Funding shortfalls are common among cities, as this year’s municipal elections have shown. While many governments are turning to public-private partnerships to fund expensive projects, they also work with community organizations, social enterprises, and non-profit groups to implement projects and run programs such as affordable housing for seniors and job placement services for youth. Crowdfunding could represent another aspect of cost-sharing that municipalities could use to help pay for services and projects that have strong support of municipal staff and the public. I’ve written before about participatory budgeting in Vancouver, Calgary, Guelph, and Toronto and posted last month about a crowdfunded bus proposal originating in Toronto’s Liberty Village.

RaiseanArm.org is a civic crowdfunding website created by Abdullah Mayo and the Hamilton Stewardship Council to give the public more of a say in public spending. Building on crowdsourced models common among start-ups and entrepreneurs which allow innovative ideas to find funding from many small donors online, the website aims to allow citizens to suggest ideas for the city. Spacehive in the UK, the world’s first civic crowdfunding site, currently has 359 projects such as recreation facilities, public art, and building restoration projects–50 are now fully funded. Citizeninvestor in the US features projects from $2,500 bike rack installations or tree planting all the way up to $200,000 public parks.

RaiseanArm has worked with the City of Hamilton to investigate the feasibility and legalities of crowdfunding in Ontario. RaiseanArm staff will bring ideas to the City to find out if the project is feasible or already being done in the Hamilton. If the idea were approved by the City, the project would be posted in the website and citizens would be able to pledge financial support or volunteer their services to get the project completed. While Mayo is excited to begin with local projects, he would like to gather support from across Canada and eventually expand to projects across the country.

According to the 2014 Home Location Preference Survey, conducted in the Toronto area by Environics for RBC and the Pembina Institute, 81% of home buyers would prefer more walkable, transit-oriented housing. The survey builds on an earlier version (2012) exploring the same issues.

Not surprisingly, seniors and the 18-35 demographic were most likely to prefer these types of locations–they are also the most likely to take public transit. And increasingly, these are the groups that developers should care about; the size of the families-with-children age cohort, the traditional market for suburban, single-family housing, has been decreasing for some time now. One of the report’s more surprising findings was that even among those with three or more children, 60% said they would trade off a larger house in a suburban location for rapid transit, walkability, and a smaller house.

Affordability plays a major role in housing decisions–82% of respondents say that they live where they do because that’s what they could afford, and 45% said affordability affected their choice “a lot”. When respondents were told that they could save $200,000 over the cost of a 25-year mortgage by giving up one car, 60% said they would choose to live within access of transit even if it meant a smaller home. The survey adds to a considerable body of literature demonstrating how much latent demand exists for transit-accessible housing (check out this one from Canberra, Australia and this one from Southern California). Now if only developers, municipal councillors, and lending institutions could get on board…well, maybe RBC can lead the way.

The survey was conducted in May with 1,014 respondents in the Toronto area. You can download the full report on Pembina’s website here.

crosstownroutemapThe Province of Ontario will issue green bonds to help raise money for construction of the Eglington Crosstown LRT, making it apparently the first government in Canada to use such a funding tool to pay for infrastructure. Premier Kathleen Wynne mentioned green bonds as a possible funding mechanism in her spring campaign.

Green bonds were pioneered by the World Bank in 2008 and can be issued for a specific project, a combination of projects, or to contribute to a fund for interrelated green investments (e.g. water treatment facilities using green technologies). The Economist reported in July 2014 that over $3 billion in green bonds were sold in 2012, skyrocketing to almost $20 billion in the first half of 2014. Although this is still only a fraction of the bond market, The Economist noted that “compared with most streams of income for environmental purposes, it is huge” and that the green bond market “appeared out of nowhere”.

The Ontario green bond program will be used to fund a range of sustainable projects across the province:

  • public transit
  • clean energy
  • energy efficiency and conservation
  • forestry, agriculture and land management
  • climate adaptation

 

The Eglington Crosstown, part of Metrolinx’ 25-year, $50 billion strategic plan The Big Move, is expected to be finished in 2020 at a total cost of $5.3 million. About $500 million is expected to be raised through green bonds.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA bike_lanes.jpg.size.xxlarge.promoThe City of Toronto officially opened separated bike lanes on Sherbourne Street in June 2013. Six months later, The Grid examined the success of the lanes and found that several barriers still existed for cyclists: the curb separating the lanes from traffic could be easily driven over, and cars and delivery trucks routinely blocked the lanes despite the threat of a $150 fine. Conflicts with pedestrians and right-hand turning cars were also an issue.

