Competition Title Poster

Congratulations to all of the teams that participated in the Urban Ideas Competition on a job well done! The fourth annual event drew more than 600 attendees from across the region and featured mobile workshops, keynote sessions, panels and incredible networking opportunities.

The ULI Carolinas district councils invite teams of architects, landscape architects, designers, planners, artists, students, and members of the real estate development community to submit visionary proposals for redevelopment of a pre-selected site in Charlotte ahead of the 2017 Carolinas’ Meeting (also held in Charlotte). The goal of the competition is to surface innovative ideas and practical solutions in design and development that can positively impact the impending transformation of this community and its built environment.

A team of eight DCRP students participated in the ULI Urban Ideas Competition this past February and received an honorable mention for their work at the 2017 Carolinas’ Meeting. The competition called for visionary proposals for the redevelopment of a 45 acre site located on the LYNX Blue Line Extension in Charlotte, NC. The goal of the competition was to surface innovative ideas and practical solutions in design and development that can positively impact the impending transformation of the community and its built environment. 

The DCRP team was among 10 student and professional teams and was the only student team to receive an award.

Brian Vaughn
 – UNC Department of City & Regional Planning (Student)
Sarah Parkins
 – UNC Department of City & Regional Planning (Student)
Sen Wang
 – UNC Department of City & Regional Planning (Student)
Christopher Bendix
 – UNC Department of City & Regional Planning (Student)
Katy Lang
 – UNC Department of City & Regional Planning (Student)
Gloria Liu
 – UNC Department of City & Regional Planning (Student)
Jenna Shouse
 – UNC Department of City & Regional Planning (Student)
Margaret Tartala
 – UNC Department of City & Regional Planning (Student)



The nearly 45-acre site is located on the LYNX Blue Line Extension currently under construction in the University City area of Charlotte. Once a declining edge city dominated by suburban development patterns centered on UNC Charlotte, the delivery of the LYNX Blue Line is bringing new investment to the area in anticipation of its opening in the third quarter of 2017. The greenfield site offers significant development opportunities across N. Tryon Street from the University City Boulevard Station, which includes a 1,200-space parking deck featuring 7,000 square feet of ground-floor retail. UNC-Charlotte is located 2 miles north and Uptown Charlotte is located 6 miles south, both connected to the transit line.


Conceptual Statement

We envision Open at University City Boulevard Station as a cooperative community that inspires curiosity and fosters vitality. Open surpasses the conventional urban village trend, creating an urban community that supports the full spectrum of healthy living: exercise, nourishment, learning, growth, and the human need for connection.

Open welcomes light rail riders, residents, and visitors by providing accessibility for pedestrians, cyclists, and cars. A pedestrian boulevard across from the University City Boulevard Light Rail station entices passersby into a bustling commercial, retail, dining, and incubator district. Bike path connections south of the site connect existing neighborhoods, and vehicles can enter Open via the planned signalized intersection at N. Tryon Street.  Open’s blocks are short and there are sidewalks on every street, generous bike facilities, and raised crosswalks.

Entering Open from the southwest, 3-5 stories of mixed-use office and commercial space provide a home for business and support the economic health of the area. Across the street to the northwest is a unique, cooperative quad space consisting of 2-4 story buildings oriented around spacious central courtyards. These buildings are intentionally designed for flexibility, providing a collaborative atmosphere for office tenants, ample street-frontage and private courtyard space for retail tenants, and amenity-rich urban residences with intimate outdoor space. The values of cooperation and
curiosity are embodied through small business and restaurant incubators. The buildings, including the nearby civic center and events building to the northeast, can be programmed as community needs change.

The centerpiece of Open is a bold 140,000-sq.ft. urban park. This park promotes physical activity and adventure for children, youth, adults, and elderly community members through a mix of programming: bike paths, informal green spaces, bouldering walls, a community garden, basketball courts, tennis court, and a dog park. Healthy food and community converge at the co-op grocery and lawn adjacent to the urban park. The co-op stocks traditional inventory, sells produce from the community garden, and gives residents and local businesses a chance to “buy-in” and give back to the community. The lawn has room for outside dining and relaxing, and an amphitheater along the streambed slope creates a unique, energized event space. Families coexist in the University City Boulevard station area with a growing student population. Open meets the needs of these populations with semi-detached row homes that support the “missing middle” of housing along the Charlotte Light Rail, maximizing land use efficiency near transit while providing a desirable product for young families, empty-nesters, and anyone seeking to live in an affordable, healthy, and amenity-rich community. Twenty-five percent of these homes are designated affordable, providing living options for workers employed by nearby UNC-Charlotte and other local businesses. Natural features are prominent: a bike path runs along the stream and mature trees provide shade, views, and a respite from the built environment. Green infrastructure is used throughout, including impervious surfaces like permeable pavers in the courtyards, green roofs on the co-op grocery and incubator district, rain gardens for stormwater management, and solar panels to capture the site’s southern exposure.


OPEN – At University City Boulevard Station

View detailed submission
Includes: Conceptual Statement, Guiding Principles, Station Area Demographic Analysis, Site Context, Site Plan, Land Use Plan, Sustainability Plan, Site Program, View for Light Rail Station, Pedestrian Boulevard, Mixed-Use Incubator Quads, Urban Park, The Lawn, Neighborhood

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