2020 ULI Hines Competition: Miami!


This January, two teams of graduate students from Kent State University and Cleveland State University competed in the annual Urban Land Institute Hines Student Competition, a two-week competition presenting interdisciplinary student teams with a real-world challenge in the design & financing of large-scale urban developments.

The 2020 site, announced on Day 1 of the competition, was in the city of Miami, FL, with a study area north of Downtown straddling the Wynwood and Edgewater neighborhoods. A regional rail line currently divides the site, but plans are underway to add a station somewhere in the site vicinity. The competition brief emphasized the importance of multimodal transit, climate resiliency, affordability, and the integration of local arts & culture.




Cleveland urban design & development professionals advised the student groups throughout the competition period – thank you, jurors, for your time!

The final schemes both integrated new rail stations, mixed use development, affordable housing, open space, and sensitivity to climate & stormwater considerations. Even with only two weeks to develop the project, the final boards submitted were unique and thoughtful, with complex design development at multiple scales.

The Blueway:







Judy Haddad (MArch), TyJuan Swanson-Sawyer (MArch/MUD), Alex Long (MArch/MUPD), Max Hentosh (MArch/MUD), Chad Boston (MArch/MUD)



PowerPoint Presentation

PowerPoint Presentation


PowerPoint Presentation


John Dixon (MArch), Clayton O’Dell (MArch/MUD), Kaitlyn Boniecki (MArch/MUD), Elizabeth Nardi (MUPD), Chelsea Beytas (MUPD)

You can view all the 2020 Hines Competition finalists here.

Congratulations to all our students for an intense and successful two weeks!


CUDC Spring Programs Cancelled

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Due to concerns about COVID-19, all of the remaining spring programs at the CUDC have been cancelled and the CUDC’s 20th anniversary celebration will be postponed. We hope everyone stays safe and healthy during this difficult time.


Urban Indeterminacy


As we all struggle to adapt to the growing impacts of the coronavirus, it is increasingly apparent that volatility (in more than just public health) is the new normal; climate conditions, financial markets, political landscapes, and more will continue to shift in dramatic, quick, and unpredictable ways. The built environment as we know it is in many ways resistant to the changes brought on by this kind of environmental, economic, and social context—buildings are costly to adapt, infrastructure can be notoriously vulnerable to shock, and most urban systems are not designed to be flexible and responsive.


If you, like many of us, have suddenly found yourself with a lot of alone time for reading and an increasing sense of urgency about how indeterminacy impacts our cities, we’d like to recommend ‘Under the Brownstones, the Beach,’ an article by Ivy Pan & Foad Vahidi featured in our latest edition of Urban Infill, FUTURECITY. The authors imagine a social realm that thrives in unpredictable times, particularly in relation to market volatility, through a network of impermanent, small-scale public spaces. They envision a flexible, reactive system that enables the appropriation of temporarily disused spaces within the city, like “a construction site halted in winter, a foundation pit vacated during an economic downturn, and a mound of rubble after demolition.” The spaces are intimate, as a reaction to more common (and more market-supported) production of large-scale public spaces, and the system is persistent, even if none of their proposed individual social spaces is.


Pan & Vahidi’s work can be found in the Adaptations section of FUTURECITY, along with other essays and research on how cities can be responsive to our changing world. The publication as a whole interrogates many aspects of current and future urban challenges, also including pieces on data / privacy, automation, de-growth, and more. Order a copy of the book here, delivered right to the door of your temporarily socially isolated location.


Erie, PA: 2019 Community Design Charrette


In October of 2019 the CUDC staff and 6 graduate students in Architecture, Urban Design, & Landscape Architecture traveled to Erie, PA for a 3-day urban design charrette. Hosted by the Jefferson Educational Society, the aim of the Charrette was to examine the existing conditions of Erie’s Bayfront area, currently cut off from the Downtown & adjacent neighborhoods by a series of infrastructural, topographic, and programmatic barriers. The design team was charged with envisioning new possibilities for connecting along & across these barriers, in order to more seamlessly integrate the Bayfront into the larger city & region.