But today’s news yielded different views. The Toronto Star reported that since opening, the number of cyclists using Sherbourne Street has tripled to an average of 2827 daily, up from an average of 955 daily in 2011. Even after subtracting the 800 daily riders who may have switched from Jarvis Street since its lanes there were removed, that’s still double the riders on Sherbourne post-lane separation.

Cycle Toronto, which advocates safe cycling as an essential part of a sustainable transportation network, would like all the mayoral candidates to commit to building 100 km of separated bike lanes on larger streets (like Eglington, Richmond, and Adelaide) and 100 km of designated lanes on smaller residential roads. They would like to see Toronto’s cycling mode share increase from 1.7% to 5% by 2016.

If transit were a soft drink, it might adopt the slogan, “Transit: The Choice of a New Generation”. Evidence continues to lend support to the idea that young people in Canada and the US choose to take public transit rather than drive.

In Vancouver, the Insurance Corporation of British Columbia (ICBC) reports a significant decline in driver’s licences among 20-24 year olds, from 70% in 2004 to just 55% in 2013. For 25-29 year olds, the rate decreased from 77% in 2004 to 67% in 2013. The only increase in the licensing rate was among older adults.

The greatest declines were seen in the municipalities that are the most urbanized and served by a substantial level of public transit…Burnaby and New Westminster’s proportion declined from 68 per cent to 50 per cent, likely due in part to the increased accessibility to transit following the construction of the Millennium Line. Richmond also saw a similar drop of nearly 20 per cent from 2003. Metro Vancouver’s data shows that the biggest year-to-year drop for both Vancouver and Richmond was in 2009 when the Canada Line opened for service. –Kenneth Chan, VanCity Buzz

A survey released recently by the The Rockefeller Foundation and Transportation for America surveyed 18-30 year olds in ten major US cities found that 4 out of 5 wanted to live in places with a variety of transportation options. More than half (54%) said they would consider moving to another city if it had better options for getting around, and two-thirds said they access to high-quality transportation is one of the top three criteria in deciding where to live next. But transportation mismatch is prevalent in cities like Nashville, where 54% said they would like to live in areas where people have alternative transportation options to the car, but only 6% lived in such areas. In the US, the millenials (those born from 1982-2003) are the largest generation in history, which is why the study focused on this group. Click here for the survey’s topline results.

Interestingly, the travel demands of youth and young adults will be more aligned to those of older adults in the future. Jennifer Wallace-Brodeur of Planners Web reports that 21% of the over-65 population in the US do not drive. Many planners advocate complete streets, transit-oriented development, and volunteer drivers in rural areas in response to the problems faced by an aging population who can no longer drive. So planners interested in providing alternative transportation solutions will be able to develop solutions that work for both the young and the young at heart.

Cycling is growing in popularity every year, even in North America, where road engineering standards are often bike-unfriendly. Even in New York City, where residents fought hard against Janette Sadik-Khan’s bike lane proposals six years ago, 66% of residents surveyed by the New York Times now feel that bike lanes are a good idea.

As most of you know, I’ve recently relocated to Amsterdam. Among the red tape and endless legwork that go along with an international move, I’ve had some time to observe the workings of this famously bike-friendly city. In the process of riding my rusted-out beater bike to and from work, I’ve picked up a few tips on cycling in Amsterdam:

