UT Austin students win national urban design competition


AUSTIN, Texas — A multidisciplinary team of students from the University of Texas at Austin won the 20and Urban Land Institute’s (ULI) annual Gerald Hines student competition. Made up of students from the School of Architecture and the McCombs School of Business, the team received $50,000 for its prospective redevelopment plan for a mixed-use site in Oakland, California.

An ideas competition for graduate students, the ULI Hines Competition invites multidisciplinary teams from across the country to engage in a challenging exercise in responsible land use. Designed to simulate a real urban planning and development scenario, the competition gives teams just 15 days to design and submit a comprehensive master plan proposal for a large-scale urban site, complete with site plans, renderings, tables analytical and financial data available in the market. .

This is the second time a UT Austin team has won the ULI Hines contest; the first was in 2017. The team went from an initial round of 93 entries from more than 50 universities and placed ahead of three other finalist teams from Harvard University, a joint team from Massachusetts Institute of Technology and from Harvard University, and one from the Georgia Institute of Technology.

The ambitious proposal for a four-block site in downtown Oakland transforms the area into a hub of culture and transit with a mission-driven, mixed-use program driving positive social change for Oakland.

“The ULI competition is one of the great mechanisms we have to foster cross-disciplinary opportunities between the disciplines housed within the School of Architecture and McCombs,” said Dean Almy, Graduate Program Director in Design. urban. “For years, ULI has empowered our students to connect and collaborate in a way that is not available anywhere else.”

This year’s competition challenged students to transform a four-block site in downtown Oakland into a mixed-use, mixed-income neighborhood. Students have been tasked with increasing connectivity with surrounding neighborhoods, providing neighborhood services, addressing critical housing equity and affordability issues, and creating positive economic impact while increasing sustainability and resilience of the surrounding community and the city as a whole.

“The University of Texas at Austin student team has increased their knowledge and understanding of the importance of collaboration in urban development,” said Steven Spears, director of Momark Development and one of the advisors students. “Our team delivered a profound outcome that was comprehensive and visionary, carefully communicated and documented, and reflective of true team collaboration.”

The winning entry “The Stack” redesigned the site to support three pillars: health, culture and connection. The team proposed the development of a LEED Platinum, transit-focused development that would create a thriving, diverse, and integrated community reflecting Oakland culture and be a catalyst for uplifting the city’s vulnerable residents. Their ambitious proposal transforms the area into a hub of culture and transit with a mission-driven, mixed-use program that drives positive social change for Oakland.

From left to right: Alay Thakrar, Sanket Kamdar, Kent Carlson, Sophia Aitken and Margaret Gallagher

“The ULI Hines Competition is key to nurturing future leaders who can collaborate across many disciplines and offer diverse perspectives to advance the future design of cities,” said Mandy Pope, executive director of the McCombs School Real Estate Center. of Business. “We are extremely proud of the hard work, dedication and skill of our team, which led to them winning first place in this year’s competition.

UT Austin’s first-place team included Sanket Kamdar (team leader), a master’s student in urban design; Sophia Aitken, master’s student in urban planning and land use planning; Kent Carlson, who is pursuing an MBA; Margaret Gallagher, MA student in landscape architecture; and Alay Thakrar, master’s student in urban design. They were advised by Almy, Spears and Pope, as well as Rebecca Leonard of Lionheart Places, Tim Shaughnessy of HPI Multifamily and John Duke of CPM Texas.


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