Columbia University Takes First Place At Eighth Annual Colvin Case Study Challenge

By Brianna Rhodes / Dec 13, 2023

National competition recognizes excellence among emerging professionals

Group shot of Columbia University Colvin Case Study Challenge students
Image Caption
Columbia University takes first place in the Eighth Annual Colvin Case Study Challenge .

Contact: Carrie Chard, Colvin Institute /
Wednesday, December 13, 2023


College Park, Md.— A mixed-use residential and commercial building located in Downtown Brooklyn won first place at the eighth annual Colvin Case Study Challenge on Saturday, Dec. 9. A team from Columbia University beat semi-finalists from the University of Houston, Clemson University and the University at Buffalo with their case study of One Boerum Place in a juried, live competition at the University of Maryland (UMD).

Sponsored by the UMD’s Colvin Institute of Real Estate Development, the Colvin Case Study Challenge is a national retrospective written case study competition that challenges teams to document a recent innovative real estate project within their own metropolitan region. Projects are judged blindly by leading real estate professionals on several criteria, including a depth of understanding of markets, project valuation, finance, urban design and sustainability, entitlement processes and operational issues. 

"The Colvin Case Study Challenge demonstrated the importance of collaboration between students and mentors on and off campus,” said Jesse Saginor, associate professor and an assistant director of UMD’s Real Estate Development Program. “The competition enabled students to apply classroom knowledge to existing developments, resulting in comprehensive case studies that reflected theory and practice. The teams did an amazing job, and we are grateful to our judges who took time out of their busy weekends to support the mission of the Colvin Institute and student education."

This year, the Colvin Institute of Real Estate Development received a $200,000 grant from the Wells Fargo Foundation, which provides three years of funding to two student competitions – The Colvin Capstone Competition and The Colvin Case Study – while also supporting the program’s overall growth. Both are fundamental and integrative educational opportunities that prepare students for comprehensive challenges and allow them to emerge as leaders in the real estate development industry. Thanks to the Wells Fargo Foundation, the Colvin Institute increased the second-place prize for the Colvin Case Study Challenge from $2,500 to $5,000 this year.

“For years, I have admired the University of Maryland's approach to real estate development education and the Colvin Institute's impact on the student experience,” said Stacy Spann, head of Housing Access and Affordability Philanthropy at the Wells Fargo Foundation. “I'm excited about our partnership that will build the capacity of these signature programs and further raise the profile of this world-class institution.” 

With the biggest pool of applications in the competition’s history, this year’s winning entries offered judges insight on innovative, mixed-used development projects in diverse environments. Columbia’s presentation of the Brooklyn-based condominium, One Boerum Place, highlighted the future potential to enhance the quality of living in Downtown Brooklyn. The University of Houston’s presentation of Ion, an innovation and technology hub, showed how the development will be a focal point in the region to foster collaboration between entrepreneurs, researchers, and investors. Clemson University’s project, Riverworks Eastern Wharf, and the University at Buffalo’s Seneca One project focused on multi-use developments that will provide economic growth for previously underutilized areas.

Colvin Case Study Challenge 2023 Winners:

First Place: Columbia University
Phakorn Chansrichawla, Yang Yang, Derek Le
Project: One Boerum Place 

Second Place: University of Houston
Joseph Tran, Hunter Canales, Kaleab Andy
Project: Ion

Third Place: Clemson University
Paul Good, Jordan Smith, Zion Kaauwai
Project: Riverworks Eastern Wharf

Honorable Mention: University at Buffalo
Nina Villanueva, Michella Kobti, Bryan Jackson
Project: Seneca One

The Colvin Institute thanks Elizabeth Glenn, the chair of US Africa Collaborative; Alan Goldstein,​the vice president of Real Estate Development & Portfolio Strategy at AHC Inc.; and Karen McGrath Ph.D., assistant professor of Finance, Bucknell University, for serving on the 2023 jury.

“The Colvin Institute Case Study Challenge brings together students who are pursuing degrees in real estate across the U.S.,” said Dr. Dawn Jourdan, dean of the University of Maryland School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation. “This opportunity provides students the ability to showcase the skills they are learning on a national stage, receiving mentoring and feedback from professionals in real estate and the allied fields. It is a crown jewel of the activities sponsored by the Colvin Institute.”

The Colvin Case Study Challenge is named for the late Baltimore developer John Colvin, who founded the Colvin Institute of Real Estate Development in 2008. The institute supports the interdisciplinary approach of UMD’s Master of Real Estate Development curriculum, which comprehensively covers finance and capital markets, law and public policy, structure and site design, construction management, property, portfolio and asset management as well as marketing and commercial leasing. Learn more about the Colvin Institute of Real Estate Development.