  1. Separated bike lanes and dedicated traffic signals make it a lot safer to bike in Amsterdam–that is, you’re unlikely to be hit by a car. Hence no cyclist (including the infant riding in the seat on the front of the bike) wears a helmet.
  2. While you won’t be hit by a car, your odds of getting sideswiped by the scooters and motorcycle driving at 60km/h in your 1.5m-wide bike lane are pretty good. Remember the driving school tip on checking your blind spot before changing lanes in a car? Ditto–you need to look about 6 inches over your shoulder before turning.
  3. There is a code of conduct among Amsterdam cyclists, e.g. occasionally giving a hand signal to indicate left turns, venturing slowly across a road if cars are nearby, timing your entry to a bike lane to merge with the 25 other cyclists.
  4. The code of conduct is very loose; cyclists are often quite aggressive, especially when it comes to allowing pedestrians to cross the street. Most near-collisions I’ve seen have occurred between bikes and scooters or bikes and pedestrians.
  5. It’s clear where the priorities lie–cycling paths are rarely obstructed by parked cars, garbage cans, or planters, but sidewalks often are.
  6. Locking your bike to a rack is optional–more commonly, the back wheel is merely locked to the frame. Bikes generally stand freely in any area of the sidewalk or square, blowing over in daily wind or rainstorms, and blocking sidewalks.
  7. Helpful bike route signs direct cyclists as they move about the city–assuming you know enough of  the city’s geography to know you’re supposed to cycle in the direction of Osdorp or Station Zuid or Oosterpark.
  8. The typical Amsterdam bike is black, rusty, and mono-gear with fenders and a chain guard. Bright colours are an advertisement: please steal my bike.
  9. Doubling your boyfriend on the back rack or carrying your large-breed dog in the front (I hesitate to call it a ‘basket’ when ‘milk crate’ would suffice) are commonplace during a weekday commute.
  10. An Amsterdam cyclist can perform any activity while biking: smoking, talking on a cell phone, eating a sandwich, unpacking a messenger bag, dragging a suitcase along beside them.

The city is built for reluctant cyclists like me: as one British expat told us, “The Dutch just bike to get around. They don’t necessarily enjoy it.” In a city that seems custom-built for bikes, it’s definitely the quickest and easiest way to commute, provided you have the guts to battle the scooters and motorbikes and the ability to duck quickly under an awning during sudden rain showers–as the Dutch do. Amsterdam cyclists don’t bike for fitness (smoking while biking?) As a Polish expat noted, “When I first came here and saw people biking in suits, and the women in high heels, it was as if they were going to the gym in a suit or heels. At home, biking is only associated with fitness.” With very good bus and tram service in the city (although the Dutch would disagree on this point), I suspect the major appeal of cycling in the Netherlands is its cost-effectiveness…it’s a thrifty culture!

Toronto Mayor Rob Ford was elected last fall on a promise to “trim the fat from City Hall”. Easier said than done, as Royson James of the Toronto Star reports (“Rob Ford’s gravy train running on fumes”, July 12, 2011). The Mayor commissioned internationally-reknowned consultants KPMG to review the city’s expenses and determine what services could be cut. The results were far from surprising: in the public works and infrastructure department, the City could save money by:

  • keeping blue boxes out of apartments and condos
  • reducing snow clearing, grass cutting and street sweeping
  • ending fluoridation of Toronto’s drinking water

 

And that’s it…in fact, the City of Toronto considers each of these options regularly and has decided time and time again not to implement them because they’re political powderkegs. KPMG wrote that 97% of the City of Toronto’s expenses in the public works and infrastructure department were core municipal services. G. Michael Warren, in a Toronto Star editorial (“Ford Nation’s grim future”, July 6, 2011), outlines the reasons why the inner suburban “economically challenged members of the Ford Nation”, who depend heavily on city services, are the most likely to suffer from service decreases. I’m pretty sure cutting back on snow clearing isn’t an option: the 1999 “Snowmageddon” storm dumped 118 centimetres of snow on Toronto and Mayor Mel Lastman was forced to call in the army to clear 5000 km of roads. Another major storm hit Toronto this January.

Seven more reports on the city departments, efficiencies and room for “fat trimming” will be released shortly.

The Mayor has made headlines recently for voting against six wildly popular community grants (he was defeated 43-1 on the first four programs, 42-2 on the fifth, and 41-3 on the sixth). He ruffled feathers by refusing to attend Toronto’s Pride Parade. After Ford shut down Transit City, the Province of Ontario even blames “municipalities like Toronto and politicians like Rob Ford”  for traffic gridlock (“Fed up with traffic gridlock? Not our fault, Liberals say”Toronto Star July 12, 2011). Rookie councillor Kristyn Wong-Tam, citing “the current administration”, recently commissioned a private-sector revitalization plan for Yonge Street. Although she agrees that it could set a dangerous precedent, there was no way a new plan would have been approved in the current mood of fiscal restraint.

