"First Class Meal" student team won the top prize in AECOM and Van Alen Institute's Urban SOS competition, which challenged multidisciplinary student teams around the world to explore the nexus of the sharing economy and urban infrastructure to solve our cities' most urgent issues.
The winning team, students at Washington University in St. Louis, proposed reusing United States Postal Service (USPS) post offices slated for closure and their underutilized distribution network to help collect, store, and redistribute surplus food to neighborhoods with limited food access. Team members included Irum Javed, Anu Samarajiva and Lanxi Zhang, students in public health, architecture/urban design and landscape architecture/urban design. The team will receive a cash prize in addition to implementation support from AECOM.
"The caliber of this year's entries was exemplary, and we were challenged to select a single winner," said Stephen Engblom, senior vice president and global director of AECOM Cities. "We were inspired to see how these student teams merged the shared economy with urban infrastructure to respond to some of the most challenging issues in the world today. The winning team, First Class Meal, addressed the food desert issue, which is so critical to many of our cities and really resonated with our jury members based in Los Angeles, who are keenly interested in helping to implement the team's concept."