Oliver Kliewe / Sun File Photo

The winning team is made up of graduate students in architecture, city and regional planning and the Cornell Baker Program in Real Estate.

April 24, 2018

Cornell Team Wins $50,000 in Urban Design Competition

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A Cornell team was awarded the top prize of $50,000 in the annual 2018 Urban Land Institute Gerald D. Hines student competition on April 5.

Cornell’s team, chosen out of 130 teams from 60 universities in the U.S. and Canada, was made up of students from architecture, city and regional planning and the Cornell Baker Program in Real Estate.

For the urban design competition, the participating teams were asked to create a master development plan to renovate the community next to the Don River in Toronto. The plan serves to stimulate more development of both residential and commercial space, according to a competition press release.

Team member Jamie Yun Mitchell grad said her team’s creation was initially inspired by “the amazing views from the site of Toronto’s Downtown corridor with the iconic CN Tower.”

Because of this, in their master plan, “all site features and site lines oriented towards Downtown” and the buildings were terraced to maximize the views, Mitchell told The Sun in an email.

The team’s design also took into consideration the threat of flooding. To mitigate the flood waters entering from the Don River, the team implemented floodable landscape elements that would dynamically shift the setting of spaces depending on the season.

The team’s faculty advisor, Prof. Suzanne Lanyi Charles, city and regional planning, said that winning the competition was “one of the high points of [her] teaching career.”

“For a professor, having students work so hard, produce their very best work, and then receive public acknowledgement for it is really special. I am happy to have had the chance to work with such excellent students and bask in their glory,” Charles told The Sun.

Titled “Montage,” the project aims to promote the integration of arts in people’s life. “At the center of the development, the Nell Shipman Cinema Centre and Broadview Plaza seamlessly integrate the recreational, cultural and professional elements of the district,” according to the project description.

For Mitchell, the fact that no Cornell team has ever made it to the finals before made the top prize an even greater accomplishment and pride.

“We feel empowered to encourage our peers to collaborate and reach across the aisle to other fields of study,” she said.

Mitchell added that the team not only took away a prize from the competition, but also the lesson on the importance of collaboration between teammates.

“Architects, planners, and real estate developers, all think about a site, in different metrics, scales and values,” Mitchell said. “This demonstrates how students from our planning, architecture, and real estate programs can come together to collaborate on high-quality work.”

Charles told The Sun that she believes “this model of interdisciplinary design is so valuable” that she developed the semester-long course CRP 6580, Residential and Commercial Development.