Many of you (hundreds, in fact) have been following my posts about the new SCARP/SALA building. As you know, Shape Architecture/FeildenCleggBradley Studios (architects) and PWL Partnership (landscape architects) will be producing a feasibility study and the anticipated full design for the UBC Integrated Planning and Design Facility. Andrew Harrison (DEGW), a leading expert in learning environments, and Atelier 10 are also involved. In addition to the public events planned this semester, an IPD Working Group has been created with the design team and representatives from all the stakeholders: SCARP Masters students, PhD students and faculty; SALA Masters students and faculty; UBC Properties Trust, Buildings Operations, Campus and Community Planning and Infrastructure Development; the Belkin Art Gallery, Applied Science, and the Faculty of Arts. I am a PhD rep, with fellow SCARP students Rohit Mujumdar (PhD), Erica Lay (Masters) and Jessie Singer (Masters), so I have an inside view into this stage of the design process. I’ll be providing regular updates on this after the three “event weeks” that are planned: Learning Landscapes (Jan 14th), Spaces for Learning (Feb 11), and Low Energy Landscapes (March 25).

Each Event Week begins with a kickoff event in a social environment, then there is a public lecture on campus, and an all-day IPD Working Group workshop. This week was focused on Learning Landscapes.

The kick-off event was held downtown and got a great turnout. The public lecture featured presentations by Andrew Harrison and Peter Clegg, and short segués by Nick Sully and Alec Smith from Shape, and Derek Lee from PWL. Andrew’s presentation did a great job of showing different types of learning environments at universities and colleges: from specialized spaces (science labs, workshops, computer labs) to general use spaces (student lounge, reading room, café). Even hallways can be designed to facilitate conversation and collaboration (he called them “learning corridors”). I’m hoping Andrew will make his presentation available online so you can all see it.

The Working Group meets every two weeks, including the workshops each month during the Event Weeks. For this first workshop, we were asked to consider questions such as “How does a changing studio culture within architecture resonate with SCARP and the Arts?” and “How much time do students/faculty spend teaching/researching/writing/drawing/discussing ideas?” We were asked to submit images that represented the culture of learning in our programs. Then at the workshop, we discussed these ideas in more depth, both in large-group and small-group conversations. The five images shown on the right were provided by the SCARP Masters reps. (Outside of the IPD Working Group, SCARP is running a Directed Studies class, which will be meeting regularly with the design team to discuss their ideas. The students organized a survey, held a visioning workshop and presented the responses to the survey in the format of images to the Working Group.) The text images (general, specialized, and informal learning spaces) were produced with Wordle, which allows you to represent the number of times each word/concept was raised by font size (similar to my website’s “tag cloud” on the right).

It was really interesting to hear from the UBC folks as well as those in the adjacent arts buildings (Music in particular). Some ideas that were discussed were the switch from hand-drawing to digital work in architecture, the need for more social space to discuss ideas, the need for a shift in educational approaches, and the possibilities for shared infrastructure (like photocopying/printing space). Another interesting idea was having faculty offices closely aligned to the student workspaces: Larry Frank from SCARP said he’d like his office to be closer to the transportation modelling lab and also students who use the space. Peter Clegg told us about his virtually paperless office in Bath, where there are no drawing tables at all because everything is done digitally. Scott Watson, curator of the Belkin Art Gallery, raised the idea of having informal exhibition space available in the studios so that students could look at each other’s work as it progressed, and we discussed the idea of “open studio week” where students would host visitors from the broader campus and community.

However, as a research-based program, I still feel that SCARP’s needs are not being addressed: Peter actually admitted that we needed to tell him what we meant by research. SCARP Director Penny Gurstein and Larry Frank both raised the issue of research space, but all of us still felt the issue needed to be further discussed. Larry’s definition of a studio was a good fit for SCARP (a space where people learn in a collaborative way), and the studio culture is changing so much anyway: no need for glassed-in spaces when everyone works on computers. When I said that most SCARP students would graduate without ever drawing anything, Peter asked if that was okay. I think it is, but then I may be biased because I already have those skills from my undergrad in landscape architecture. I should have asked if it’s okay that SALA students graduate without knowing participatory planning or municipal planning processes? We have a lot to learn from each other: many SCARP students would like to learn how to draw, read plans and understand design terminology, and likewise I think SALA students would like to learn about how to build the structures and landscapes they want within the current planning framework and processes. I also think SCARP students could learn how to represent written work in a visual format through diagramming, short film/animations, and the like; and as a former landscape architecture student myself, I imagine that the SALA students could benefit from more attention to their research and writing skills.

