense of contextual orientation, how to properly fit it into the greater area of San Diego, and a strong central theme that tied into all the blocks and neighborhoods around them.”

In addition to Jury Co-Chairs Gregory and Galbreath, other jury members included Helen Hatch, FAIA, principal and vice president, client relations, Thompson, Ventulett, Stainback & Associates, Inc., Atlanta; Jim Heid, founder, UrbanGreen, San Francisco; Jeffrey D. Kune, managing partner, DMG Capital Realty Advisors, West Palm Beach, Fla.; Neal Payton, AIA, LEED AP, senior principal, Torti Gallas & Partners, Los Angeles; Kevin Shanley, FASLA, chief executive officer, SWA Group, Houston; and John M. Walsh III, President, TIG Real Estate Services, Inc., Dallas, Tex. Local financial advisers to the jury were Evan E. Becker, managing director, RED Capital Group, San Diego and Tony Pauker, vice president of development, City Ventures, San Diego.

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.

For more information on the ULI Gerald D. Hines Student Urban Design Competition, visit

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 nearly 33,000 members representing all aspects of land use and development disciplines.