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January 28, 2009 1:46 PM

75-acre Denver site chosen for ULI student competition

A 75-acre site south of downtown Denver, at Broadway and Alameda Avenue, has been chosen as the development site for the seventh annual Urban Land Institute Gerald D. Hines Student Urban Design Competition.
An ideas competition for university students, the program was created to honor the legacy of urban development pioneer Gerald D. Hines, chairman of the Houston-based Hines real estate organization and a laureate of the Urban Land Institute J.C. Nichols Prize for Visionaries in Urban Development.
Through the competition, now underway, interdisciplinary teams of students have been challenged to offer a practical, workable scheme for the design and redevelopment of the Denver Design District a strategically located low-density, mixed-use commercial center adjacent to two mass transit stations and the historic Baker and West Washington Park neighborhoods
Each team is required to design a master plan for the site and supply financial projections to support the master development plan.
The competition strives 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 a North American university, including programs in real estate development, urban planning, urban design, architecture and landscape architecture.
A $50,000 prize will be awarded to the winning team; and an additional $30,000 will be split among the remaining finalist teams. This year, applications were submitted from 98 teams representing 42 universities in the United States and Canada.
For the 2009 competition, student teams are to present schemes portraying them as single-entity owners of the Denver Design District , a valuable midtown parcel comprised of three properties among roughly 75 acres just 1.5 miles south of downtown.
While the DDD boasts an impressive tenant roster, and is the largest to-the-trade design center in an eigh- state region, its built environment resembles a typical suburban power center
. Based on the assumption that the DDD parcel has ample potential for a higher and better use, the competition has charged the teams with redeveloping the entire 75-acre site and creating a landmark, transformative mixed-use community without losing the current, valuable roster of tenants.
The challenge in redeveloping the DDD site lies in accommodating the current tenant program while simultaneously redeveloping the entire site in phases.
The site has more than a half mile of frontage along Broadway, a major artery (one-way south), and direct connections to, and sight lines from, I-25 along its southern border. Additionally, two light rail stations are in close proximity; Alameda Station lies within the parcel's western border while Broadway Station is just beyond its southern edge.
An added sustainability challenge -- and new to the competition this year -- is a connection to ULI's initiative, The City in 2050: Creating Blueprints for Change.
This initiative posits a vision of the future replete with massive demographic, climate, and financial changes that likely will alter the built environment.
While adhering to the typical challenge involving financial and urban design components, teams must also consider their redevelopment of the DDD in the context of 2050 and how their plan will allow the DDD to thrive in 2050 and beyond.
The ULI Gerald D. Hines Student Urban Design Competition has been funded in perpetuity through a $3 million endowment from Gerald Hines.
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.
"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, psychology--it affects the lives of so many people," Hines said. "Through this competition, we are raising awareness among the students of the key role high-quality urban design plays in creating sustainable living environments."
The teams will be expected to submit proposals that illustrate innovative ways to incorporate six aspects of urban design that have been identified by ULI as necessary components of sustainable communities. These are: 1) mixed-income housing; 2) adequate infrastructure to support growth; 3) ample public space; 4) places of commerce; 5) environmental preservation, including mitigating climate change; and 6) financial feasibility.
Participants have received project briefing materials, including a comprehensive problem statement; background information on the site; market information; relevant existing design proposals; and other details, along with a list of materials required for team presentations.
The competition is designed as an exercise; there is no guarantee or intention that the students' plans will be implemented as part of any revitalization of the site.
Four finalist teams and up to eight honorable mentions will be named next month. In 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 Denver to tour the site and revise their presentations. On April 2, finalist team members will present their schemes to the competition jury members during a public forum in Denver. The event will culminate with the announcement of the winning team.
The competition jury consists of renowned experts in urban planning, design and development: Jury Chairman Daniel C. Van Epp, owner, The Van Epp Companies, Las Vegas; Donald K. Carter, president, Urban Design Associates, Pittsburgh; Lizanne Galbreath, managing partner, Galbreath & Co., Norwalk, Conn.; Bert Gregory, president, Mithun, Seattle; Enrique Penalosa, former mayor of Bogota, Colombia; and John F. Torti, president, Torti Gallas and Partners, Silver Spring, Md.
For more information on the ULI Gerald D. Hines Student Urban Design Competition: visit http://www.udcompetition.uli.org/ www.udcompetition.uli.org.



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