Student Teams Challenged To Demonstrate Building for Health, Flood Resiliency in Master Plan Design
WASHINGTON (January 13, 2014) – Nashville’s historic Sulphur Dell neighborhood has been chosen as the site for the twelfth annual Urban Land Institute (ULI) Gerald D. Hines Student Urban Design Competition. The ideas competition will allow multidisciplinary graduate student teams the opportunity to devise a development vision for Sulphur Dell, which must be comprehensively designed and operated with all the elements necessary to promote healthy living for its residents.
Currently underway, the 2014 competition is designed to simulate an actual urban planning and development scenario, with certain details changed for the purposes of the competition. It 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 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. Student teams will be tasked with creating a development program that supports healthy choices by its residents and users, which can include physical activity, access to healthy food, and social interaction. According to the fictional scenario, the owner also requires that the proposal address how to build a neighborhood that is resilient to future floods.
In addition to the guidelines stipulated by the site owners, teams must also be conscious of other stakeholders. In the surrounding area, there are a number of either historic or new developments that are not intended to be redeveloped. Students must determine how to best integrate those existing sites, while exploiting their assets in order to create more value for their proposed site. In addition, the competition assumes that the city of Nashville would like the area to incorporate transportation systems, a broad resilience strategies, and elements that would support future health-focused community design. In the scenario, the city would want the project to serve as a model initiative for future developments and work with smaller parcel owners to develop a common strategy for building healthy places.
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 to become a mixed-use area that will include residential, office and commercial use.
The study area, historically known as Sulphur Dell, is positioned north of downtown Nashville and the Tennessee State Capitol. It is bound to the west by the Rosa L. Parks Boulevard, to the north by Jefferson Street, to the east by the Cumberland River, and the south by the James Robertson Parkway. From 1870 to 1963, Sulphur Dell was home to Nashville’s professional baseball team. In addition, both minor league and Negro league teams have played in the neighborhood since the 1860s. 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 during smaller weather events.
The Hines competition is part of an ongoing ULI effort to raise interest among young people in creating better communities, improving development patterns, and increasing 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 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.
The competition has been funded through a $3 million endowment from Gerald D. Hines, chairman 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 land use industry, he 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.
Four teams are selected as finalists, and are requested to expand their proposal and present it to the jury in Nashville. A $50,000 prize will be awarded to the winning team, with $5,000 of the total going to the school. Each of the remaining three finalist teams will receive $10,000. This year, applications were submitted from 180 teams representing 72 universities in the United States and Canada, with 900 students participating in total. Since the first competition was held in 2003, nearly 5,500 students on over 1,000 teams have participated, representing schools in the U.S. and Canada.
The teams will be expected to submit proposals that illustrate innovative approaches to five general elements: 1) planning context and analysis, 2) master land use plan, 3) urban design, 4) site specific illustrations of new development, and 5) development schedule and finances. Participants have received project briefing materials, including a comprehensive problem statement; background information on the site; market information; relevant existing design proposals; site maps and photos; and other details, along with a list of materials required for team presentations. The competition is designed as an exercise; there is no intention that the students’ plans will be implemented as part of any revitalization of the site.
The teams have until January 27, 2014 to submit their completed project proposals. Four finalist teams and several honorable mentions will be named in late February. In March, the final phase of the competition, the student finalist teams will have the opportunity to expand their original schemes and respond in more detail. During this time, a member of each team will be brought to Nashville to tour the site and revise their presentations. On April 2-3, 2014, finalist team members will present their schemes to the competition jury members during a public forum in Nashville. The event will culminate with the announcement of the winning team.
Reflecting the multidisciplinary nature of the competition, ULI will select 10 to 12 jurors from diverse backgrounds in real estate development. Jurors are often a strategic mix of land use experts, including developers, brokers, architects, urban designers, landscape architects, urban planners, and policy officials, among others. The jury will be chaired by F. Barton Harvey, board member of Fannie Mae in Washington, D.C.
About the Urban Land Institute
The Urban Land Institute ( www.uli.org ) is a global nonprofit education and research institute supported by its members. Its mission is to provide leadership in the responsible use of land and in sustaining and creating thriving communities worldwide. Established in 1936, the Institute has over 30,000 members representing all aspects of land use and development disciplines.