Wanted: Real Solutions – The 2015 Vibrant Communities Design Competition

Urban Systems, along with the City of Spruce Grove, the Town of Stony Plain, the Treaty 8 First Nations of Alberta (Treaty 8), and the Edmonton Federation of Community Leagues (EFCL) are sponsoring a design competition aimed at engaging post-secondary students within the capital region by challenging them to solve real-world problems faced by local communities. The community issues may include engineering, planning, urban design, landscape architecture, economic, community, and/or social challenges. Three challenging projects have been identified for student teams to tackle. Over $3,000 in prize money is to be awarded for each project, and students will have the opportunity to work closely with industry professionals from the private and public sectors as well as people working directly with these community challenges.

To learn more about the Design Competition, including detailed project descriptions, please download the PDF.

Call for Entries

Competition Process

In order to give student teams an authentic experience, the process of this design competition is modeled on the process that organizations often follow to award project work to consultants.

Step 1 – Expression of Interest

  • Student teams are invited to submit an Expression of Interest (EOI) for the project they are interested in tackling. Teams are welcome to submit on one, two, or all of the three projects, though they must submit separate EOI’s for each project they wish to pursue.
  • The EOI submission should include descriptions of the team (including what school and program of study each team member is registered in), project understanding, and the proposed project methodology to be followed.
  • Digital submissions in PDF format are preferred and should be no more than 3 pages in length (single-sided, 8 ½” x 11” size pages).
  • Submission of the EOI is due January 26, 2015, via email to
  • From the EOI submissions each client (or client group), along with Urban Systems, will select a shortlist of student teams to complete the design competition. Selection will be based on demonstration of an understanding of project objectives and the creativity and innovation in the team’s approach. Shortlisted entries will be announced February 2, 2015.

Step 2 – Project Work Stage

  • An Urban Systems employee will be available to mentor and provide guidance to each student team as they complete their project.
  • Each student team will have the opportunity to meet with their client and Urban Systems to discuss their progress and any questions they may have about the project.

Step 3 – Project Deliverables and Presentation

  • Project deliverables include a written report, a presentation to the judging panel, and a separate presentation to the public at the project gala.
  • The written report is due March 23, 2015 and presentations to the judging panel will be held March 27, 2015. The project gala will be held the evening of April 9, 2015, location to be determined.
  • The winning projects will be decided by the judging panel and will be announced at the project gala after the public presentations. $3000 will be awarded for each project to each first place team and $500 will be awarded for each project for each first-runner-up.
  • The judging panel may be made up of representatives from the City of Spruce Grove, the Town of Stony Plain, Treaty 8, the EFCL, Urban Systems, and industry association representatives.

Project Descriptions

1) Project: Transforming Inter-municipal Planning Challenges into Opportunities

Clients: City of Spruce Grove and Town of Stony Plain

2) Project: Supporting and Sustaining a Spirited Community League

Client: Edmonton Federation of Community League (EFCL)

3) Project: Student Housing Development for Treaty 8 Post-Secondary Students

Client: Treaty 8 First Nations of Alberta (Treaty 8)

Competition Rules and Registration

The Vibrant Communities Design Competition is open to all students currently registered in programs of study at the University of Alberta, NAIT, and MacEwan University. All of the members that make up a team must be current students at one of those three institutions. Student teams are encouraged to be multi-disciplinary, made up of students from different areas of study, though it is not mandatory. All project materials become the property of Urban Systems and of the client whose project it is submitted for. Urban Systems, the City of Spruce Grove, the Town of Stony Plain, the Treaty 8 First Nations of Alberta, and the Edmonton Federation of Community Leagues may use any submitted project materials for promotional purposes related to the Vibrant Communities Design Competition.

Please email your intent to submit to so that your team may be kept up to date on any changes or additions to the EOI submission requirements.

Questions about the project may be sent to up to and including February 2, 2015. Copies of all questions and answers will be sent to all who have registered their intent to submit via email.

Winning teams from 2014
Winning teams from 2014

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