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The competition, called "Transforming Boston’s Neighborhoods: The Future of Multifamily Housing," offers a $2,500 prize, which will be awarded in December. It asks students to imagine how downtown’s existing stock of office buildings and retail stores—much of it protected by historical preservation statutes—can be repurposed as housing for Bostonians, who generally live everywhere but downtown. "A city without people is not a city, and a city without housing doesn't have any people," says Robert J. Verrier, FAIA, cofounder and managing principal of the Architectural Team. "It's very important to have people living in the downtown area so the lights are on at night and there's activity in the streets, and that's what makes Boston have a lot of vitality."