GW Team Wins Students Reinventing Cities Competition

TEDxC40Cities Video Now Available

Joy McFadden
December 16, 2021

Congratulations to the GW team for winning the Students Reinventing Cities competition, led by second year Sustainable Urban Planning student Joy McFadden. The Ivy City Renaissance Project team also consisted of three undergraduate GW students and two graduate students from Pantheon-Sorbonne University (PSL) in Paris.

The GW team competed in the global Students Reinventing Cities competition for students to share their vision for green & thriving city neighborhoods. Organized by the C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group, it provides a unique opportunity for academics and students to collaborate with global cities. Together they imagine a more sustainable and inclusive vision for cities everywhere, by rethinking how neighborhoods are planned and designed.

Over 1,000 students from 150 universities globally submitted their ideas. GW’s Ivy City Renaissance Project was the winning team for Washington, D.C. The team included:

  • Joy McFadden, a second year Sustainable Urban Planning master’s degree student at GW College of Professional Studies
  • Sarah Neumann (International Affairs); Grace Donovan (Environmental Studies); Cynthia Yue (International Economics) – all GW undergraduate students (recent graduates)
  • Lucas Gourlet, Ecole Normale Supérieure (ENS), part of PSL University
  • Mila Praderie, École Normale Supérieure (ENS), part of PSL University
  • Advisors: Dr. Sandra Whitehead, GW Sustainable Urban Planning program director; Paul S. Hayes, GW Debate Manager; Emmanuèle Cunningham-Sabot, planning professor, PSL University.

"I am extremely proud of this student project. To win an international competition takes dedication and hard work. This group of students met on Saturdays for months and interviewed hundreds of community members to create this wonderful vision for Ivy City."

Sandra Whitehead, Ph.D.

Program Director
Sustainable Urban Planning Program


Ivy City Renaissance created a project that tackles three key areas: mobility, community, and sustainability. The site, identified as the New York Avenue NE Corridor, is located northeast of Downtown. It stretches for approximately 3 miles between Florida Avenue NE and South Dakota Avenue NE.  It is a major auto-oriented gateway into the city, with approximately 100,000 vehicles moving through the area every day and limited public transit options. D.C.’s Mayor has set ambitious goals for more affordable housing, and development along the corridor could support them. The students are continuing to engage with the community and will be hosting a community symposium in the spring to share their work with city leaders.

Key components of their project include:

  • Promoting innovative mobility through the creation of both a shuttle & bus rapid transit system, coupled with streets design that enhances active transportation options. 
  • Fostering inclusivity by repurposing the Crummell School lot into a community center, providing services and shelter for Ivy City’s homeless population, and converting parking lots into affordable housing.
  • Enhancing sustainability by revitalizing Lewis Crowe Park, greening parking lots, and transforming shipping containers into LEED-certified structures.

More details about their project are available on the competition website: