Press Release

September 09, 2014

Student vision for renewing Tirupur, India, wins AECOM Urban SOS competition

Michelle Zucker, a landscape architecture student at Penn State, and Emily Saunders, an architecture student at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, have won AECOM’s fifth annual Urban SOS competition. Their entry, “Restart Tirupur,” proposed to reactivate an abandoned factory as a water filter and start-up community factory, providing migrant workers with access to clean water, self-grown food and native materials for building shelters. 

The Urban SOS program fosters cross-disciplinary thinking in urban problem-solving and design education while helping to make a real difference for a community in need. This year’s competition called for proposals to reinvigorate defunct post-industrial sites with new forms of productivity.

After AECOM juries in 30 offices worldwide selected four finalists, a master jury of design leaders from AECOM, Columbia University, Etsy and Hines selected the winning entry following a public charrette at the Center for Architecture in New York on Sept. 4. The winning team received a US$10,000 prize and up to US$25,000 of in-kind staff time to support implementation of the project. The other finalists, Skye Sun, Erica Chladová, and Chris Dove, each received a US$2,500 prize.

“This year’s entries were particularly strong and deep, coming from over 120 universities around the world,” noted Bill Hanway, competition chair and AECOM’s global practice leader, architecture. “We commend all of the finalists and all of the entrants for their efforts to improve urban communities around the world and practice cross-disciplinary design.”

The master jury included Alexis Michael, director, Hines; Nellwyn Thomas, director, Etsy; Jeffrey Johnson, principal, SLAB and director of China Megacities Lab, Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation, Columbia University; Ross Wimer, architecture practice lead, Americas, AECOM; Jacinta McCann, global practice leader, design, planning and economics, AECOM and president, Landscape Architecture Foundation; Stephen Engblom, design, planning and economics lead, Americas, AECOM; Joe Brown, former chief innovation officer, AECOM; and Jane Chmielinski, chief operating officer and president, Americas, AECOM .

A special exhibition is open through September 16th at the American Institute of Architects New York’s Center for Architecture — designed by AECOM’s Los Angeles and New York studios in collaboration with students from Columbia University Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation, and Atelier Architecture 64 — exploring ideas raised by this year’s Urban SOS theme.

Follow this and coming years’ competitions at, on Facebook, or through @AECOMUrbanSOS on Twitter. Learn about the realization of 2011’s winning submission in this post on AECOM’s Connected Cities blog.


Ranked as the #1 engineering design firm by revenue in Engineering News-Record magazine’s annual industry rankings, AECOM is a premier, fully integrated infrastructure and support services firm, with a broad range of markets, including transportation, facilities, environmental, energy, water and government. With approximately 45,000 employees — including architects, engineers, designers, planners, scientists and management and construction services professionals — serving clients in more than 150 countries around the world, AECOM is a leader in all of the key markets that it serves. AECOM provides a blend of global reach, local knowledge, innovation and technical excellence in delivering solutions that…