In my fifth year I took it upon myself to take a business course on the topic of "developing". In this course I eagerly learned the business side of design and what it takes to initiate and execute a project. Throughout the semester, the class engaged in a fantastic project hosted by the Urban Land Institute of America which serves as an accurate simulation of the real-world developing process. In this project called "Urban Plan", we as groups of five were given the task of responding to a mock RFP while also considering factors like public-opinion, zoning restrictions, and project finances. 
"UrbanPlan is a realistic, engaging exercise in which participants—high school students, university students, or public officials—learn the fundamental forces that affect development in our communities. Participants experience challenging issues, private and public sector roles, complex trade-offs, and fundamental economics in play when proposing realistic land use solutions to vexing growth challenges."
-Urban Land Institute
Team Work
One of the core tannates of this project was simulating the type of teamwork utilized in a typical firm. This was a great opportunity to work closely with people outside my college and gain insight from how they think and operate. This was a great foray for me into the business side of architecture as well as the concepts which drive business in general. While collaborating as a team, we were also all made to focus on specific aspects of the project. Being the only architecture student on the team, I decided to challenge myself and become our group's financial analyst. This was an aspect that I previously had very little experience with. With the help of some excellent teammates I was able to execute my role very successfully and learn a lot from the experience. Conversely, I enjoyed teaching my team what I've learned about urban design and architecture.
A Comprehensive Plan
In our 28 page proposal, we broke down in detail every spatial concept, block layout, and point of interest and elaborated on the reasons for their inclusion and the deeper design ideas embedded in each of them. Along with meeting the city's requirements both financially and programmatically, we also had the option to appease several neighborhood groups, which wrote letters to us about what they wanted from our development. Since these groups can often determine the long-term success of a development and, importantly for our client, the city, how well these voting blocks will approve of the city council's actions, we knew we had to do our best to meet these groups needs, or at least appease them when that was impossible. After many layout iterations and much debate we eventually came to a design which met almost every need and desire of both the city and community and created sensible compromises where community opinions conflicted. 
Design proposal overview
Design proposal overview
Example of our block-by-block breakdowns
Example of our block-by-block breakdowns
Example of a Key location breakdown
Example of a Key location breakdown
Financial Analysis
As previously mentioned, in order to challenge myself I elected to be our group's financial analyst. This meant that for every design decision or building arrangement we made I had to run the numbers through our financial model to ensure several key financial outcomes. Using this model I tested each iteration of our design to ensure that the city received a ten year net revenue return of 1.5 million in taxes, that we as developers received a minimum 11% rate of return on our investment, and that our other investors had an 3 year maximum absorption rate for every office, residential, and retail space. On top of this, I was able to use this model to convey to both my teammates and the city council things like total usage square footage, amenities land use percentages, and importantly job creation estimations.
Presentation Before the Council
The final portion of this project was a presentation before a mock city council. This was great experience with formal business presentation. The Urban Land Institute brought in certified developers and an architect for this process. In the dean's boardroom we presented our proposal and it's key concepts in a rehearsed and concise manner. Following the presentation, the city council asked us questions and pressed us on our ideas.
Our team did such an excellent job in this project that we not only won the RFP over our competing classmates but we were given the high praise of having the best project our professor and national city council reviewers had ever seen.

Below is a link to view our proposal in it's entirety.
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