UC students receive honorable mention in real estate development competition

Graduate student teams challenged to design thriving, mixed-use neighborhood in downtown Kansas City

The East Village neighborhood in downtown Kansas City, Missouri, was the study site for the Urban Land Institute’s (ULI) 19th annual ULI/Gerald D. Hines Student Urban Design Competition. This educational initiative, open to graduate-level students, encouraged innovative ideas and cross-disciplinary collaboration in devising a comprehensive design and development program for an actual large-scale urban site.

Four teams were selected as the finalists out of a total of 110 teams (550 students) from 62 universities in the U.S., Canada and Singapore who registered to participate in the 2021 competition. 105 teams submitted proposals, with winners selected by a jury of 16 leading ULI members representing a broad variety of real estate and related disciplines.

UC team’s entry, The Combine was one of nine honorable mention recognitions in the competition. Team members from University of Cincinnati included students in the DAAP program, Snigdha Bhattiprolu and Bryan Raymond, enrolled in the master of architecture program and Dani Wene, master of landscape architecture. The team also included students in the MBA program Andrew Poole and Victor Matos, who are also enrolled in the graduate certificate program in real estate.

Faculty advisers for the team were Andrew Tetrault, Adjunct Instructor, UC Design, Art and Architecture and Dr. Michael Eriksen, Academic Director of the UC Real Estate Center and Associate Professor of Real Estate.

“This is the fourth year in a row a UC team has either been a finalist (2019, 2020) or has received an honorable mention (2017, 2021),” said Eriksen. “This repeated success is only matched by programs at MIT and Harvard."

“I am immensely proud of the students and the recognition they have brought to their respective programs," added Tetrault. "Their hard work paid off!”

 “It was a privilege to participate in the ULI Hines Student Competition and I’m proud of the work our team was able to submit,” said Victor Matos, UC team participant. “Our focus for the development was to create an environment that would be inviting to a wide array of people. The development site is located between Kansas city’s bustling commercial business district and the neglected Paseo West community. There is an interstate separating the two areas and we knew that it would take a special development to bring the communities together. The Combine provides that by offering mixed-use developments with retail space at the ground level and housing above."

“Our proposal also provides office space intended for an Agro-Tech firm’s headquarters as well as green space for their greenhouse production facilities."

The UC team’s project submission, The Combine, was inspired by the history of Kansas City. Kansas City became prominent in the mid-1800’s as a “cow town” that would attract cowboys, farmers, and railroad merchants to do business.

“We thought that mixed-use developments providing space for local businesses and open green spaces for community gardens would be a perfect tribute to the past,” said Matos.

UC’s submission, The Combine


About the Competition

The competition simulated an actual design, planning, and development scenario, as part of Kansas City’s vision to ensure its Greater Downtown as a vibrant, connected core for the city and region. The competition asked students to consider issues of housing affordability, equity, transportation, mobility, sustainability, and resilience in their proposals. Teams comprised of five students each had 15 days to create proposals that illustrate innovative approaches to five general elements: 1) planning context and analysis, 2) a master land use plan, 3) urban design, 4) site-specific illustrations of new development, and 5) development schedule and finances. Participants received project briefing materials, including a comprehensive statement of the challenge, background information on the site, market information, relevant existing design proposals, and site maps and photos.

Teams were required to be multidisciplinary and include students pursuing at least three different degree programs across at least three different disciplines. This mix typically includes graduate students who are pursuing programs in real estate development, architecture, landscape architecture, urban planning, urban design, finance, historic preservation, engineering, and law.

The four finalist teams will now advance to the final round of the competition in April, where they will compete for a $50,000 prize.

Read more about the finalists and project submissions here.


The competition is funded through an endowment from Gerald D. Hines, chairman and founder of the global Hines real estate organization and a recipient of the 2002 ULI Prize for Visionaries in Urban Development. A legend in the real estate industry, Hines was 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. Since the first competition in 2003, more than 9,725 students on over 1,945 teams have participated, including 360 students who have made it to the finals.

For more information on the ULI Hines Student Competition, visit uli.org/hines. To learn more about Kansas City, see the We Choose KC video and the Choosing OneKC video from the Kansas City Area Development Council.