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Levin College Students Recognized in Prestigious ULI Hines Competition

A group of students from Cleveland State University’s Levin College of Public Affairs and Education recently teamed up with their peers from Kent State University's Urban Design Collaborative and received an honorable mention in the Urban Land Institute (ULI) Hines Student Competition. The ULI Hines Competition is a highly competitive event that takes place every year, where students from all over the world come together to develop a growth plan for a real site. The challenge is to engage in responsible land use in a North American city.

Chris Rini and EJ McGorty represented Levin College’s Maxine Goodman Levin School of Urban Affairs and worked with KSU’s Drew Thompson (Architecture), Jyae McWilson (Urban Design), and Raz Rasmussen (Architecture). The competition required them to design a market-feasible redevelopment plan for Seattle’s King County Civic Campus - a 15-acre study area that includes a courthouse, a jail complex, an administration building, and other supporting government service buildings.

The CSU/Kent team’s concept, named “The Wedge”, aimed to reimagine the competition site as a center of support and waystation for neighboring Seattle districts, as well as a thriving neighborhood of its own with safety, mobility, and resilience as guiding principles. The team’s approach was to build upon concurrent Seattle transit plans with new retail frontage, pedestrian-only streets, a resilience hub, a central plaza, and four mixed-use towers. Their proposal entailed 2.4 million square feet of housing, office, retail, hospitality, public and event space, and their financial feasibility model illustrated $1.89 billion in new value and identified over $107 million in gap financing. Their proposal made use of a public/private partnership, tax-increment financing, federal historic and new market tax credits, as well as affordable housing subsidies specific to Seattle.

The ULI Hines Student Competition is a great opportunity for graduate students to create interdisciplinary teams and participate in a challenging exercise in responsible land use. Teams of five students, pursuing degrees in at least three different disciplines, have two weeks to develop a growth plan for a real, large-scale site in a North American city. The teams present graphic boards and narratives of their proposals, including designs and market-feasible financial data.

The ULI Hines Student Competition is part of the Institute's ongoing efforts to raise awareness among young people about creating better communities, improving development patterns, and promoting the need for multidisciplinary solutions to development and design challenges.