A team of students from the School of Architecture at The University of Texas at Austin has been chosen as one of this year's four finalist teams to compete in the 2008 Gerald D. Hines Student Urban Design Competition hosted by the Urban Land Institute (ULI).
The four finalists were selected from 96 teams composed of 480 students representing 29 universities in the United States and Canada. Interdisciplinary teams of students will compete for a $50,000 prize by creating a design and development proposal for a 464-acre site south of downtown Dallas.
The competition encourages cooperation and teamwork, which are necessary talents in the planning, design and development of sustainable communities. The multi-disciplinary teams are composed of students from a variety of studies, including architecture, landscape architecture, urban planning, historic preservation, engineering, real estate development, finance, psychology and law.
"The Urban Land Institute competition has grown to become one of the most important interdisciplinary collaborations in the School of Architecture, if not the university," said Dean Almy, director of graduate programs in urban design and landscape architecture, and faculty adviser to the competition. "The competition brings together students from multiple backgrounds in the service of revitalizing the design and development of the American city."
This year's competition site near Dallas is bordered by the northern edge of the Interstate 30 right-of-way, the South Central Expressway, the railroad right-of-way between and paralleling Corinth Street and Grand Avenue, and South Austin Street.
ULI selected the site because it provides an opportunity for students to illustrate innovative ways to incorporate six aspects of urban design identified by ULI as essential components of sustainable communities. These include mixed-income housing, adequate infrastructure to support growth, ample public space, places of commerce, environmental preservation (incorporating green design principles to mitigate climate change) and financial feasibility.
Three major infrastructure initiatives to transform downtown Dallas must be adopted into the proposals: 1) the Trinity River Corridor (recreational amenities, water management and environmental reclamation); Trinity River Parkway (a 10-mile express toll road to divert through-traffic from downtown); and Project Pegasus (the redesign of downtown interstates and interchanges).
"This competition aims to give the next generation a better understanding of the challenges involved in urban design, and how the different elements-such as various land uses, public areas and traffic patterns-all interact to influence how urban areas evolve over time, said competition jury chairman James J. Curtis III, principal, Bristol Group in San Francisco. "It's a major part of ULI's ongoing effort to draw the best and brightest young minds to our industry."
The competition has been funded in perpetuity through a $3 million endowment from real estate developer Gerald Hines.
"Through this competition, we are raising awareness among the students of the key role high-quality urban design plays in creating sustainable living environments," said Hines. "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 other three finalist teams are from University of Michigan and the University of Pennsylvania (which has two teams that qualified for the finals).
The University of Texas at Austin team includes members of graduate programs in regional planning, architecture and landscape architecture. Team members are Alexander Kone, Chad Gnant, Ji Zhou, Michelle Slattery and Shawn Strange.
In addition to the top prize, an additional $30,000 will be split among the remaining three teams.