The Plimpton-Poorvu Design Prize was established in 2015 with a generous philanthropic gift from long-term friends, business partners, and GSD advocates Samuel Plimpton (MBA '77, MArch '80) and William J. Poorvu (MBA '58). Sam and Bill have each focused their professional lives, through investment and teaching, on real estate and the design of the built environment.

The Plimpton-Poorvu Design Prize encourages collaborative and cross-disciplinary work. The prize is awarded to an individual or team whose project, completed as part of their GSD curriculum, best demonstrates feasibility in design and construction and fulfills market and user needs. Specifically, the jury looks for development proposals that use innovative design strategies to solve a problem, address a need, or serve a demand in ways that demonstrate a plausible path to implementation.

Demonstration of feasibility may include a market analysis, business plan, and project pro forma. Students who are interested in discussing the feasibility plans in more detail may reach out to Frank Apeseche, who is available as a faculty mentor this fall.
Teams must have at least one GSD student and may include students from across Harvard and other universities. A first prize of approximately $20,000 and a second prize of $10,000 will be awarded.

Course work completed during the Spring 2020 and Fall 2020 semesters is eligible for the 2021 review cycle. A committee comprised of faculty members from each department will select a shortlist of candidates who will participate in a review and then be asked to submit a revised application, incorporating feedback from the conversation, in March. The faculty committee, department chairs, and I will review the revised submissions and select the prize recipients in May. The first round of submissions are due by noon on Friday, January 15, 2021.

Application instructions

To apply, please submit a PDF document that includes the information requested below to Caroline Newton by 12:00PM EST on Friday, January 15, 2021. Applications submitted after the deadline will not be considered.

Applications must include the following three components in one PDF document with the filename “Applicant_Name_PlimptonPoorvuPrize2021”:

    1. Coversheet listing the following information:
      -2021 Plimpton-Poorvu Design Prize Application
      -Applicant Name
      -Degree Program
      -Graduation Date
      -GSD Email Address and Permanent Email Address
      -Course number and title in which the work was submitted
    2. Written Statement that describes the project and demonstrates the project’s feasibility in design, construction, economics, and fulfillment of market and user needs. (1 page, approximately 300 words) If any aspect of collaborative work is submitted by an individual, the authorship of the work should be clearly identified and distinguished from that of the applicant. Projects performed as independent studies outside the GSD or as part of a professional commission will not be eligible.
    3. Visual Representation of up to 15 pages to supplement the written description (8.5×11 inch format)  Note: Hardcopy, CDs, slides, loose materials, or physical models will not be accepted.

 Questions may be submitted to Caroline Newton, Dean's Office.

2020 Recipients

First Prize
MacKenzie Wasson (MArch I ’20). His project, Building Biras: A Hurricane Adapted Caribbean Resort, pairs a disruptive business model with unconventional architecture yielding new realms of opportunity for locals, investors, and resort guests in the British Virgin Islands.

Second Prize

Tessa Crespo (MDes Risk & Resilience ’20) and Stefan Bird (MIT MSRED ’20). Their project, El Mercado Modelo de Miami, embraces the rich Dominican Republic culture of eating and artisanship in public spaces to envision how a nonprofit multi-stakeholder cooperative can be an incubator and community asset for social and economic mobility in the Allapattah neighborhood of Miami.

Honorable Mention
Zehui Gong (MAUD ’20), Jing Hai (MAUD ’20), Daisha Martin (MUP ’20), and Sidharth Somana (MDes REBE ’21). Their project, Oasi Plaza, proposes a mixed-use development with new transport modalities that symbiotically merges high-density urban living with a bio-diverse marshland in Medford, Massachusetts.

Past Recipients

2019:

First Prize
Sam Adkisson (MAUD ’19) and Hiroki Kawashima (MAUD ’19). Their project, Metro Strand: Renewed Vitality for Overtown in an Urbanizing Miami, proposes a smarter way for Miami’s continued urbanization, with the added complexity of climate change, to establish a better method for future inner-city growth for the impoverished community of Overtown.

Second Prize
Augustinas Indrasius (MDes ’19), Peteris Lazovskis (MArch ’20), and Thomas Schaperkotter (March ’20). Their proposal, Carbon Park, LA, reimagines how real estate investment may fuel social benefit and ecological sustainability by connecting private investment with public space to seek balance for investors, the downtown Los Angeles community, and California's growing carbon economy.

2018: 

First Prize
Georgios Avramides (MDes ’18), Duly Lee (MDes ’18), John Lee (MDes ’18), Emily Marsh (MUP ’18), and Alex Rawding (MUP ’18). Their master plan proposal, Port District Interbay: Seattle, aims to address Seattle’s social challenges through improved transportation systems and is designed to be an economic hub that links residential, office, retail, hotel, public space and trails, and connections to the surrounding community.

Second Prize
Dalia Alderzi (MDes ’19), Alaa Raafat (MDes ’18), and Carlotta Weller (MDes ’19). Their proposal, Glories Olivetti | Barcelona, Spain, revives the legacy of Olivetti, integrates with the existing 22@ innovation district, and becomes the gateway for two communities: El Clot and 22@ innovation district in Barcelona, Spain.

2017:

First Prize
Patricia Alvarez (MDes ’18), Lisa Hollywood (MAUD ’17), Chris Merritt (MLA II ‘ 17), and Lindsay Woodson (MDes & MUP ’17). Their submission, NoBe Nexo, re-envisions an 18-acre site in North Beach, Miami Beach as a mixed-use development that addresses sea-level rise, storm surge, and food insecurity issues.

Second Prize
Maxime Faure (MAUD ’18), Van-Tuong Nguyen (MDes ’18), and Carla Wijaya (MAUD ’18). Their proposal, The W, is for a mixed-use housing development on Boston’s North End waterfront that includes housing for students, young professionals, and single householders, and provides a publicly accessible landscape connection along the waterfront.

2016:

Anna Hermann (MArch ’17) and Felipe Oropeza, Jr. (MArch ’17). Their submission, Hotel Alexandra: Conservation and Redevelopment project, completed for the class “Fieldwork in Conservation Design” demonstrates a successful integration of design, feasibility, and implementation strategy.