University of Pennsylvania students win the AECOM Urban SOS design competition

os Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti and AECOM CEO Michael S. Burke present awards Daniel Lau, Joseph Rosenberg and Lindsay Rule.

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti and AECOM CEO Michael S. Burke present awards Daniel Lau, Joseph Rosenberg and Lindsay Rule, graduate design students at the University of Pennsylvania, have won AECOM’s sixth annual Urban SOS competition. Their entry, “The THIRD Reserve,” proposed to create an ambitious new urban landscape to enable the island city-state of Singapore to become self-sufficient in its food production.

The Urban SOS program fosters cross-disciplinary thinking in urban problem-solving and design education while helping to make a real difference for communities in need. The 2015 student competition was co-sponsored by AECOM, Van Alen Institute and 100 Resilient Cities – Pioneered by the Rockefeller Foundation (100RC). This year’s “All Systems Go” theme asked student teams to submit site-specific proposals that solved an urban food or water system challenge in one of the 100 Resilient Cities locations.

After AECOM juries in 20 offices worldwide selected three finalist teams, a master jury of design leaders from AECOM, Van Alen Institute, 100 RC and The Architect’s Newspaper selected the winning entry following a public charrette hosted by the A+D Museum in Los Angeles on Oct. 15.

The winning team received a US$7,500 prize and up to US$25,000 of in-kind staff time to support advancing the project. Awards were presented to the students by Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti and Michael S. Burke, AECOM chairman and chief executive officer.

“Making cities more resilient to change is core to what we do at AECOM,’’ Burke said. “We believe that tomorrow’s cities will require holistic, integrated thinking—like that advanced by UrbanSOS participants in this competition—to prepare for the challenges ahead and to prioritize for the long-term what projects they pursue, develop and fund.’’

“This year’s entries were particularly strong and deep, coming from universities around the world,” noted Bill Hanway, competition chair and AECOM’s global practice leader, architecture. “We commend all of the finalists and all of the entrants for their efforts and innovative thoughts on improving urban communities and their commitment to practice cross-disciplinary design.”

The runner-up team, Bennett Lambert and Elizabeth Reed Yanna from MIT, received a US$5,000 prize for their scheme WATERPOWER in Quito.

Michel Liang from Berkley City College, Sunantana Nuanla-or from Louisiana State University, Pin Udomcharoenchaikit from University of the Aegean, and Jacky Wah from Louisiana State University received a US$2,500 prize for their proposal CANAL SOS in Bangkok.

Urban SOS 2015 Finalist Teams:

– The THIRD Reserve, Singapore | Daniel Lau, Masters of Architecture, University of Pennsylvania, USA; Joseph Rosenberg, Masters of Landscape Architecture, University of Pennsylvania, USA; Lindsay Rule, Masters of Landscape Architecture | Masters of Architecture, University of Pennsylvania, USA

– WATERPOWER, Quito, Ecuador | Bennett Lambert, PhD Civil and Environmental Engineering, MIT, USA; Elizabeth Reed Yarina, Masters of Architecture | Masters of City Planning, MIT, USA

– CanalSOS, Bangkok, Thailand | Michel Liang, Civil Engineering, Berkeley City College, USA; Sunantana Nuanla-or, Masters of Landscape Architecture, Louisiana State University, USA; Pin Udomcharoenchaikit, Masters of Environmental Science, University of Aegean, Greece; Jacky Wah, Bachelors of Landscape Architecture, Louisiana State University, USA

The master jury included: Jerome Chou, Van Alen Institute, director of competitions; Nate Cormier, AECOM, ‎Los Angeles metro director of landscape architecture; Stephen Engblom, AECOM, global director, AECOM Cities; Bill Hanway, AECOM, global architecture leader, global sports leader; Bryna Lipper, 100 Resilient Cities – Pioneered by the Rockefeller Foundation, vice president for relationships; and Mimi Zeiger, critic, editor, and curator.

Find out more at the Urban SOS competition website

Image | Courtesy of AECOM

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Damian Holmes is the Founder and Editor of World Landscape Architecture (WLA). He is a registered landscape architect (AILA) working in international design practice in Australia. Damian founded WLA in 2007 to provide a website for landscape architects written by landscape architects. Connect on Linkedin at