MIT News - Real estate http://news.mit.edu/topic/mitreal-estate-rss.xml MIT News is dedicated to communicating to the media and the public the news and achievements of the students, faculty, staff and the greater MIT community. en Tue, 19 Nov 2019 15:55:01 -0500 High school students learn about commercial real estate through the Center for Real Estate http://news.mit.edu/2019/high-school-students-learn-about-commercial-real-estate-mit-nexus-1119 Residential course provides immersive experience for 28 juniors and seniors from around the United States. Tue, 19 Nov 2019 15:55:01 -0500 School of Architecture and Planning http://news.mit.edu/2019/high-school-students-learn-about-commercial-real-estate-mit-nexus-1119 <p>Seeking a way to introduce culturally diverse high school students to the study of commercial real estate, the MIT Center for Real Estate (CRE) has created a 12-day, in-residence course and welcomed 28 juniors and seniors to campus this past summer. Participants came from high schools in Colorado, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and Washington.</p> <p>To develop the program, which launched in July and will run again in summer 2020, CRE collaborated with the nonprofit NEXUS Summer Programs. The Real Estate Executive Council (REEC, a national trade association established to promote the interests of minority executives in commercial real estate) and NAIOP Massachusetts (the local office of the Commercial Real Estate Development Association, formerly the National Association for Industrial and Office Parks), provided support to bring the student participants to campus.</p> <p>“We exist to provide college-bound teens with the tools needed to thrive on campus,” says Ric Ramsey, founder of NEXUS Summer Programs. “Alongside a focus on both academic and career development, NEXUS also provides immersive experiences in self-discovery, including opportunities to build confidence and self-sufficiency away from home.”</p> <p>In addition to learning about the fundamental aspects of commercial real estate, participants received SAT prep and presentation coaching from industry experts, and were introduced to the many career opportunities available within the industry. In their post-program evaluations, the student participants gave the program’s modules consistently high ratings.</p> <p>“The NEXUS program is a critical component in helping our industry attract new talent from a diverse population,” says Reesa Fischer, executive director of NAIOP Massachusetts, “We were so impressed with the potential of these students and their enthusiasm about commercial real estate.”</p> <p>Residential housing, hospitality, and commercial real estate development projects are booming in the Boston, Massachusetts area, largely in response to shopping trends and the shifting needs of area residents. In addition to traditional classroom instruction about commercial real estate, participants toured the sites of two local commercial development projects, organized by CRE alumni.</p> <p>A tour of Hub on Causeway, a dynamic, mixed-use property at the original Boston Garden, was organized by Melissa Schrock MSRED ’12, vice president of development at Boston Properties. Closer to campus, Amanda Strong MSRED ’02, director of asset management for the MIT Investment Management Company (MITIMCo), coordinated a tour of Kendall Square at MIT, the massive redevelopment project taking place on and adjacent to the MIT campus. The program also featured site tours of the Fenway by Samuels and Associates, a local development firm working in that area, that included a tour of Fenway Park.</p> <p>In addition, Marcella Barriere MSRED ’13, a real estate project executive at Google, organized a tour of the corporate office and provided presentation space. After coaching, site tours, and discussion, the student teams formally pitched their commercial real estate project ideas to a panel of judges at Google headquarters.</p> <p>The institutional collaboration enabled the participating organizations to advance shared goals. “REEC is very excited to have NAIOP and MIT join our efforts to transform the composition of the real estate industry,” says Kirk Sykes, the chairman of REEC’s board of directors.</p> <p>“It was important for CRE to host NEXUS,” says Kelly Cameron, CRE’s career development officer. “We need culturally diverse students to see MIT as a viable school choice when it’s time to start applying to colleges and universities, but also to see commercial real estate as an actual career option — I think we accomplished both.”