K-State urban design team reaches final four in national competition


As K-State eagerly waits to see where the men’s basketball team will end up in the NCAA tournament, another K-State team has already made it to their own finals. The K-State Urban Design team has made it to the Final Four in the Gerald D. Hines Student Urban Design Competition, alongside several Ivy League schools.

The group is made up of three K-State landscape architect students, in addition to a real estate student from the University of Missouri-Kansas City and another architect student from the University of Kansas.

Derek Hoetmer, senior in landscape architecture, said the team represents a new type of group in the competition.

“There’s never been a team that’s A: been as young as we have, and B: have three schools represented,” Hoetmer said. “That’s never happened.”

The first part of the competition took place Jan. 14-28. The group had two weeks to review a brief from the Urban Land Institute (ULI), who hosted the competition. The brief centers around a different city every year, with Minneapolis, Minn. as the 2013 city.

According to the ULI website, the contest “challenges multidisciplinary student teams to devise a comprehensive development program for a real, large-scale site” using methods such as “drawings, site plans, tables and market-feasible financial data.”

The K-State team’s project was titled “The Armory,” and centered around a historical building in downtown Minneapolis near the Vikings Stadium. Their project also involves changing some of the city’s famous Skyway systems, as well as adding retail space and parks to the surrounding area.

Approximately 149 teams from 70 universities across the United States and Canada entered their designs into the competition. K-State is in the final four with teams from Purdue, Harvard and Yale.

The prize for making it to the finals is $10,000. If the team wins the whole contest they qualify for the grand prize of $50,000. Ten percent of the money goes to the winners’ school, and the participants get to enjoy the rest.

Winning would be a good opportunity to make money, but it would also be great reward for the team’s long journey and hard work. Kevin Cunningham, team leader and senior in landscape architecture, said the group has been dedicated to this project for awhile.

“We’ve been invested in this project for a lot longer than just since Jan. 14,” Cunningham said. “It’s been an effort that’s been in the back of our minds for the past year or more.”

The team is going to Minneapolis to visit the site of their project this Thursday. The final presentation before the competition jury will be April 10 and 11, giving the team a few more weeks to refine their project submission.

Kylie Harper, senior in landscape architecture, said she feels that even though there’s still work to be done, she is confident in her team and their presentation.

“I think we have a really good chance,” Harper said. “I think we have a really strong team. Honestly, I think we’re gonna win.”