A Harvard University team won the top prize in the 21st annual Urban Land Institute Gerald D. Hines Student Urban Design Competition, where graduate students compete to show their real estate prowess in tackling complex development issues facing U.S. cities.
The five-student team was awarded $50,000 for its proposed reimaging of an underutilized part of North Charleston, South Carolina, the host city for this year’s competition. Harvard’s team proposed an $843 million, 3.6 million-square-foot mixed-use development called The Knot.
The team was led by Youngsoo Yang with other graduate students on the team including Tomas Quaglia, Ben Parker, Emily Johansen and Rachaya Wattanasirichaigoon. Richard Peiser, a professor of real estate development at Harvard University’s Graduate School of Design, served as the faculty adviser on the project.
“WE WON!,” Yang said in a recent LinkedIn post. “After three months of hard work and many sleepless nights, I’m thrilled to share the news that our proposal, Knot Charleston, has won the 21st annual ULI Hines Competition.”
The Harvard team’s design topped 83 other group projects. In its proposal, the winning team said The Knot would be “a new vision for complete living in North Charleston,” with urban greenhouses helping to produce local foods, rain gardens and green roofs to mitigate flooding and offer protection from extreme heat, affordable housing for lower-income households, extensive bike lanes and pedestrian walkways to reduce greenhouse gases and 235,000 square feet of solar panels.
To accomplish these lofty goals, the team presented a plan to acquire the development site through a combination of fee-simple purchases of private parcels and to enter into a long-term ground lease with the city of North Charleston to buy the publicly owned parcels. The financing strategy for the project called for using income generated from market-rate apartments to subsidize the community-oriented uses across all phases of development.