Another alarming comment: when Leslie Van Duzer, Director of SALA, discussed the three areas used in assessing faculty for tenure (teaching, research and service), one of the SHAPE architects asked what service was. Now this could just be a terminology issue, but it’s also possible that SALA does a lot less community service than SCARP. Both Larry and Leslie raised the need for specific spaces that could be used for community meetings and to welcome visitors to the new building. Of course service means more than that (participation in groups such as the IPD Working Group or on committees/councils for your professional association are also service activities), but I get the sense that because architecture isn’t a field where all the faculty are PhD-holders with tenure-track positions, there’s a weak understanding of both research and service.

At the end of Event Week 1, I’m cautiously optimistic about the IPD design process. There seems to be a great deal of interest from all the stakeholders and the public, people are raising many innovative ideas and willing to collaborate with each other, and there’s a general feeling of trust among the various players. But there are definitely some issues that need to be worked out: a better understanding of SCARP’s teaching and learning processes, a governance model for the new building (considering that SCARP and SALA are under two different administrative units), and the issues of research and service. It’s also unclear how much these workshops will influence the design: how will the design team use our ideas and responses to their thought-provoking questions? Planning students and faculty will continue to watch the process closely, since “that’s what planners do.”

If you’re interested in keeping up with the IPD process, or giving the design team feedback on any element of the process so far, go to ubcipd.wordpress.com. The site has photos from the events, news from the design team, and details on upcoming public lectures. Here’s the current list, but any changes would be listed on the website.

Event Week 2: Space for Learning

Public Kick-off Event February 11, 2011 5:30-6:00 pm Lasserre Lobby

Public Lecture February 21, 2011 6:30-7:45 pm Math 100

Working Committee Workshop February 22, 2011 8:30-4:30 pm Liu Centre Multipurpose Room

Event Week 3: Low Energy Landscapes

Public Kick-off Event March 25, 2011 5:30-6:00 pm Lasserre Lobby

Public Lecture March 28, 2011 6:30-7:45 pm Math 100

Working Committee Workshop March 29, 2011 8:30-4:30 pm Liu Centre Multipurpose Room

UBC just issued a press release announcing the winning architectural team for the new SCARP/SALA building. I’m happy to announce that the joint venture of Shape Architecture/FeildenCleggBradley Studios (architects) and PWL Partnership (landscape architects) will be producing a feasibility study and the anticipated full design for the UBC Integrated Planning and Design Facility. Joining the core design team is Andrew Harrison (DEGW), a leading expert in learning environments as well as Atelier 10, consultants in sustainable design. SCARP students will be watching the new team, anticipating their plans to involve faculty, staff, and students in the design process. This was one of the strengths of the winning team’s presentation.

Thanks to our Director Penny Gurstein and Assistant Professor Maged Senbel, SCARP faculty members who have been very involved in this process, and also to the many SCARP and SALA students that got involved in the process, met as committees, and voiced their opinions on what kinds of spaces we wanted to create in the new building. Several landscape architecture students were particularly active in the process and I think inspired a few of us SCARP students to participate more. It’s so rare that my predictions are accurate, and even more rare that the best team actually wins. All you SCARPies out there, come and help us celebrate tomorrow night at the Museum of Vancouver.

On a side note, my two earlier blog posts about our new building generated an unexpected level of interest: over a hundred and fifty of you read them! The second post broke my all-time record for the most views in a single day, with 72 views. Thanks for visiting, and come back again for more planning, urban design, and urban development miscellany.

As I wrote in my last post, SCARP and SALA are currently choosing an integrated design team for our new building, an addition to the existing Lasserre building at UBC. Two teams presented last week, and two this week. The winning team will be announced October 20th. Since we were encouraged to send along our comments on the presentations to the committee who will be choosing the best of the four teams, I thought it might be worthwhile to discuss them here.

The four short-listed teams were follows:

Here are the videos for these presentations online: Week 1 (Patkau and Teeple) and Week 2 (Shape and OMA).

