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Urban Land Institute to reveal ‘Best of the Decade’ in smart growth

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The “Best of the Decade” will be revealed Wednesday during the San Diego/Tijuana district council of the Urban Land Institute’s seventh annual Smart Growth Awards event. The competition recognizes projects, plans and people that emulate ULI’s principles.

ULI San Diego/Tijuana is the pre-eminent land use organization in the San Diego region. As the region has evolved from a green field model to one that must rely on infill to accommodate a growing population, employment base and the global economy, it is more important than ever to be thoughtful in creating sustainable land use decisions.

“In the past decade we have come a long way in dispelling the long held belief that ‘the right thing to do’ is too expensive and not consistent with the pragmatics of the development industry,” said ULI San Diego/Tijuana Chairman of the Board Chris Morrow. “Today, leading-edge planning, design and development projects are built around principles of sustainability. Increasingly, smart decisions are made about where and how development occurs that lead to the building of community, the growth of culture and the realization of a healthy environment.”

This year ULI will recognize those projects, policies and people who have, over the past 10 years, sought the right thing to do and have thus reflected the growth of a vision for a sustainable urban future for our region.

Best of the Decade decision makers

The Best of the Decade honorees have been decided by a panel of six distinguished judges. Leaders and visionaries in urban planning, development, architecture and design, the jury includes: Tito Alegría, Michael LeBarre, Rob Wellington Quigley, Oscar Romo, Greg Shannon and Jonathan Segal.

Alegría is a professor of urban planning in the Department of Urban and Environmental Studies in El Colegio de la Frontera Norte, Tijuana, México. He is a member of the Mexican National System of Researchers. His research work is about the urban development in the Mexico-U.S. border, cross-border labor market, urban land uses, socio-residential segregation, urban land regularization and urban integration of foreign immigrants. He has published three books and several academic articles in eight countries.

LaBarre is an architect and urban planner with more than 30 years of experience. His emphasis is on the master planning and design of urban infill mixed-use and transit-oriented development projects. He was the principal in charge of the Uptown District in Hillcrest, a nationally recognized example of urban revitalization and infill development. He also has been responsible for numerous downtown San Diego mixed-use projects, including Park Terrace and the Thomas Jefferson School of Law, and the 200-acre master plan for Riverwalk in Mission Valley. LaBarre is currently involved with a variety of master plans for future smart growth development in the region, including Grantville, Downtown La Mesa, and the transformation of Hazard Center into a mixed-use neighborhood in Mission Valley.

Quigley is a nationally recognized architect whose work has garnered more than 60 design awards from the American Institute of Architects (AIA). In 2005, the AIA California Council honored Quigley with the Maybeck Award, California’s equivalent of the Gold Medal, for three decades of architectural design excellence. A longtime student of the public realm, Quigley has taken on a range of projects throughout the western United States and Japan. His architectural design portfolio includes libraries, cultural centers, high-rise towers, academic buildings, mixed-use residential and custom homes. He has created master plans for cities, neighborhoods, campuses, parks, waterfronts and transit corridors.

Romo is watershed coordinator for the Tijuana River National Estuarine Research Reserve in Imperial Beach. He has practiced architecture in the United States, Mexico, Europe and Africa. He is also an environmentalist involved in national and international conservation efforts. Romo has lectured at the Urban Studies and Planning Program at the University of California, San Diego. He participates as a delegate to the United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development, the U.S. delegation to the World Water Forum and chairs various governmental agency groups dealing with water, environmental infrastructure, urban planning and natural resources conservation.

Shannon is president of Sedona Pacific Corp. and has been involved in real estate planning and development for nearly 30 years. He founded Sedona Pacific in 1994 to pursue niche development opportunities and provide consulting to corporations, government agencies and landowners on real estate and facility development. Shannon has completed a broad range of projects including sports facilities, tourism, adaptive reuse, entertainment, housing, office and mixed use. He led the master planning team for the San Diego Ballpark District, where he created the 60-block redevelopment project that features Petco Park in downtown San Diego.

Segal is considered one of downtown San Diego’s most successful and pioneering residential architects. His company has a reputation for providing superior housing at a lower cost than comparable properties, and the company focus is exclusively on urban projects, ranging from 80 to 160 dwelling units per acre. Jonathan Segal FAIA & Development Co. has been awarded six national AIA Honor Awards for housing work. The company has been responsible for the design and development of more than 300 medium to high-density urban residential, mixed-use and live/work units totaling over 300,000 square feet of construction. During the last 19 years Segal has been the recipient of numerous accolades including 24 local, state and national AIA awards for residential and urban design.

“On May 12, we’ll honor the best of the best in smart growth on both sides of the border,” said Mary Lydon, executive director of the ULI San Diego/Tijuana district council. “The judges reviewed more than 100 entries in order to select projects that best exemplify the cultural, economic and environmental benefits of smart growth planning and design.”

This year’s Smart Growth Awards event takes place at the McMillin Event Center at Liberty Station from 6 to 8 p.m. It will recognize projects that were entitled, built or significantly remodeled between 2000 and 2010. Leaders, policies, events, plans, programs and initiatives from the past 10 years also have been considered. Past Smart Growth Award winners and nominees also are in the running for a Best of the Decade honor.

ULI defines smart growth and sustainability as the "design, construction and management of the built environment to be ecologically sound, economically viable, socially beneficial and culturally appropriate."

In addition to the announcements of the Smart Growth Award winners, the San Diego Architectural Foundation will present its Community Vision Award for 2010.

The event also will feature an extensive raffle prize list including tickets to Jimmy Kimmel Live and The Tonight Show with Jay Leno.

Visit ulisd.org/events/221 for ticket information.

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