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Department of Landscape Architecture and Regional & Community Planning

Students use teamwork, determination to win international award

ULI Board

Students from the Department of Landscape Architecture and Regional & Community Planning, won the Gerald D. Hines Competition in spring 2013 for their project, The Armory. The team competed against 149 teams from 70 universities in the United States and Canada to develop a solution for a site in Minneapolis, Minn., by the downtown east neighborhood near the new Minnesota Vikings stadium. The prize was captured through collaboration, strong work ethic and a great design.

Kevin Cunningham, then a fifth-year student in the program, initiated the 2013 team’s formation. Academic support and highly motivated team members brought the final team together. Team members included Kevin Cunningham, Kylie Harper and Derek Hoetmer, all who were completing their final year of study in landscape architecture at Students use teamwork, determination to win international award K-State. Other team members included Lauren Brown, architecture student at the University of Kansas, and Tyler Knott, real estate student at the University of Missouri, Kansas City. Jason Brody, assistant professor of regional and community planning, was the team’s advisor.

“I put our students in touch with their teammates at UMKC and KU and helped connect them to a deep bench of critics on campus and in Kansas City,” Brody said. “One of the students said the team was like a sweater — when they started to unravel I helped them knit themselves back together. But they created the design on their own. I got to enjoy watching them put it together.”

The team worked countless hours leading up to the competition, including an estimated 200 hours within a two-week time period for the initial phase. After being named one of the four finalist teams, the team had a month to revise and expand their submission before traveling to Minneapolis to present their final project. In Minneapolis, the Kansas team was joined by students from Harvard, Yale, Purdue and Ball State.

“Day five of the first phase was by far the worst,” Cunningham said. “We had a critique with several professors and it was long and exhausting. We felt so defeated; it wasn’t a cheerful dinner afterward. But later that night we figured some things out and stayed up until 4 a.m. until we got our phasing plan done, it was a major sense of accomplishment to rebound after a day like that.”

Each team member commended the project’s smooth completion and the balance between their individual and team roles. Through the hard work the group created memorable moments, including a theme song to keep moral high.

“My favorite moment was when Kevin and Derek came to my studio desk to tell me that we had made it to the final round of the competition,” Harper said. “Instead of just telling me, they requested that I go to YouTube and play the theme song from the movie, ‘The Dark Knight Rises.’ That song continued to be our theme song throughout the final round of the competition.”

Since winning the ULI competition, K-State members have graduated and landed positions throughout the country.

“It definitely opened more opportunities for all of us on the team,” Cunningham said. “Many meaningful relationships were created through the competition and it was a solid transition into life after school.”

Cunningham now works at Sasaki Associates in Boston, Mass., as a landscape architect. His current projects include working on campus master plans at Georgetown University and Louisiana Tech University, as well as built work at University of Massachusetts, Boston. Harper is a landscape designer at DHM Design in Denver, Colo., where she has worked on projects for the National Park Service. Hoetmer currently works as a landscape/urban designer at Walker l Macy, a landscape architecture firm based in Portland, Ore.

The momentum of The Armory project not only continues to help team members in their professional lives, it has also continued to receive excellent reviews and awards. This past fall the team was honored with an American Society of Landscape Architects Honor Award for General Design for The Armory project.

“The ULI was as much of a personal win as it was a testament to our program,” Hoetmer said. “It felt great to put K-State in the limelight and the ASLA award was the cherry on top. We know whatever momentum generated will not be lost. K-State has one of the best colleges in the country and it will continue that tradition.”