</p> NEXUS program participants pose with the MIT seal in Lobby 7. The NEXUS program provides college-bound students with the tools needed to thrive on campus, focusing on academic and career development, and offers opportunities to build confidence and self-sufficiency away from home. Photo: Taidgh McClorySchool of Architecture and Planning, Center for Real Estate, Architecture, Urban studies and planning, Diversity and inclusion, K-12 education, Classes and programs, Education, teaching, academics, Careers, Real estate 3 Questions: New investment in the Osborn Triangle http://news.mit.edu/2019/investment-osborn-triangle-0517 Executive Vice President and Treasurer Israel Ruiz explains the latest step in MIT’s effort to enhance Kendall Square. Fri, 17 May 2019 11:32:16 -0400 MIT News Office http://news.mit.edu/2019/investment-osborn-triangle-0517 <p><em>As part of its ongoing efforts to advance the Kendall Square innovation ecosystem and contribute to the vibrancy of the neighborhood, MIT has entered into an arrangement involving the three buildings known as the Osborn Triangle. </em>MIT News<em> spoke with Israel Ruiz, MIT’s executive vice president and treasurer, about the announcement and its implications for the Institute and the Kendall area.</em></p> <p><strong>Q:</strong> What is being announced today?</p> <p><strong>A:</strong> MIT has completed a transaction that enabled Harrison Street Real Estate to acquire the three-building complex known as Osborn Triangle.&nbsp;This complex includes 610 Main Street, 1 Portland Street, and 700 Main Street, and is currently leased to Pfizer, Novartis, and Lab Central. Under this arrangement, MIT will retain ownership of the land and will “ground lease” the complex to a new joint venture that will be led by Harrison Street Real Estate and will include Bulfinch Companies and MIT, which will retain a minority interest in the transaction.</p> <p>The Osborn Triangle complex was developed by MIT over the past two decades and has helped transform what used to be a parking lot and vacant building into an anchor of the innovation ecosystem in Kendall Square.&nbsp;This is a great example of the positive impact that MIT’s investment in the area can have.&nbsp;The formation of the joint venture with new investment partners will allow MIT to continue to reinvest in the area surrounding its campus and contribute to a vibrant and inclusive Kendall Square.&nbsp;Through the <a href="http://kendallsquare.mit.edu/">Kendall Square Initiative</a>, construction is currently underway that will bring a mix of uses to the area, including academic, commercial research, dormitory, market-rate and affordable housing, and retail, as well as a much-needed grocery store that will open later this year.&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>Q:</strong> What is a ground lease?</p> <p><strong>A:</strong> A ground lease is a mechanism that allows MIT to reduce its investment in a property by giving another entity rights to operate the property for a period of time, after which the property will revert back to MIT control.&nbsp;This structure enables MIT to&nbsp;redeploy capital to new investments in the area, as it is doing through the Kendall Square Initiative and its acquisition of 10 acres of land from the federal government as part of the <a href="http://news.mit.edu/2017/agreement-redevelop-volpe-center-kendall-square-0118">Volpe transaction</a>.&nbsp;Investment partners help MIT to continue to further improve the area surrounding its campus.&nbsp;&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>Q:</strong> Is this the first time MIT has done this?</p> <p><strong>A:</strong> No, MIT has entered into many ground lease transactions over the years.&nbsp;Today’s transaction is highly consistent with MIT’s long-held philosophy of collaborating with others to invest in the area while ensuring that MIT retains ownership of the land over the long term.&nbsp;Technology Square and University Park are two recent examples of this approach.&nbsp; We’re excited to add Osborn Triangle to this list.