Team Representing Columbia University and Pratt Institute Win 2020 ULI Hines Student Competition

A redevelopment plan for a Miami site presented by a team comprising students from Columbia University and Pratt Institute took top honors in the 2020 ULI/Gerald D. Hines Student Urban Design Competition. The ideas contest provides graduate students with the opportunity to devise a comprehensive design and development plan for a large-scale site in an urban area. Members of the winning team were awarded a prize of $50,000 at the conclusion of the competition on April 7. The remaining three finalist teams, with representatives from the University of Cincinnati, Cornell University, Columbia University, and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, each received $10,000.  

While the competition normally takes place on site, this year the competition pivoted to a two-day virtual experience and the students rose to the challenge. On the first day, the students rehearsed their plans in front of seven experts and ULI members in Southeast Florida, and the following day they presented their plans virtually to a 12-person jury of ULI members from around the United States. 

This year’s competition involved an area in midtown Miami, split between the Wynwood and Edgewater neighborhoods. The Florida East Coast Railway bisects the study area, where students evaluated the potential to create a thriving, mixed-use neighborhood around a commuter train station, while considering issues of housing affordability, sustainability, and resilience in their proposals. 


The jury selected the four teams that advanced to the final round of the competition from 113 teams with students from 42 sponsoring universities and 56 campuses, including 21 multicampus teams, in North America and beyond. 

  • “The 2020 finalists raised the level of creative thinking and technical execution delivered in the competition. This was one of the most complicated study areas that Hines competitors have ever had to work with. However, each of the finalists rose to the challenge and delivered compelling visions of the site’s redesign.”

    – Richard M. Gollis, ULI Hines Jury Chair, ULI Trustee and ULI Foundation Governor

The winning plan from Columbia University and Pratt Institute, “La Mezcla,” is designed around three pillars: ecology, community, and economy. This mixed-use development proposal creates an environmentally sustainable community that remains relevant through ensuing climate change. The development seeks to bring together the socioeconomic diversity that exists between Wynwood and Edgewater despite the physical and perceived barrier on the site. 

The La Mezcla team was composed of Duane Martinez, master of city and regional planning, Pratt Institute; Jonathan Hong, master of real estate development candidate, Columbia University; Matea Kulusic, master of real estate development candidate, Columbia University; Matthew Mitchell, master of architecture candidate, Pratt Institute; and Pavel Petrov, master of real estate development candidate, Columbia University. 

“Our team agrees that the ULI Hines Competition was one of the single most challenging endeavors of our graduate experience, both from a development and design perspective,” said Hong. “We embodied the spirit of La Mezcla as we were able to leverage our diverse backgrounds, prior professional experience, and unique perspectives in pursuit of a common goal. We were excited to present a strong united vision that was centered around the three pillars of community, ecology, and economy. This helped us to set the framework that we could all stand behind and be proud of, and we look forward to building on our competition experience in our careers to come.” 

“The 2020 finalists raised the level of creative thinking and technical execution delivered in the competition,” said ULI Hines Jury Chair, ULI Trustee, and ULI Foundation Governor Richard M. Gollis. “This was one of the most complicated study areas that Hines competitors have ever had to work with. It required a solution that covered millions of square feet of potential development, realities of South Florida resiliency, social equity for stakeholder communities, and significant regional transit connectivity. However, each of the finalists rose to the challenge and delivered compelling visions of the site’s redesign. La Mezcla stood out because it embraced the spirit of the Wynwood/Edgewater neighborhood. They created a plan with a strong urban design vision, sound technical strategies, and a compelling financial plan,” said Gollis, who is also cofounder and principal of the Concord Group, based in Newport Beach, California. 

The competition jury consisted of renowned experts representing a strategic mix of land use professionals, including developers, architects, urban designers, urban planners, investment bankers, and financial analysts. Biographies for the jury members are online here. 

The program is part of an ongoing ULI effort to raise interest among young people in creating better communities and improving urban development patterns, as well as increase awareness among students of the need for interdisciplinary solutions to development and design challenges. The competition is strategically structured to encourage cooperation and teamwork—necessary talents in the planning, design, and development of sustainable communities—among future land use professionals and allied professions. 

The ULI Hines Student Competition was created with a generous endowment from longtime ULI leader Gerald D. Hines, founder of the Hines real estate organization. 

Find the winning and finalist presentations in Knowledge Finder. 


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