Every year the Urban Land Institute (ULI) hosts the Hines Student Competition, challenging urban planning and design graduate students to test their skills on a real-life case study. This year, the ULI chose a site straddling Midtown and downtown, highlighting the unrealized potential of the neighborhood. Located along The Connector, between Linden Avenue and 5th Street, the dozen-or-so-block site is a mix of parking lots and some of Atlanta's most iconic properties, including the Bank of America Plaza, Fox Theatre, the Varsity, and AT&T Midtown Center.
Four teams were selected as finalists, all bringing major redevelopment plans to the table, demonstrated through reports and visual presentations. While the proposals vary widely, a commonality among them is the preservation of the Varsity, though some did take liberties with the property, adding organic food markets and cooking demonstrations — a laughable juxtaposition to any native Atlantan. ("What'll ya have — a kale pomegranate smoothie?")
Below are snippets of the proposals produced by the finalists including a hometown team from Georgia Tech, two teams from Harvard, and one from the University of Miami.
Georgia Institute of Technology: "Breaking the Fourth Wall" is an integrated, mixed-use assortment of social spaces to help Atlantans embrace its vibrant public realm.
Harvard University: "ConvergeATL" weaves together a hybrid-urban landscape that increases value for all real estate blocks in Midtown Atlanta by integrating the disparate city blocks separated by The Connector.
Harvard University: "The Midtown Beat" weaves together a strategy for the redevelopment of Midtown that capitalizes on some of the district’s innovation, culture, and health.
University of Miami: "The Matrix" is a mixed-use development program named to reflect Midtown’s role as Atlanta’s lead district in technological advancements.
For more information on each project, click the link to explore the submissions in depth. Then let us know which proposal you think is best in the comment section. When the four teams come to Atlanta to present their designs in the spring, we'll be sure to update you on what the expert panelists think of the designs!