CMU Team Wins Honorable Mention for ULI/ Gerald D Hines Urban Design Competition-School of Architecture - Carnegie Mellon University

Friday, March 8, 2013

CMU Team Wins Honorable Mention for ULI/ Gerald D Hines Urban Design Competition


ULI Hines Award

Urban Land Institute (ULI) and Hines, an international real estate company, have teamed up for the past 10 years to create an annual urban design competition for graduate students in the US. This year, three of our own CMU SoArch graduate students were part of a team presented with an Honorable Mention for Presentation award for their proposal to the The ULI Gerald D. Hines Student Urban Design Competition.


MARCH 8, 2013 -- The ULI/Hines Student Urban Design Competition is all about ideas. The jury looks for ideas that rely on and feed off of the interdisciplinary nature of urban design. So it should come as no surprise to see a team from CMU, a hub for interdisciplinary activity, have a team honored in the competition. Our winning team consistes of Xiaopeng Ma, a student in the Master of Sustainable Design (MSSD) program, Ling Hong and Suzy Li, current Master of Urban Design (MUD) students, Bohan Yang, a Heinz student, and team leader Don Johnson, a Tepper student and SoArch alum. These five students were fortunate enough to work together on a previous project, so they quickly meshed and cooperated on their ULI/Hines proposal. 

Advised by local architect, Steve Quick, the five graduate students submitted MINNEAPOLIS 2.0: LOCAL (or M2L), a proposal which created a diverse Downtown East with locally grown food, mixed-income housing, sustainable energy systems, and an increase of shared green space. By including residential, office, and commercial spaces, Downtown East has activity 24 hours a day, which is different from our own downtown Pittsburgh, which has diminished levels of activity outside of the 8-5 workday.

At first, the team struggled with developing a concept because they were unable to visit Minneapolis to help them generate a concept. However, Hong states, “Later on when we found out more about their local culture of urban farming and riverfront parks, we slowly developed our ideas.” Li adds, “We had to figure out a big idea for the competition instead of just doing the design, so we did a little bit of research of the background and culture of that place. Then we came up with urban agriculture… Xiaopeng worked on the combined heating and cooling and that is how we came up with the idea of LOCAL”, or the development of a place where you could have everything you need within walking distance.

ULI/Hines Site Plan

They developed a green edge as a soft barrier between the already developed Downtown West (MINNEAPOLIS 1.0), and their proposed Downtown East (MINNEAPOLIS 2.0). The barrier helps people commuting down this axis distinguish between the downtown area and the newly designed Downtown East. They also designed 5th avenue as a perpendicular axis connecting the public spaces surrounding the arena with the traditional Downtown West offices and government buildings.

Li states, “We wanted to bring the green from the riverfront to the downtown- to the city”. Li pointed to an image of their site plan (seen to the right) to refer to the pockets of green space added to their urban design to lead people from the well developed water edge down into the city, where they could eat at the sportsbar or visit the market. M2L also addresses storm and surface water management by "minimizing impervious surfaces, disconnecting from the city's storm water system, and adopting rainwater harvesting for on-site use".

Another key component to M2L's concept was the development of a food market and urban agricultural laboratory in Minneapolis's Armory, a historic, underutilized building. Through the increase in energy efficiency, on-site rainwater harvesting, urban agriculture, and public green space, M2L addresses the cultural and future sustainable goals of Minneapolis.  

Hong and Li are honored to be chosen by the ULI/Hines competition to be recognized for their group's accomplishments. They will take what they have learned from their experience completing this competition and apply it to their future projects. Currently, Hong and Li are working with their MUD colleagues on a solution to the transit stops along Route 51. 

You can see other winning projects and the official announcement of MINNEAPOLIS 2.0: LOCAL's award by visiting: