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These Are The Four Finalists of the ULI Hines Competition

Way back at the beginning of the year, the Urban Land Institute announced that they'd chosen NOLA for their Hines Competition — an urban planning contest that pits teams of grad students against each other in a bid to transform the faux North Claiborne Neighborhood Improvement Association straddling the Lafitte Greenway, burgeoning BioMedical District, and the interstate, and turn it into a real deal neighborhood. Four finalists have been announced and will present their plans in New Orleans on April 9th at a public forum.

Sadly, no New Orleans finalists were named. Representation in this competition is surprisingly east coast, with two teams from Harvard and a group from the University of Maryland making up three of the four finalists. Joint efforts from University of Wisconsin system makes up the final entrant, with students from Milwaukee and Madison coming together to craft the "Quartier Vert."

The Wisconsin proposal is modern and airy, much more akin to the Domain Companies' CBD efforts with the Paramount and other higher end complexes rather than utilizing designs that play on existing architecture. The four phase plan includes loads of outdoor activities and food trucks as well as a mixture of affordable housing and more expensive digs to offset those costs.

The first Harvard proposal, Claiborne Grove, harkens back to the days when the interstate never ran above the main thoroughfare of New Orleans' many historically African American neighborhoods. Harvard is proposing amenities that include business suites and gallery spaces along with a Rouses and its piece de resistance — a salvaged wood canopy that mimics the sweeping trees once in the area.

Harvard's second proposal, Treme 2.0, is decidedly different and surprisingly minimalistic. Residents are slightly more boxed up than free to explore vast expanses of land, instead pushing the proposal in a more metropolitan direction. Three corridors make up Treme 2.0 — the Porch Corridor, which provides services for older residents, the Parlor Corridor, which which is heavily catered towards Millenials, and the Parade, which makes up a series of walkways and sky paths.

Last but not least is the University of Maryland's The Crossing, a multi-faceted project that helps green up Claiborne with actual natural turf for a pedestrian path as well as space for a streetcar line. A bit of tourism is thrown in for revenue, including plays at "authentic New Orleans experiences" in the proposed Resilience Center, a building that includes a museum as well as unique NOLA fare like gutbucket lessons.

Finalists have a month until they present their materials. ULI will then not only name a winner but announce eight honorable mentions. The winning tea gets $50K, $5K of which goes to their school. Runners up receive $10K.

· ULI Announces Final Four for 2015 Hines Competition [Urban Land Institute]
· Urban Land Institute Picks NOLA For Hines Competition [Curbed NOLA]
· Urban Planning [Curbed NOLA]