</p> The three-building complex known as Osborn Triangle includes 610 Main Street, 1 Portland Street, and 700 Main Street, and is currently leased to Pfizer, Novartis, and Lab Central.Image: Melanie Gonick, MITKendall Square, Administration, Community, Facilities, Real estate, Industry, Cambridge, Boston and region First step on Volpe parcel planned for 2019 http://news.mit.edu/2019/john-volpe-transportations-systems-design-0205 Building and landscape designs for new federal building are now complete. Tue, 05 Feb 2019 19:30:00 -0500 MIT News Office http://news.mit.edu/2019/john-volpe-transportations-systems-design-0205 <p>Since the Cambridge City Council <a href="http://news.mit.edu/2017/cambridge-city-council-approves-mit-volpe-zoning-petition-1023">approved</a> MIT’s rezoning petition for the 14-acre U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) Volpe site in October 2017, a team of architects and landscape planners has been working to imagine a new home for the John A. Volpe National Transportation Systems Center in Kendall Square.</p> <p>As part of its January 2017 <a href="http://news.mit.edu/2017/agreement-redevelop-volpe-center-kendall-square-0118">agreement</a> with the federal government, MIT will build a new headquarters for the U.S. DOT Volpe Center on approximately four acres. The building site is located in the northwest corner of the parcel, next to Binney Street and Loughrey Walkway, which runs between Broadway and Binney Street. The new facility will consolidate operations that are currently carried out in six different buildings on the site.</p> <p>The federal government, working through the General Services Administration (GSA), and MIT engaged architectural firm Skidmore, Owings and Merrill to design the new building, which is slated to meet the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Gold level. The design includes robust sustainability and resiliency features, including solar panels on the roof that will supply at least 30 percent of the building’s hot water demand, and high-efficiency heating, ventilation, and cooling equipment. The team designed the building’s massing, glazing, and interior layouts to maximize daylight into the building, and designed fins on the exterior façades to minimize heating and cooling loads. In addition, the site will incorporate best practices in storm water management.</p> <p>Although the project is not subject to local review, the design of the new 212-foot-tall center was subject to the federal government’s rigorous review process as part of the <a href="https://www.gsa.gov/real-estate/design-construction/design-excellence-overview">GSA Design Excellence Program</a>. This process also considered design guidelines recommended by the City of Cambridge, included peer reviews, and ultimately was approved by the GSA’s regional chief architect and the chief architect of the U.S.</p> <p>MIT Managing Director of Real Estate Steve Marsh says: “This is a very complex project that is being executed on behalf of the United States government. The collaboration with the federal government has gone very well, and we are pleased with the outcome of the building and landscape design processes. I believe that the new U.S. DOT Volpe Center will be a welcome and vibrant addition to the broader Kendall Square community.”</p> <p>Inviting and engaging public spaces, including seating areas and walkways, will surround the federal headquarters. A primary goal of the public space is to bring the East Cambridge neighborhood and Kendall Square community together through a new north-south connection. The development of this currently inaccessible site, which comprises predominantly asphalt surface parking, will promote access to and from the residential neighborhood, the Charles River, the MBTA, and the many retail and restaurant offerings in Kendall Square.</p> <p>In order to achieve this sense of openness and connectivity, the GSA and MIT engaged&nbsp;artist Maya Lin, known for her large-scale, site-specific outdoor earthworks, in coordination with landscape architecture firm Reed Hilderbrand, to create an engaging and inviting public landscape. Central to the open space will be Lin’s landscape-integrated art piece —&nbsp;a physical and visual representation of the Doppler effect, manifested in undulating grassy mounds that depict sound waves.</p> <p>The incorporation of a Maya Lin art piece within the site is part of the Federal government’s&nbsp;<a href="https://url.emailprotection.link/?as4kpvuLYaXrLa6hjNbaaU_85vY2Y_rXZGvC3jhM0idjpz4hqj2l6zA2hqPL_xNcGpbOhqSlgvoGS1yfLtWrUTVzSYFUTcWuEqtL7vUD_qpDPfGUU0_wO1YJ7_mM1xDvLa5iPY8Di_MSE6-yimUeoZJyNe0I3SaHsx868NtXTsRk~" target="_blank">Art in Architecture</a>&nbsp;program which commissions artworks for new buildings nationwide.&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;</p> <p>Since the outset of the project, the GSA has been focused on constructing a headquarters that is inviting and reflects the context of the site’s surroundings. GSA Regional Commissioner of the Public Buildings Service&nbsp;Glenn Rotondo says: “We are committed to creating a public realm that is well-integrated within the community.”