We told you earlier this week about how much time and how many trips to Manhattan, Kan., KU architecture student Lauren Brown put into her preparation for a prestigious national urban design competition. Well, that work has now paid off handsomely: Brown and her teammates from Kansas State University and the University of Missouri-Kansas City took home the $50,000 prize yesterday, beating teams from Harvard and Yale. They beat out 148 other teams from around the country, in all.
I caught Brown on the phone just now as she waited in the airport in Minneapolis, Minn., where the final presentations for the Urban Land Institute's Gerald D. Hines Student Urban Design Competition happened on Thursday.
"It was pretty nerve-wracking and pretty tense," Brown said, "but it was also fantastic."
Her team made a 25-minute presentation on their plans for reviving a downtown Minneapolis neighborhood to some judges early Thursday morning, and then took 20 minutes of questions. Then the students had to wait around until mid-afternoon while the other three finalists presented and the jury deliberated.
Then all four teams gathered in a room together for what sounds like the conclusion of a reality show episode. While everyone awaited the announcement of a winner, the judges spoke glowingly about the strengths of each of their plans. And then they went over each of the plans' flaws, piece by piece. I imagine that the background music shifted abruptly from bright and cheerful to dark and ominous.
"We were thinking in all of our heads, we blew it," Brown said. But then, at long last, the announcement came, and they were the winners. The Harvard and Yale teams were quite pleasant, she said, and they all spent a night on the town together afterward.
"They were fantastic people," she said.
Now she'll finally be back in Lawrence full-time for the first time in months, with just a few weeks to go to finish up her five-year Master of Architecture program in KU's School of Architecture, Design and Planning. She said she wanted to thank her advisers and classmates at KU and KSU for their support.
And I would like to thank you, Heard on the Hill readers, for your support, while also asking you to please kick it up a notch by sending your KU news tips to firstname.lastname@example.org.