The Urban Land Institute (ULI) has selected the finalist teams in the eleventh annual ULI Gerald D. Hines Student Urban Design Competition. Graduate-level student teams representing Harvard University, Yale University, a joint team from Ball State University and Purdue University, as well as another join team from Kansas State University, the University of Missouri-Kansas City, and the University of Kansas are all advancing to the final round of competition, scheduled to take place in March and April. This year’s finalists were charged with proposing a long-term development plan for downtown Minneapolis that creates value for property owners, city residents, and the greater Twin Cities region.
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, applications were submitted from 158 teams representing 70 universities in the United States and Canada, with 790 students participating in total.
This year, the widely-recognized ideas competition challenged interdisciplinary student teams to create a practical and workable scheme for a section of Downtown East. The competition is based on a hypothetical scenario in which two property owners have entered into an agreement in which they evaluate the benefits and financial possibilities of combining their parcels. The owners’ properties, largely used as surface parking lots, will be analyzed to determine if the parcels could be redeveloped or sold as one large development site. In the scenario, the city of Minneapolis, eager to see this section of downtown grow into a neighborhood and regional destination, has provided an incentive for these property owners to redevelop, albeit with strings attached: the city would construct a 500-space parking structure and provide $600,000 for public space through tax incentives. As a condition, the city has requested that the new development lease at least 100 of these spaces at a rate of $3,000 per space annually to serve the development for ten years. In addition, the city has asked that the development scheme include affordable housing and begin to connect Downtown East with Elliot Park to the south and Mill District to the north.
While based on a fictional situation, the 2013 Hines competition tackles city and local stakeholders’ desire to reinvent Downtown East as interest builds in anticipation of the new stadium. The competition focuses on a development site located primarily in Downtown East, with parts of the larger study area spilling over into the more developed Downtown West and the lower density historic Elliot Park neighborhood in the south. The area making up Downtown East is officially bound by the Mississippi River to the north, 5th Street to the south, Portland Avenue to the west, and the Interstate to the east. Downtown East is an emerging prospect for new development. In fact, most of downtown Minneapolis’s current residential opportunities lie in Downtown East and many of the historic buildings located in the Mill District section have been restored as high-end loft apartments, restaurants, offices, and museums.
The development schemes from the finalist teams are:
Ball State University/Purdue University: “Portland Avenue” proposes a new pedestrian and bike friendly neighborhood as the solution of breaking away from signature monolithic tall buildings. Using earth as an artist’s canvas on the site with plazas placed along this main street inspires people to interact with and enjoy the district. The title “Portland Ave” re-assigns the role of this primarily vehicular focused street into the main artery of life and activity of the Downtown East.
Harvard University: “Connec+ Minneapolis” strives to rethink the urban fabric of the Downtown East neighborhood. The site is situated in the middle of three major urban attractors: a vibrant downtown to the West, the up-and-coming Mill District to the North, and the new Viking Stadium development to the East. Connec+ Minneapolis creates a link between these three areas by remaking the existing thoroughfares from desolate car corridors into inviting, active and walkable transportation links.
Kansas State University/University of Missouri-Kansas City/University of Kansas: “The Armory” is a development that provides the means to absorb predicted growth in density through an iconic approach. The Armory is a vision for a district that effectively connects the components that make Minneapolis a successful city: parks, bicycling, a unique architectural vernacular, culture, and a strong work ethic.
Yale University: “MinneDi” is borne out Minneapolis’s character as a center for innovation, industry, health consciousness, outdoor recreation, and increasing diversity. At the center of a diverse set of communities comprised of numerous universities, high rises, scattered townhomes, warehouses and a stadium, the new MinneDi is a sustainable, vibrant, and diverse live-work area, premised on four overarching ideas: entrepreneurship, urban living, health and technology focused infrastructure, and connectivity.
According to Jury Chairman Bart Harvey, the jury was impressed with the complexity and lifelike components of this year’s submissions. “Sustainability and walkability were large aspects of all the submissions. However, the centerpiece among the best of the submissions was a creative use of the Armory to connect to the surrounding area,” said Harvey, former chairman and chief executive officer of Enterprise Partners in Baltimore, Md. “There was a close look at what the stadium area needed and how both retail and residential had to interface with a stadium in an event venue. While all the designs displayed terrific design elements, the finalists’ proposals ended up being the ones that had the best sense of making a workable pro forma that could realistically be developed while creating a great sense of place.”
In the final phase of the 2013 competition, which will conclude on April 11, each of the final four teams will be given the opportunity to expand their original schemes and respond in more detail. On March 15, one representative from each finalist team will visit Minneapolis, all expenses paid, and will have the opportunity to tour the site and refine their presentations. On April 10-11, finalist team members will present their schemes to the competition jury during a public forum in Minneapolis. 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.
2013 Jury Members:
- Jury Chairman Bart Harvey
- Stuart Ackerberg, chief executive officer, The Ackerberg Group, Minneapolis, Minn.
- Gerdo Aquino, president, SWA Group, Los Angeles, Calif.
- John Breitinger, vice-president of investment and development, United Properties, Minneapolis, Minn.
- Andre Brumfield, director of Midwest Region, planning and urban Design, Gensler, Chicago, Ill.
- Robert Engstrom, president, Robert Engstrom Companies, Bloomington, Minn.
- Todd Mead, principal, Civitas, Denver, Colo.
- Alexander Nyhan, development manager, Forest City, Washington, D.C.
- Beth Pfeifer, director of development, the Cornerstone Group, Bloomington, Minn.
- Pablo Vaggione, director, Design Convergence, Madrid, Spain
- Tim Van Meter, partner, Van Meter, Williams, Pollack LLP, Denver, Colo.
- Barbara Wilks, partner, W Architecture and Landscape Architecture, New York, N.Y.
For more information and to view the teams who received honorable mention visit uli.org.
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