</p> <p>Once completed, the new U.S. DOT Volpe development will include primarily below-grade vehicular parking and ample bicycle parking. In addition, over 100 new diverse native-species trees will be installed using current best practices in planting, and an extensive landscaping program will be available for the public to enjoy. Even though the federal government is exempt from Cambridge’s local tree ordinance, the tree replacement plan is designed to materially exceed the current local requirements for large projects. To prepare the site for construction, 21 private trees will be removed that are within the building’s footprint or security perimeter. Twenty of those trees are Norway Maples, an invasive species that Massachusetts prohibits from being sold, planted, or propagated. In addition, two street trees will need to be relocated or replaced to accommodate a curb cut required by the project.</p> <p>Enabling utility work on the Federal site is ongoing, and construction of the garage and building is expected to start later this year and take approximately three years. Once the new John A. Volpe National Transportation Systems Center is up and running, the Institute will be able to commence redevelopment of the remaining 10 acres of the original U.S. DOT Volpe parcel. MIT’s proposal for that portion of the site, which was presented to the community during the rezoning process, features housing (including 280 affordable units), commercial and lab space, retail, open space, a community center, and a job connector.</p> <p>MIT is currently advancing other commitments that were codified as part of the Volpe rezoning agreement. The Institute has already provided $500,000 toward the design of the Grand Junction multiuse community path, which will be followed by an additional $8 million contribution for continuing design and construction. MIT staff are currently working closely with the city and other stakeholders to implement this critical infrastructure project. In addition, the Institute is in the process of identifying a site for a new 500-bed graduate student residence hall — a commitment made to the City of Cambridge through the Volpe zoning process.</p> <p>The U.S. DOT Volpe building and landscape design is being shared with the Cambridge Planning Board tonight at the board’s annual Town Gown public meeting.</p> A view of the new U.S. DOT Volpe building as seen from Binney Street looking west.Image courtesy of Skidmore, Owings and Merrill LLP (SOM)Kendall Square, Real estate, Campus buildings and architecture, Cambridge, Boston and region, Community, Administration, Innovation and Entrpreneurship (I&E), Startups, Arts, Architecture Zhengzhou: China&#039;s living laboratory for urbanization http://news.mit.edu/2018/mit-program-studying-zhengzhou-living-laboratory-china-urbanization-1206 A new MIT program in the planned Chinese city offers opportunities for observation and collaboration. Thu, 06 Dec 2018 12:50:00 -0500 Ken Shulman | School of Architecture and Planning http://news.mit.edu/2018/mit-program-studying-zhengzhou-living-laboratory-china-urbanization-1206 <p>Zhengdong New District is a planned mixed-use new city in the northeast quadrant of Zhengzhou Municipality, the capital of China’s Henan Province. Construction started in 2001 for what is one of many planned urban&nbsp;communities seeded across China to help accommodate that country’s unprecedented rate of urbanization.</p> <p>Today, the 150-square-kilometer Zhengdong New District is thriving, home to 320 financial institutions, 29 universities, a broad array of information and service industries, a high-speed rail station, and, most significantly, 1.5 million inhabitants. It is also, as of this month, the site of one of MIT’s ambitious and imaginative international projects: the Zhengzhou City Living Lab program.</p> <p>“This is a unique opportunity for the School of Architecture and Planning, and for MIT,” says Siqi Zheng, an associate professor at MIT's&nbsp;Department of Urban Studies and Planning&nbsp;(DUSP) and the Center for Real Estate (CRE), and faculty director of the MIT China Future City Lab (MIT-CFC). CFC Lab is the first MIT-backed research and entrepreneurship lab that brings academia, entrepreneurs, government, and industries together on urban challenges in China.