Student Vision for Singapore wins AECOM Urban SOS All Systems Go Competition

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti and AECOM CEO Michael S. Burke present awards
Oct 16, 2015 2:00 PM ET
Press Release

LOS ANGELES, Oct. 16, 2015 /3BL Media/ – Daniel Lau, Joseph Rosenberg and Lindsay Rule, graduate design students at the University of Pennsylvania, have won AECOM’s sixth annual Urban SOS competition. Their entry, “The THIRD Reserve,” proposed to create an ambitious new urban landscape to enable the island city-state of Singapore to become self-sufficient in its food production. 

The Urban SOS program fosters cross-disciplinary thinking in urban problem-solving and design education while helping to make a real difference for communities in need. The 2015 student competition was co-sponsored by AECOM, Van Alen Institute100 Resilient Cities – Pioneered by the Rockefeller Foundation and 100RC.  This year’s “All Systems Go” theme asked student teams to submit site-specific proposals that solved an urban food or water system challenge in one of the 100 Resilient Cities locations.

After AECOM juries in 20 offices worldwide selected three finalist teams, a master jury of design leaders from AECOM, Van Alen Institute, 100 RC and The Architect's Newspaper selected the winning entry following a public charrette at the A+D Museum in Los Angeles on Oct. 15.

The winning team received a US$7,500 prize and up to US$25,000 of in-kind staff time to support advancing the project. Awards were presented to the students by Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti and Michael S. Burke, AECOM chairman and chief executive officer.

“Making cities more resilient to change is core to what we do at AECOM,’’ Burke said. “We believe that tomorrow’s cities will require holistic, integrated thinking—like that advanced by UrbanSOS participants in this competition—to prepare for the challenges ahead and to prioritize for the long-term what projects they pursue, develop and fund.’’

“Los Angeles thinks ahead of the curve—whether we are designing revolutionary technology, creating iconic art and architecture, or pioneering policies designed to keep this city resilient,” said Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti. "In the face of climate change, we developed the nation's most comprehensive Sustainable City plan. To prepare for natural disasters, we created "Resilience by Design," a plan that represents a tectonic shift in earthquake policy. I am pleased to see UrbanSOS and AECOM challenging the next-generation of designers, engineers and planners to similarly advance creative, cross-disciplinary projects that will help address some of the world's most pressing economic and social challenges."

“This year’s entries were particularly strong and deep, coming from 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 and innovative thoughts on improving urban communities and their commitment to practice cross-disciplinary design.”

"Van Alen's student competitions allow emerging designers to take on challenges that cut across disciplines and have tangible implications for cities and regions of the future," says David van der Leer, executive director of Van Alen Institute. "We're excited to collaborate with AECOM and 100 Resilient Cities to provide an opportunity for students to see elements of their ideas realized in an urban context facing pressing systemic challenges."

The runner-up team, Bennett Lambert and Elizabeth Reed Yanna from MIT, received a US$5,000 prize for their scheme WATERPOWER in Quito.

Michel Liang from Berkley City College, Sunantana Nuanla-or from Louisiana State University, Pin Udomcharoenchaikit from University of the Aegean, and Jacky Wah from Louisiana State University received a US$2,500 prize for their proposal CANAL SOS in Bangkok.

Urban SOS 2015 Finalist Teams:

- The THIRD Reserve, Singapore // Daniel Lau, Masters of Architecture, University of Pennsylvania, USA; Joseph Rosenberg, Masters of Landscape Architecture, University of Pennsylvania, USA; Lindsay Rule, Masters of Landscape Architecture / Masters of Architecture, University of Pennsylvania, USA

- WATERPOWER, Quito, Ecuador // Bennett Lambert, PhD Civil and Environmental Engineering, MIT, USA; Elizabeth Reed Yarina, Masters of Architecture/ Masters of City Planning, MIT, USA

- CanalSOS, Bangkok, Thailand // Michel Liang, Civil Engineering, Berkeley City College, USA; Sunantana Nuanla-or, Masters of Landscape Architecture, Louisiana State University, USA; Pin Udomcharoenchaikit, Masters of Environmental Science, University of Aegean, Greece; Jacky Wah, Bachelors of Landscape Architecture, Louisiana State University, USA

The master jury included: Jerome Chou, Van Alen Institute, director of competitions; Nate Cormier, AECOM, ‎Los Angeles metro director of landscape architecture; Stephen Engblom, AECOM, global director, AECOM Cities; Bill Hanway, AECOM, global architecture leader, global sports leader; Bryna Lipper, 100 Resilient Cities – Pioneered by the Rockefeller Foundation, vice president for relationships; and Mimi Zeiger, critic, editor, and curator.                                                            

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.



AECOM is a premier, fully integrated professional and technical services firm positioned to design, build, finance and operate infrastructure assets around the world for public- and private-sector clients. The firm’s global staff — including architects, engineers, designers, planners, scientists and management and construction services professionals — serves clients in over 150 countries around the world. AECOM is ranked as the #1 engineering design firm by revenue in Engineering News-Record magazine’s annual industry rankings, and has been recognized by Fortune magazine as a World’s Most Admired Company. The firm is a leader in all of the key markets that it serves, including transportation, facilities, environmental, energy, oil and gas, water, high-rise buildings and government. AECOM provides a blend of global reach, local knowledge, innovation and technical excellence in delivering customized and creative solutions that meet the needs of clients’ projects. A Fortune 500 firm, AECOM companies, including URS Corporation and Hunt Construction Group, had revenue of approximately $19 billion during the 12 months ended June 30, 2015. More information on AECOM and its services can be found at


About 100 Resilient Cities – Pioneered by the Rockefeller Foundation

100 Resilient Cities was created to help cities become more resilient to the physical, social, and economic challenges that are a growing part of the 21st century. It was launched in 2013 on the foundation’s centennial anniversary, as a $100M+ commitment to build urban resilience.


Facebook: /100ResilientCities

Twitter: @100ResCities


About Van Alen Institute

At Van Alen Institute, we believe design can transform cities, landscapes, and regions to improve people’s lives. We collaborate with communities, scholars, policymakers, and professionals on local and global initiatives that rigorously investigate the most pressing social, cultural, and ecological challenges of tomorrow. Building on more than a century of experience, we develop cross-disciplinary research, provocative public programs, and inventive design competitions. 

For nearly 120 years, we have been organizing inventive design competitions that shape the built environment, from temporary installations that activate public spaces to large-scale, multi-year environmental initiatives. We view the design competition as a vehicle to mobilize people across disciplines to develop innovative approaches to complex social, cultural, and ecological challenges around the world.


Facebook: /vanaleninstitute

Twitter: @van_alen

Instagram: @van_alen


Media Contact:

Steve Getzug

Vice President, Communications



NR 15-1002