Urban Land Institute hosts “Hines Student Competition” yearly, which itself engages over 1000 of teams each year to forge a comprehensive development program for a real, large-scale site. This includes drawings, site plans, tables, and market-feasible financial data.  I was on a team in winter of 2012 with four other graduate students, which we all had specific roles on the squad.  My position was a research designer which my principal role was to research the social and physical geography to help update the team on their visual design aspect.  Other participants ranged from urban designers to landscape designer to financial advisers.  This was part of a class project led by our instructor, Debra Ryan as her role was to advise our direction during the contest.

We named the project HouZED as a special nod to northern European cities that produce no wasteful energy.  This was result of where the competition was located, Houston in a province that is not known to be energy efficient.  The goal was it to be ZED as a Zero Energy District as a key gateway where where people and ideas flow together, the Energy District will be recognized as an energy innovation hub, a destination for family-oriented entertainment, and a place to experience the Buffalo Bayou. This memorable area completes the obvious gap in Downtown Houston’s family of urban districts.  The restoration of the riverfront and creation of urban agriculture is simply a couple of sustainable strategies integrated into the plan. HouZED activates human energy in public spaces, increasing the quality of Houston’s social capital, and activates and renews abandoned urban landscapes.

In conclusion of the competition and project, it was placed first within the four teams competing at UNC Charlotte and placed in the top 25% nationally.