</p> <p>“Unlike chemists or engineers, urban policy makers, planners, and developers can’t perform experiments in a physical laboratory,” says Zheng. “To apply our theories, policies, and technologies in China, we need to be there on the ground. We were looking for a city with an entrepreneurial spirit, one that is willing to work with us, to test out our new ideas. We’ve found that in Zhengzhou.”</p> <p>“China is very important for MIT’s global strategy, and we&nbsp;want to strengthen our research ties there,” said Richard Lester, MIT associate provost for international activities.&nbsp;“The&nbsp;Zhengzhou City Living Lab program provides a wonderful opportunity for&nbsp;the faculty’s research and innovation&nbsp;activities to&nbsp;impact the city’s future sustainable development.”&nbsp;</p> <p>The lab was officially launched on Nov.&nbsp;12 at the MIT China New City Forum, a satellite event of the MIT China Summit. As a key element of MIT-CFC, this living lab program is a collaboration between MIT and the municipal government of Zhengzhou.</p> <p>“China’s urbanization has been extremely rapid,” says Zheng, noting the vast differences between one city and the next, with problems of pollution, energy, housing, and congestion.</p> <p>“We couldn’t observe those issues at such a large scale in the West. China’s top-down governance also enables us to test our ideas, technologies, and policy designs there in real-time — whether in new city formation, the real estate market, urban transportation, energy and environment, or the innovation-driven entrepreneurial ecosystem,” says Zheng, whose local knowledge helped cement the arrangement between the municipality and MIT.</p> <p>Hashim Sarkis, dean of the MIT School of Architecture and Planning says the&nbsp;agreement “is a testimony to Siqi’s clarity of mission and boldness of vision, and to the rigor and speculative thinking that CFC brings to the future of Chinese urbanization.”</p> <p>Zhengzhou’s leaders are equally enthusiastic about the new venture with MIT.</p> <p>“We are fortunate to have MIT join us to establish this Living Lab,” says Peng Wang, Deputy Mayor of Zhengzhou and Party Secretary of the Zhengdong New District, “Zhengzhou will serve as a testing ground for MIT’s research on forward-looking urbanism, cutting-edge technologies, and innovative social and public policies. Together we can demonstrate how these comprehensive strategies can benefit new city developments across China.”</p> <p>China’s demographic shift has been both rapid and dramatic. Only 13 percent of China’s inhabitants lived in cities in 1950. That percentage is projected to exceed 60 percent by 2030. In many ways, Zhengdong New District’s life cycle was typical of the developments built to manage China’s metamorphosis: centralized coordination, rapid construction, relocation of key state-owned industries, a few years of silence, and finally, a boom.</p> <p>Yet like that of China’s urbanization, most Zhengzhou’s history remains to be written.</p> <p>“Chinese cities are in a transitional stage,” says Zhengzhen Tan, executive director of MIT-CFC. “For the first 30 years, the focus was on efficiency, on building the cities and facilities, and getting people to move there. Now, and for the next 30 years, the focus will be on quality of life, on making these urban centers socially, environmentally, and economically sustainable. This is where MIT can be particularly relevant in Chinese development.”</p> <p>An urban planner trained in Shanghai and Singapore, Tan believes that China and its singular development experience can also be relevant to MIT.</p> <p>“This has all taken place so quickly,” says Tan, who practiced in London and Vancouver before joining MIT two years ago. “There is very limited data and knowledge available on China’s urbanization and economic development, particularly in the West. This is an excellent opportunity for the West to sample a bit of Chinese wisdom, and to acquire practical knowledge and strategies that can benefit other emerging economies.”</p> <p>MIT-CFC is not the first engagement among MIT’s School of Architecture and Planning, DUSP, CRE, and China.</p> <p>“We began our collaboration with China over 30 years ago, right when the country started to urbanize,” says Eran Ben-Joseph, head of DUSP. “Now, with the growing impact and importance of China, we want to be even more involved, both to help shape research, and to acquire and disseminate professional practices. Siqi’s new program is a remarkable initiative, which addresses urbanization from multiple perspectives — urban planning, policy, development, real estate, and environment. It can provide some very important lessons.”