UrbanPlan hosts an annual National Student Competition in which high school students from across North America compete for a development contract from the fictional city of Yorktown. In UrbanPlan, students are tasked with redeveloping six blocks in the fictional neighborhood, Elmwood. The student’s fictional companies must balance historical preservation, dereliction, and competing neighborhood priorities, along with financial constraints to meet the needs of the city.
For the National Competition, students must think on their feet as they respond to a memo issued by the city that alters the game. In 2020, Yorktown City Council asked students to respond to COVID-19 and the Black Lives Matter movement in their proposal. In 2021, the RFP mandated a specific focus on sustainability by asking students to create a street-level plan for the central corridor and factor in costs for upgrading buildings to LEED Platinum. Winners were awarded a share of the $10,000 prize.
Mike Zane, a teacher at Kalani High School, Honolulu, Hawaii, considers the program an extension of students’ learning in the classroom. “The National Urban Plan Competition gave students an opportunity to dig deeper into the political, social, economic, as well as design aspects that goes into public and private real estate redevelopment efforts they did not consider while involved in their classroom/ school level experience of Urban Plan. It has been wonderful to see the tremendous growth these students have had in the short amount of time in preparation for the national competition.”
Funding for this competition was generously provided through a donation to ULI’s Annual Fund from ULI Trustee Emeritus and ULI Foundation Governor Ron Nahas, partner, Rafanelli & Nahas LLP, Lafayette, California.
- Summer 2020 national competition video
- Summer 2021 Request for Proposals (RFP) memo
- Summer 2021 winners:
- First place: Forma Inc., Iolani HS (Honolulu, HI)
- Second place: Radiant Development, Berkeley HS (Berkeley, CA)
- Third place: Retro Development, Kalani HS (Honolulu, HI)
Summer 2021 participating teams/schools – see here.