Witters Competition begins in early 1990s
What can a second-year design student, a construction management senior and a graduate student in urban and regional planning learn from each other? A lot, as the Witters Competition has demonstrated for the past 22 years.
The college’s legendary competition began in 1993 as an opportunity for the individual disciplines to work together during an annual problem-solving exercise.
The yearly design competition was created through an endowment sponsored by Colonel and Mrs. Arthur G. Witters of Orlando, Florida. The Witters wanted to provide students with the opportunity to better understand each discipline’s role in various projects. While in school, students primarily work with others in their own discipline. But once students graduated, they would work with the other college disciplines nearly every day.
The competition fosters cooperation among the designers, construction managers and planners by providing the chance for interdisciplinary student teams to work together on a real-world project and learn more about what each discipline brings to the table.
Structured as a charette, students work around the clock for 24 to 48 hours on a different problem, from redevelopment and creative reuse to preserving historic homes to envisioning new buildings. Each year, a DCP faculty member developed the problem and led the competition process.
For many years, the Witters had traveled to watch the final team presentations. After the 2007 competition, Colonel Witters said, “We started this competition so all disciplines in the college could talk and work with one another. Your hard work this weekend made it possible and we are very proud of all of you.”
Although the Witters have passed away in recent years, DCP had the chance to write an article featuring the couple.
“Arthur and Beverley made a generous endowment to the University of Florida to create the ‘Witters Competition’; an academic exercise conducted annually and intended to foster greater cooperation between the design and construction disciplines,” the article said. “They will both be missed by a large and loving family and many friends in the area and around the country.”
Kristin Larsen, associate professor and director of the School of Landscape Architecture and Planning, recalls her time as a DCP student in the late 1980s and early 1990s.
DCP alumni story:
“While an undergrad student, I met a delightful young man the ‘Building E’ Architecture Building. Moved back to Gainesville in late 80’s to get my Master of Architecture degree – in 1991. That ‘young man’ and I just celebrated our 50th wedding anniversary! Good things can happen in Gainesville.”
– Linda Rickman, BDes 1963, MArch 1991
Dr. Richard H. Schneider (1990)
R. Wayne Drummond (1990-1999)
Jay M. Stein, Ph.D., FAICP (1999-2005)
1991: Formation of Powell Center
1991: Center for Affordable Housing was named Shimberg Center for Affordable Housing
1999: A graduate track in Sustainable Construction was offered
1999: In May, Dr. Jay M. Stein stepped down as chair of the Department of Urban and Regional Planning and accepted an appointment as interim dean of the College of Architecture.
1996: Gator Football wins first Championship; UF vs FSU 52-20
1991: Operation Desert Storm began
1992: Official end of the Cold War
1997: Scientist clone sheep