The Urban Land Institute (ULI), an international nonprofit focusing on research and education to “provide leadership in the responsible use of land in creating sustaining thriving communities worldwide,” has identified two New Orleans neighborhoods as the site for its annual comprehensive design and development competition. The 13th Annual Urban Land Institute Hines Competition invites graduate-level students to explore the real challenges and issues of the urban landscape and to combine architectural, design, planning, engineering, urban policy, and lending experience to propose a multidisciplinary approach to improving the neighborhood.

The subject site this year is comprised of the Tulane/Gravier and Iberville neighborhoods,which are historically rich, containing a mix of residential, commercial, and industrial properties. “Framed by the new medical center on Canal Street, by the Lafitte Greenway and the Treme neighborhood on its opposite side, and the elevated I-10,” these neighborhoods exhibit the challenges and opportunities that face the City of New Orleans, including infrastructure, public safety, workforce development, equity and disparities, housing, and access to recreation.

In response to the news, Managing Partner Robert M. Steeg said, “ULI’s decision to select New Orleans and its Tulane/Gravier and Iberville neighborhoods as the site of The Urban Land Institute’s 13th Annual Hines Competition puts the world on notice that New Orleans is still fertile ground for revitalization and its neighborhoods are prime for a renaissance. The competition is an exciting opportunity for future leaders of real estate to bring their energy, ideas and passion to the City of New Orleans. These young leaders will bring a fresh, multi-disciplinary approach to development and community investment along with the desire to make systemic, comprehensive change in a complex urban environment.”

Four university teams, including two from Harvard University, one from the University of Maryland, and a joint team of students from the University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee and the University of Wisconsin – Madison, have been selected as the finalists.

While the competition itself is fictional, the plans developed by the competing teams and their findings will serve as an interesting contrast and comparison to the proposals under the Livable Claiborne Communities (LCC) study prepared by the City of New Orleans. The LCC serves to link “community revitalization analysis and recommendations for the Claiborne Corridor with transportation and redevelopment” and offers proposals and scenarios for transportation and development over the next twenty to thirty years.

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