Student Planning & Design Competition

APA Student Planning and Design Competition

About the Program

The APA Urban Design and Preservation Division, Divisions Council, and Student Representatives Council co-sponsor the Annual Student Planning and Design Competition, inviting teams of students pursuing graduate degrees in planning to participate. The competition helps develop the next generation of urban planners and designers by focusing on a significant development site or an area in the National Planning Conference host city and asking them to consider all the steps planners and designers need to take when developing plans and recommendations. Finalists present their proposals to a jury at a public session of the National Planning Conference.

By advocating excellence in planning, promoting education, and citizen empowerment, APA hopes to provide our students with the tools and support necessary to meet the challenges of growth and change.

2024: Seventh Annual Competition Recap

The 2024 Student Planning and Design Competition project site location is the New Nicollet Redevelopment, the former Kmart site in South Minneapolis, MN. This project site covers 10 acres of land between the Midtown Greenway, Lake St, 1st Ave, and Blaisdell Ave.

Read the APA Blog article about the 2024 competition site.

Download the Competition Prompt

Please visit the APA Competition Webpage for further details and timeline.

Review all of the student submissions here.

First Place: Massachusetts Institute of Technology

2024 Competition Results

On April 15, 2024, three student finalist teams presented before a jury at an NPC 24 Minneapolis public session. The Massachusetts Institute of Technology team took first place, followed by the University of Minnesota and the University of Illinois-Chicago. Congratulations to all of the finalists and honorable mentions!


FIRST PLACE: Twin Cities Studios, Massachusetts Institute of Technology


Sofia Belen Chiappero, Hannah Leung, Cale Wagner, Zak Davidson, Mikel Berra Sandin

RUNNER UP: Humphrey School Planning and Design, University of Minnesota

"The Reconnect"

Holly Leaf, Jem Thompson, Greg Olberding, Annika Johnson, Aaron Osowski

FINALIST: Gehm Design Team, University of Illinois-Chicago

"Rooted in Nicollet"

Maggie Eichkhoff, Elizabeth Miller, Grace Li, Haley McDonnell

Honorable Mentions

CP+LA Bears, University of California, Berkeley

"Reclaiming Nicollet: the People and the Place"

Yorangga Arundati, Ana Padilla, Justin Tse, Nicole Yang

Outsiders Placemaking for Empowerment (OPE), University of Michigan

"Playmart: Placemaking. Proximity. Play."

Elyse Cote, Rebecca Griswold, Xuanshu Lin, Aaron Johnson, Allison Yu

2024 Finalist Teams


We thank the following student teams for submitting proposals to the competition. You can view their submissions here.

AC3 Strategies - Columbia University: Chelsea Mullen, Aroosa, Ajani Catharina, Kartika Utami, Claudia Kohn

Appian Way - California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo: Douglas Ridley, Sullivan Israel, Kiana Wong, Radeen Shemirani

B.E.T.R. (Better Equitable Together Resilient) - Portland State University: Ciara Williams, Sam Gallagher, Charles Shoemaker, Miguel Gelin Feirrera

BSU Cardinals - Ball State University: Jose Rodriguez, Trujillo Jasmine, Bajracharya
Atigala Widanalage, Anuska Singh

Cincy BUP - University of Cincinnati: Roan Postitch, Michelle Bellows, Lauralee Thatch

Fresh Coast Development Team - University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee: Jesse Doiron, Tayler Jones, Kyle Nelson, Michelle Smith, Eli Norlander

K-Queens & Kings - Iowa State University: Matthew Reu, Ethan Aamodt, Bryce Pape, Elizabeth Smith

Make Some IlliNOISE - University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign: Adam Walsh, Natalie Crown, Nick Lenz, Tillie Pines

Regreen - New York University: Melody Chen, Yihan Shi, Hanming Jiang

Sustaining Generations - University of Wisconsin-Madison: Lauren Rhodes, Alex DeSena, Jared Smith, Aaron Rooney

Sun Devil Design Team - Arizona State University: Logan Lowery, Jacob Heid, Breanna Fulton, Hannah Johnson, Quinton Burden

The Bulls - University of South Florida: Beneetta Mary Jose, Kristin Combs, Sarah Rose, Isaiah Hollinshead, Amy Garland

The Placemakers - University of Kansas: Zoe Brown, Lexi Berra, Andrea Lync

Tiger Design Group - University of Memphis: Isaac Bacon, Nandita Banik, Uriel Cabanillas-Alvarado, Afsana Tarannum, Nicholas Wardroup

Trifecta - University of Kansas: Raquel Ordoñez, Lauren Young, Payton Smith

Uiowa Hawkeyes - University of Iowa: Benjamin Whisnant, Elizabeth Brackett
Kaylynn Sieverding, Melanie Comer

Walkable Corridor - University of Oklahoma: Tahjiba Tarannum, Judith Anima Ntim, Kalyan Mutukunda


Thanks to the APA volunteers and staff who made this competition possible:

Final Jurors

Mileyka Burgos-Flores, Founding Executive Director of The Allapattah Collaborative, CDC, Miami, FL

Kris Krider, AICP, County Architect and Supervisor for the Urban Design Section with the Arlington County, Virginia Planning Division

Sean M. Maguire, AICP, Executive Director of the Albany County Land Bank Corporation, Albany, NY

Alysia D. Osborne, AICP, Division Manager/Assistant Director, City of Charlotte, NC Planning, Design, and Development Department

Meg McMahan, AICP, Director of Planning for the City of Minneapolis, MN

Initial Jurors

Jamie Arnau, Urban Planner/Engagement at Zan Associates

Aidan Breen, Graduate Research Assistant at the University of Minnesota College of Design

Adrienne Bockheim, AICP, Principal City Planner/Designer at the City of Minneapolis

Stan Clauson, FAICP, ASLA, President/Principal at Stan Clauson Associates, Inc.