The students had frequent touchpoints with the Erie community throughout the charrette weekend, with daily presentations and informal check-ins to ensure their work was aligning with stakeholder needs. The final work, presented in draft form the final day of the Charrette, compiled ideas ranging from small-scale wayfinding & materials to large-scale pedestrian networks, with space for public comment and final tweaks by the CUDC staff after the charrette weekend.





The design team ultimately proposed not a single “iconic connection,” but instead a series of pathways & crossings that could take on an iconic character and experiential quality in their own right. Larger-scale connections to new park spaces, Presque Isle, and elsewhere were examined, as well as ideas for landscaping, wayfinding, programming, four-season activation, public art, and maritime heritage.





The final report, presented to the public at the Jefferson Educational Society by Project Manager Kristen Zeiber on January 30th, 2020, can be found on the Jefferson Educational Society website:

Final Charrette Report


Very special thanks to the Jefferson Educational Society for hosting a wonderful weekend, and to the Erie County Gaming Revenue Authority, the Erie Community Foundation, the Mastriana Endowment, and NAIOP for supporting the 2019 Community Design Charrette. Thanks also to Michael Fuhrman and John Vanco for their stalwart support & enthusiasm across the Charrette weekend and beyond!


Big Data & Urban Futures


The 8th issue of the CUDC’s journal Urban Infill features a collection of articles about big data and smart cities including American City 2.5 by Anna Acklin and Mark Linder. Their article explores the application of geographic information system (GIS) software as a tool of urban design. Here’s an excerpt:

The county-wide maps of American City 2.5 are a revision and expansion of a commission to study Onondaga Creek in Syracuse, New York, as a potential locus of public-private investment. American City 2.5 extends that study to an analysis and modeling of spatial data across the Onondaga County to distinguish latent communities, institutional networks, and public infrastructures through three general maps that capture the county’s economic, cultural, and hydrologic character. Exercising a variety of investigated techniques within the software, the project infuses census data into the map’s various layers, inviting a unique graphical representation of these newly designed or more informed components, territories, infrastructures, and ecologies that feed the site.


Consider the land parcel. In its most basic sense, the parcel may be understood as boundary lines demarcating plots of land at the ownership scale. In efforts to exhibit the economic character of plot ownership and neighborhoods across the county, the parcels are formally manipulated through GIS to varying degrees of distortion based on the population of college students, and are then color-coded on a gradient based on the proportion of the population without high school diplomas. The web-like feature created by this process reflects the emergence of a more bottom-up, or organic, understanding of the economic culture county-wide through the scale of the parcel.

Similar operations were employed across the three base maps to manipulate features in accordance with census information to reveal the economic, cultural, and hydrologic latencies throughout Onondaga County. In pushing the graphic capacities of the software, the layers are accentuated and expressive of the now merged features and transformed census data, subverting the typical hierarchical understanding of mapped elements.


The hydrology and geographical features of Onondaga County, New York

While the images themselves are abstract, it is this very attribute that welcomes interpretation without discrimination and creative speculation. The image’s ability to re-present and inspire design proposals remains rooted in specificity, but can simultaneously confirm, accentuate, and/or elaborate intuitions in one’s understanding of a city. As an urban design tool, this capability creates an alternative understanding of site analysis and creates ranges of new potential within proposed solutions that can be more particular as they respond to a more informed site.

To read the complete article plus others on the themes of big data, development, and adaptation, you can pick up a copy of Urban Infill No. 8 at the CUDC for $10 or order it online.

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And it you’re interested in big data and GIS as an urban design and community development tool, please join us for a lecture by Sarah Williams on MIT’s Civic Data Design Lab on March 6, 2020 at 5:30 pm. Sarah will share some of the Lab’s work and discuss how big data can be used to generate policy change. Drinks and snacks at 5:30pm; Sarah’s talk begins at 6pm.

Event is free and open to the public but registration is appreciated.