UT urban design team named national finalist in land development competition


Katie Summers, Mark Nordby and Mitchell Peterson are three members of UT’s team competing in an urban design competition (Yishuen Lo and Tarek Salloum are not pictured). The interdisciplinary graduate student team was recently named a finalist alongside Georgia Tech, the University of Maryland and Harvard.

Photo Credit: Caleb Kuntz | Daily Texan Staff

Students from UT have been named as finalists in an urban design competition alongside groups from Georgia Tech, the University of Maryland and Harvard.

The Gerald D. Hines Student Urban Design Competition tasks graduate student teams with creating a design proposal that promotes healthy living for a designated city, with Nashville, Tenn., as this year’s location. The contest requires interdisciplinary cooperation between varied majors to assist with the financial aspect of land development.

UT’s team, led by landscape architecture graduate student Katie Summers, includes architecture graduate student Yishuen Lo, business administration graduate student Tarek Salloum, architecture graduate student Mitchell Peterson and architecture graduate student Mark Christopher Nordby. The faculty advisor for the group is architecture professor Simon Atkinson.

Summers said the collaboration between architecture and business helped to diversify the team’s final product.

“We pulled our individual strengths together. We all had a hand in each pieces’ development,” Summers said. “I think that’s what makes our team so strong, our ability to build upon one another.”

Salloum, a business graduate student, said becoming a finalist came as a surprise to him.

“Whenever I received the email from [Summers], I could not believe it at first,” Salloum said. “It was surreal for me. The first picture that came to mind was our first meeting back in November at Caffe Medici. Here we are, after four months, and a dream is coming true. We are definitely closer now.”

According to Lo, the team’s development plan, Greenheart Village, focuses on establishing a new model of urban living and rebranding Nashville as an active, healthy and engaged community.

“The design utilizes adaptive infrastructure, such as buildings, landscape and streets, to respond to ecological, social and economic changes,” Lo said. “Land use and programs inside buildings would change depending on market demands. So, instead of presenting buildings as static products, the design recognizes that buildings could adapt and change over time.”

The graduate student teams from all four universities will make their final presentations April 3. Summers said the team’s success could mean larger recognition for UT’s architecture program.

“I think we have a strong proposal that we can build off of for the final presentation in April,” Summers said. “We have a lot of work ahead, but I think it will pay off with a win — not only for ourselves but for the University.”