Chirag Date, AICP, LEED GA, Project Manager/Senior Urban Designer at Modern Mobility Partners

Robert Duffy, FAICP Planning Director at Arlington County (Retired)

Jason Epley, AICP, President at Benchmark Planning

John Flores, CAPM, Hazard Mitigation and Resilience Planner at ESP Associates

Tom Ford, Principal at M-GROUP

Elise Jones, Economic Development Associate at Greater Fort Wayne Inc.

Craig Lewis, Principal, Architecture+Urbanism Services Director – Placemaking Design at Arcadis

Karl Moritz, Planning Director at the City of Alexandria, VA

Anna Maki, Associate Transportation Planner at Park City Municipal Corporation

Elizabeth Morton, Planning & Design Educator, Consultant and Commissioner

Sakura Namioka, Independent Architecture & Planning Professional

Stefan Pellegrini, Principal and Vice President at Opticos Design, Inc.

DeVon Rogers, Market Research Intern at Doyle Real Estate Advisors

Margarita Saldana, Planning & Design PM at San Antonio River Authority

Alyssa Schaeffer, Assistant Planner at Southwestern Wisconsin Regional Planning Commission

Robert Shibley, SUNY Distinguished Professor, and Rudy Bruner Chair of Urban Excellence

Tim Smith, Planning Manager at the City of Portland

Bailey Wong, Urban and Regional Planning Graduate at California State Polytechnic University-Pomona


Organizing Committee


Marcel Acosta, Division Chair and Executive Director, National Capital Planning Commission, Washington DC

Kris Krider, Division Chair-Elect, County Architect, and Supervisor for the Urban Design Section with the Arlington County, Virginia Planning Division

Chris Rzomp, Chair of the Urban Design Committee and Global Leader of the Cities and Urban Design Practice for Gensler, Washington, DC


Kohl Malo, Immediate Past SRC Chair (2024) and Planner with Renaissance Planning, Washington, DC

Veronica Escalera-Ibarra, Past SRC Chair (2023) and Strategic Planner, VIA Metropolitan Transit, San Antonio, TX

Bianca Mers, SRC Chair (2024) and Senior Analyst with EJP Consulting Group in Philadelphia, PA


Meg Byerly Williams, Ex-Officio Member of the Divisions Council Executive Committee and In-House Counsel, Skeo, Charlottesville, VA


Henry Payne, Student Program Associate

Beatriz Sindac, Student Program Associate (Former)

Felicia Braunstein, Director of Professional Practice


Meg McMahan, Planning Director

Adrienne Bockheim, Principal Planner/Designer

2024 APA Student Planning and Design Competiton


2023 Competition Recap

American Planning Association, Student Design Competition, 2023

New this year is the competition's focus on a community issue in the NPC host city. The attention to student design in these real-life spaces continues APA's ongoing effort to provide leadership in developing vital communities. By advocating excellence in planning, promoting education, and citizen empowerment, APA hopes to provide the tools and support necessary to meet the challenges of growth and change.

The 2023 Competition

Now in its sixth year, the 2023 competition challenges students to create planning and design recommendations in a proposed visioning plan for the Logan Triangle area in Philadelphia’s Upper North District. 

APA Urban Design and Preservation Division (UDP) volunteers reviewed and scored eleven competition team submissions. This initial jury selected three finalists -- Arizona State University, the University of South Florida, and the University of Memphis --  to present to a final jury at the National Planning Conference in Philadelphia.

View the competition brief here, and all student competition submissions here.

Christopher Rzomp, AICP, the Chair of the UDP Division Urban Design Committee and Cities and Urban Design Lead at Gensler, served as a final jury member, along with Eleanor Sharpe, AICP, Executive Director of the Philadelphia City Planning Commission, and Deborah Myerson, AICP, a member of the APA Divisions Council Executive Committee. The final jury selected the winning team after their presentations.

The Arizona State University student team — Deema Abdul Rahman, Leen Elharake, Bryan Leyba,  Kelsey Ouellette, and Sara Pimentel — won the 2023 competition. You can read their winning entry. Congratulations to all competition participants, finalists, and the winner!

Shout Outs

Thank you to the student participants from Kansas State University, University of Kansas, University of Iowa, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Arizona State University, University of South Florida, University of Memphis, and University of California, Los Angeles. 

A special note of appreciation to the UDP Division initial jury for volunteering their time and expertise:

Christopher Rzomp, AICP, Initial Jury Chair; Selina Angel, Designer and Planner for Work5shop, San Antonio; Kris Krider, AICP, UDPD Chair-Elect and Urban Design and Research Supervisor for Arlington County, Virginia; Melissa Lindsjo, AICP, CNU-A, Urban Planner at the National Capital Planning Commission, Washington, DC; Nicole Ozdemir, Senior Planner at the Philadelphia Planning Commission; Hadley Peterson, AICP-C, Project Manager at Radian — Denver; Karin Schierhold, Urban Planner at the National Capital Planning Commission; and Mike Sherman, Director of Policy and Research at the National Capital Planning Commission.

Veronica Ibarra, Past Chair of the APA Student Representatives Council, Meg Williams, Member of the APA Divisions Council Executive Committee, and Marcel Acosta, Chair of the APA Urban Design and Preservation Division, organized the 2023 competition.

For further information, please visit the APA website.