Bauer Students Among Honorees Of ULI/Hines Design Competition

Honorable Mention Seen as Endorsement of Bauer College’s New Graduate Real Estate Program

Published on February 28, 2012

Honorable Mention Seen as Endorsement of Bauer College’s New Graduate Real Estate Program

Graduate real estate students Keith Richards (left) and Brian Ferguson are part of UH team that also included graduate students from Hines College, which received an honorable mention in the 2012 Urban Land Institute/Gerald D. Hines Urban Design Competition.

A team from the University of Houston is among the top 13 finishers in the illustrious 2012 Urban Land Institute/Gerald D. Hines Urban Design Competition. The jury awarded the multi-disciplinary UH group, made up of two students from the C. T. Bauer College of Business’s new Graduate Real Estate Program and three students from the Gerald D. Hines College of Architecture, an honorable mention for “superior financials.”

This year’s competition is the university’s first outing in the 10-year-old, Washington-based competition, administered by the Urban Land Institute (ULI) and named for Houston developer Gerald D. Hines. A total of 139 teams from 64 schools across the United States and Canada submitted plans for the urban design challenge, a hypothetical project centered on Houston’s historic downtown Post Office building.

On Friday, Feb. 24, the UH team received an email saying their project, “Houston’s Urban Bayou Neighborhood,” was one of nine Honorable Mentions. The group consisted of Bauer MBA students Keith Richards and Brian Ferguson — plus David Ladewig, Ashleigh Rogers and Tiger Lyon, all MS Architecture students from Hines College.

The competition’s four finalists, announced Monday, Feb. 27, are University of California — Berkeley; University of Colorado/Harvard University (for a joint project), Columbia University; and the University of Michigan. A winner will be named April 6 in Houston.

“The UH team’s Honorable Mention is a major accomplishment,” said an elated John E. Walsh, director of Bauer College’s Graduate Real Estate Program. “When you recognize that this competition is in its tenth year, that 139 teams participated and that many of them are from highly rated universities that have competed multiple times, you can appreciate the magnitude of our team’s showing.”

“Our team was thrilled to hear that we received Honorable Mention for our financial work,” Ferguson said. “We had hopes to be one of the teams in the finals, but having received this as a consolation prize is a great honor. Many people have been working hard to get the UH Graduate Real Estate Program some recognition, and hopefully this will bring some attention to our growing program as well as the university.”

Richards, who led the team, added: “I could not be prouder to be making history here at the University of Houston Bauer College of Business, and more so as students in the Graduate Real Estate Program, by being the first team to compete in this prestigious competition and then to get Honorable Mention right out of the gate.”

The students prepared for the competition in Finance Professor Charles R. Savino’s Fall 2011 “Real Estate Studies and Projects” course. The deadline for their proposal was Jan. 31 — a mere 15 days after they learned the downtown Post Office had been chosen as the competition site.

The Bauer grad students said the process was an excellent real-life model for their multidisciplinary group.

“Our practice-based education would not have been complete without an understanding of how to collaborate with related practitioners and learning their motivations, needs and challenges,” Richards said. “I feel much more prepared for going into a development career and working with architects and other professionals in the real world.”

Ferguson concurred. “This competition was a chance to get some real world experience and put ourselves in the shoes of a developer,” he said. “Our team might not have had the most experience with real estate development coming into the competition, but we were confident that we came up with a plan that had a chance to win. Hopefully being awarded Honorable Mention will help us get recognized and assist in launching our careers in real estate.”

On April 6, the four finalists will present their updated schemes to the jury, and the winner of the $50,000 prize will be announced. The three finalists will receive $10,000 per team. Last year’s winner was the University of Michigan.

The other teams designated for honorable mention were Harvard University (superior site planning); University of Virginia (superior focus on job creation);  University of Texas at Austin (superior focus on demographics); University of Pennsylvania (superior focus on water treatment); and Ball State University (superior presentation graphics). Three honorable mentions for overall merit were awarded to University of Oklahoma; Georgia Institute of Technology and University of Oklahoma.