The Student Competition

Congratulations to Team 6, bLend at Kearny Mesa, for winning the 2017 Student Competition. Check out their presentation below.

The Student Competition


2017 Healthy Places Student Competition Winners – bLend at Kearny Mesa

  • Krystal Ayala, San Diego State University
  • Tina Camera, San Diego State University
  • Jake Cattanach, Woodbury University
  • Sepehr Dastgheibi, San Diego State University
  • Paul Esteban, Woodbury University
  • Christopher Nesbitt, University of San Diego
  • Dillon Weisner, University of San Diego

bLend’s Development Agenda

The Block at bLend

The Block at bLend

As San Diego’s regional employment hub, bLEND, will facilitate functional uses bringing Kearny Mesa to human scale. By promoting access to safe and healthy choices, the programming of active spaces will lead to healthier lifestyles. With smart growth, human interaction through environmental design will allow for an increase in activity and a decrease in non-communicable disease.

Kearny Mesa as a community, with the common capacity of labor behind a desk and in front of a computer screen, is in need of spaces that are inviting to all. Ease of access through multi-modal connectivity will allow pedestrians, cyclists and public transport users from all demographics the opportunity to utilize bLEND’s appealing spaces. Those with the ambition to get out of the house, away from their office desk, and into a green community space, will have outlets to engage in healthy eating, physical exertion, and local shopping.

The Park at bLend

By integrating these components into the local workers’ everyday lives, access to outdoor spaces will encourage community engagement. Pushing the notion of a transitional neighborhood center with flexible design, live music, fresh food and small business enterprises, will enhance the unique character of Kearny Mesa and opportunities for partnerships.

As a transitional stop for someone grabbing lunch on their break, a person just finishing a long shift in need of sunshine, or a local interested in walking rather than driving to run errands, the process of placemaking will identify bLEND as the go to spot for local culture, through artisan foods, live music and local trade.

About Healthy Places Student Competition 

ULI San Diego-Tijuana District Council is focused on providing leadership and education in the responsible use of land. One of the most important, but least understood, relationships is between the built environment and public health. The United States and many other industrialized nations are currently experiencing unprecedented increases in child obesity, lung and heart disease, diabetes and other diseases having a direct relationship to the quality of the man-made environment that we live in and the behaviors that environment encourages and promotes. Too often the purpose of good design and development is not to promote the health and well-being of the users of the environment, but to make an aesthetic statement or to produce the greatest profit. The purpose of the Healthy Places Student Competition (Competition) is to elevate and publicize the strong relationship between the design of our cities and our health.

Competition Challenge 

San Diego university students will compete in an exercise of responsible land use through a design and development competition focusing on healthy communities. All submitted projects must incorporate the highest and best use of land as well as adhering to ULI’s Building Healthy Places Principles along with financial feasibility.

The primary objective of the Competition is to assemble multidisciplinary student teams from the various local universities where they create a land use plan and development proposal for a site in the City of San Diego. The winning entry will be the plan and proposal best demonstrating the Building Healthy Places Principles and improving public health, while being economically feasible and aesthetically pleasing.

A second objective of the Competition is for the students to work in an environment similar to a professional setting. Typical professional project teams are assembled on a project by project basis depending on the skill sets needed to properly develop a site. The teams include disciplines such as architecture, development, construction, landscape architecture, urban design, planning and finance. Strong interpersonal communication skills and the ability to negotiate the group decision-making process are strengthened from this type of charrette team approach to development.

The Competition will provide a forum for students to learn first-hand about the motivations and objectives of the other players in the development process and what compromises need to be made to ensure the project is financially feasible, aesthetically attractive and promotes healthy activities and lifestyle for its future inhabitants and users.

A panel of experts (the Jury) will narrow down the Competition entries to three finalist teams who will make a presentation to the Jury determining the winner. The winning team will receive an award of $2,500.

Competition Partners & Competition Sponsor

In 1946 brothers William and John Cameron founded the core company – Cameron Brothers Construction Co., which has since evolved into three main companies (Companies). Over the years, the Companies completed numerous civil work projects for the City of San Diego and the State of California, including sections of the 8 Freeway, grading on Qualcomm Stadium and numerous underground sewer, water and storm drain projects for the Cities of San Diego, El Cajon, La Mesa, Santee among others.cameron-brothers-company-llc-logo_final-copy

Overtime, the Companies built many projects for their own account. Today the Companies own approximately 20 different properties including office, industrial, apartments, retail, mobile home parks, as well as, agricultural land in Yuma. The Companies have survived the past 70 years, where many have failed, by limiting debt and staying within its means.

The Companies are debt free and are driven by generating cash flow and holding properties for the long term. This strategy results in building quality into the project at the front end to minimize maintenance issues over time. Most typically, companies will build for cash through internal loans.

Student Opportunity 

Each team has the opportunity to meet with a group of selected mentors, who are professionals within the real estate development industry (e.g. architects, builders, developers, financial advisors), providing support along with practical and applicable knowledge. By including local real estate companies, participating students will be given a tremendous opportunity to showcase their abilities and talents to potential employers, as well as giving employers a unique opportunity to connect with future talent.

The Competition concludes at the Annual Healthy Places Awards Gala. Each team will display and showcase their competition submittals at the Healthy Places Awards Gala. Members of all the Teams are required to stand at their competition submittals and engage the Gala attendees by presenting their projects and answering questions. The winning team will be announced at the Gala while receiving recognition as well as monetary winnings.

Participating Universities 

  •  University of San Diego, Master of Science in Real Estate
  •  Woodbury University, Bachelor of Architecture
  •  NewSchool of Architecture and Design, Bachelor/Master of Architecture
  •  San Diego State University, Master of City Planning
  • University of California, San Diego, Bachelor of Arts in Urban Studies & Planning