Tech Team presenting real estate development proposal at ULI Hines final presentation event.

Design Team Takes the Win at ULI Hines Competition

Design Team Takes the Win at ULI Hines Competition

Wes McRae | April 24, 2024 – Atlanta, GA

Citing the team's inclusive design and practical planning, judges at the 2024 ULI Hines North America Student Competition named Meander this year's winner.

“With its $50,000 first and $10,000 finalist prizes, the ULI Hines Competition is one of North America’s most competitive and admired student competitions attracting teams from top schools across the US and Canada," said Ellen Dunham-Jones, who coordinates Georgia Tech's participation in the competition. "Although the first round of the competition is only two weeks, the collaboration between the disciplines deepens the thinking of the students for the rest of their careers."

"It’s a great feather in Georgia Tech’s cap that of our eight teams this year, we had the winner, two of the four finalist teams, as well as one of the four honorable mentions. None of which would have happened without the many other faculty and professional advisors, especially Rick Porter, Director of the Master of Real Estate Development program."

Dunham-Jones, a professor in the School of Architecture, has led teams to earn a total of 18 placements and $120,000 in prize money for students in 12 years.

“You cannot talk about the ULI Hines competition without also mentioning the incredible leadership of Ellen Dunham-Jones," said Julie Kim, chair of the School.. Under the skillful and thoughtful guidance of Ellen, since 2012, hundreds of students at Georgia Tech have immersed themselves in this truly interdisciplinary experience - and have been elevated to the competition finals multiple years in a row. This is the second time that two Georgia Tech teams have made it to the final four, and we are thrilled to bring the grand prize home this year.”

Noah Stogner (MSUD), Grace Kunst (MSUD), Arthur Santos Miranda (MCRP), Vivian Lin (MCRP), and Brooke Blankenship (M. Arch) submitted the Meander project. Mike Dobbins, professor of the practice in the School of City and Regional Planning, served as faculty advisor for this team. The team also had two professional advisors, both principals at Sizemore Group: Lily Del Berrios, President and Deanna Murphy (M.Arch/MCRP 2010), Director of Planning.

"The competition is important because the more training and experience students get in bridging theory and policy with practice and implementation, the better prepared they are to enter their futures," Dobbins said.

Students in the competition had two weeks to devise a development program for a real, large-scale site in Seattle. Teams provide graphic boards and narratives of their proposals including designs and market-feasible financial data.

Asked what made Meander stand out, Stogner relayed some of the judges' feedback. "Inclusive design is what is needed here (in Seattle), and [Meander] hit the nail on the head," according to the judges. Inclusivity was the core of the team's design, said Stogner. "Our entire project and presentation focused on Inclusive design, which was a design pillar of the 2035 Seattle Comprehensive Plan."

"This means Meander not only benefited those with limited mobility but also those who have financial and housing burdens as well."

Focusing on inclusive design did not come at the expense of practicality. Meander offered the most realistic approach, according to the judges. "The scale of your proposed buildings and building phasing approach were very appreciated," judges said.

Meander was not the only Tech team to be one of the four finalists this year. Judges also praised the Beyond Boundaries concept. "It came down to splitting hairs between the two Georgia Tech teams," judges said, "but ultimately, here in Seattle, we like wood, and [Meander]'s mass timber components set you apart."

Meander had a full mass timber development, which is the first of its kind, Stogner said.

Along with the finalist teams, Nexus24 received an honorable mention this year.

"Winning ULI Hines feels amazing, almost surreal. We grew closer together as we continued to push to the finish line, and when we submitted, we knew that whatever the outcome was, we had done something we were extremely proud of," Stogner said. "We had many people praying over and encouraging us as we traveled out to Seattle, which allowed us to feel confident in our presentation; we left it all out on the floor!"

"We are so grateful that our hard work paid off, and that we get to say we represented Georgia Tech well... and that we’re the 2024 ULI Hines North America Student Competition winners!"



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