I’m sure that Patkau did think about how classroom space, lecture spaces, and offices would be designed compared to studio spaces, because they had diagrams showing the breakdown of program space in the new building. However, it was not clear from their presentation how they planned to differentiate these types of spaces and functions. I was alarmed by their use of the Harvard Graduate School of Design as an example of “good” studio design. Having visited the GSD, I felt that the student spaces were cold and mechanistic, and sound control in this space is not great. The other examples Patkau showed (like the Winnipeg Public Library) were all basically glass boxes. Obviously, in Vancouver it would be great to use as much natural light as possible, but sound controls are going to be an issue. Likewise, they did use students’ quotes and work in their presentation, but it was not clear how they might involve students in the design process. Moreover, the landscape design was still too embryonic to figure out at this point, and do we really want to bring the focus of the building inward, like every other modernist building on campus? Why not address the street (either one) and create a space that can actually be used during the (rainy) school year?

Teeple went a little further in their approach. They did show some specific examples of small-scale student spaces (at Langara, SFU, MacMillan, the Stephen Hawking Institute), perhaps because Proscenium focuses on interiors. While Patkau talked about the need for social spaces, Teeple actually showed examples of comfortable smaller student lounges and work spaces. As a landscape architect I will add that since the proposed SCARP/SALA building aspires to be a green building, it is a huge coup having Cornelia Oberlander as the landscape architect on their team. She was designing sustainable landscapes way before they were trendy, and has decades of experience understanding site, microclimate, and people’s use of space, which will be crucial in the design of the open spaces and axes that will anchor the new building. Although the team didn’t let her speak much, Cornelia is very careful about working with architects who will allow her to play a major role in the overall building design.

I definitely felt that Shape and FieldenCleggBradley have the necessary experience, collaboration with each other, and the most interesting proposal. In particular, I felt that their presentation style was indicative of the close working partnership the team has: each spoke for an equal amount of time, each spoke highly of the other team members, and each fielded questions in their areas of expertise. I felt that the landscape architects, with their local UBC experience in participatory process, was also a major strength. They seemed to “get” the idea of collaboration, combining these three different areas of study in both the building itself and the building process. I also liked the projects highlighting their use of artificial light made to look natural, as this will likely be needed in the rainy, dark Vancouver climate. FCB’s experiences in the UK, a very similar climate to ours, will be very useful in terms of the building’s design, lighting, and materials. Teeple was the only other team that convinced me that they would design interesting, functional, and well-designed smaller spaces within the SCARP/SALA building. These two teams were the strongest in terms of their commitment to the overall design: landscape, relationship to existing buildings on the site, the building itself, and its interior spaces.

As expected, OMA’s approach to “iconic” architecture was troublesome and problematic for our site and building, since it is a small addition, rather than a brand-new structure. Ultimately, we don’t want form over function. In terms of function, although they were the only ones to offer a glimpse of how the interior space might be broken down, the hierarchies emerge: the majority of the space was designated as studios, and the highest floors and best views as private offices. Even though the firm supposedly does landscape architecture as well as architecture, their proposal was particularly weak in the interaction of the building with the site: the weakest of all the groups. I don’t even remember OMA mentioning the name of the landscape architecture firm they would be working with, which I think says a lot about their attitude towards their collaborators. I feel that they are still working in the modernist-brutalist tradition, and frankly UBC has enough giant, bland glass and concrete buildings and vast empty open plazas already.

In general, I felt that Patkau, Teeple and OMA were overwhelmed by the concept of designing a design school, and spent way too much time claiming they were going to build something that would put Vancouver on the map. We need well-designed, functional spaces for students and faculty. It would be nice if the building was also innovative, but I would leave that to the sustainability features rather than the mere design characteristics. Star-chitecture is not always great design, and in most cases the interaction of these buildings with their surroundings is jarring, not to mention their impact on the pedestrian realm. I still think that all three of these teams think they’re designing an architecture building, and while several have designed research-based buildings before, they don’t consider this to be a research facility, since SALA students don’t do the type of social science research we do at SCARP. I think this is problematic since about 80% of SCARP students are in streams other than urban design, and will not be working in studio-type settings. This is partly why the Shape team is the strongest: they had a more developed design process and seemed to anticipate the difficulties of designing a building that would house three different programs with different needs. OMA emerges as the weakest not only because their previous work highlights their modernist attitude towards design and collaboration, but also a lack of interest in participatory processes; all three of the other teams mentioned specific steps they would take to involve students and faculty at all three programs (particularly Shape, who had very specific events planned to involve the public in the design process).

Of course, we see only the public presentations. The committee responsible for choosing the winning team (made up of faculty and students in all three programs) started by interviewing 23 teams and shortlisting these four, who were also interviewed in depth after their presentations. It will be interesting to see which emerges as the winner come October 20th.