</p> <p>Students and researchers at MIT will have additional opportunities to observe and help shape China’s urbanization. After visiting China this past July, five student urban innovation start-up teams have launched pilot projects in various Chinese cities.</p> <p>“I think MIT-CFC will become a window onto China’s urbanization, for MIT, and for our school,” says Zheng. “And a window onto MIT for China.”</p> Zhengdong New District the site of one of MIT’s ambitious and imaginative international projects.Image courtesy Zhengdong New District CommitteeGlobal, International initiatives, China, Cities, Real estate, Urban studies and planning, Center for Real Estate, Development, Innovation and Entrepreneurship (I&E), School of Architecture and Planning Boeing will be Kendall Square Initiative’s first major tenant http://news.mit.edu/2018/boeing-kendall-square-initiative-first-major-tenant-0801 New research presence will serve to advance innovation in the aerospace industry and shape East Campus gateway. Wed, 01 Aug 2018 00:59:59 -0400 Steve Bradt | MIT News Office http://news.mit.edu/2018/boeing-kendall-square-initiative-first-major-tenant-0801 <p><a href="https://www.boeing.com/">Boeing</a>, the world’s largest aerospace company, will soon become part of the MIT/Kendall Square innovation fabric. The company has agreed to lease approximately 100,000 square feet at MIT’s building to be developed at 314 Main St., in the heart of Kendall Square in Cambridge.</p> <p>The agreement makes Boeing the first major tenant to commit to MIT’s <a href="http://news.mit.edu/2016/new-era-kendall-square-initiative-cambridge-planning-board-0518">Kendall Square Initiative</a>, which includes six sites slated for housing, retail, research and development, office, academic, and open space uses. The building at 314 Main St. (“Site 5” on the map above) is located between the MBTA Red Line station and the Kendall Hotel. Boeing is expected to occupy its new space by the end of 2020.</p> <p>“Our focus on advancing the Kendall Square innovation ecosystem includes a deep and historic understanding of what we call the ‘power of proximity’ to address pressing global challenges,” MIT Executive Vice President and Treasurer Israel Ruiz says. “MIT’s president, L. Rafael Reif, has made clear his objective of reducing the time it takes to move ideas from the classroom and lab out to the market. The power of proximity is a dynamic that propels this concept forward: Just as pharmaceutical, biotech, and tech sector scientists in Kendall Square work closely with their nearby MIT colleagues, Boeing and MIT researchers will be able to strengthen their collaborative ties to further chart the course of the aerospace industry.”</p> <p>Boeing was founded in 1916 —&nbsp;the same year that MIT moved to Cambridge — and marked its recent <a href="https://www.boeing.com/boeing100/">centennial</a> in a spirit similar to the Institute’s 100-year celebration in 2016, with special events, community activities, and commemorations. That period also represents a century-long research relationship between Boeing and MIT that has helped to advance the global aerospace industry.</p> <p>Some of Boeing’s founding leaders, as well as engineers, executives, Boeing Technical Fellows, and student interns, are MIT alumni.</p> <p>Earlier this year, Boeing announced that it will serve as the lead donor for MIT’s $18 million project to replace its 80-year-old Wright Brothers Wind Tunnel. This <a href="http://aeroastro.mit.edu/news-events/new-wright-brothers-wind-tunnel-will-be-largest-most-advanced-us-academic-tunnel">pledge</a> will help to create, at MIT, the world’s most advanced academic wind tunnel.</p> <p>In 2017, Boeing acquired MIT spinout <a href="http://www.aurora.aero/">Aurora Flight Sciences</a>, which develops advanced aerospace platforms and autonomous systems. Its primary research and development center is located at 90 Broadway in Kendall Square. In the new facility at 314 Main St., Boeing will establish the Aerospace and Autonomy Center, which will focus on advancing enabling technologies for autonomous aircraft.</p> <p>“Boeing is leading the development of new autonomous vehicles and future transportation systems that will bring flight closer to home,” says Greg Hyslop, Boeing chief technology officer. “By investing in this new research facility, we are creating a hub where our engineers can collaborate with other Boeing engineers and research partners around the world and leverage the Cambridge innovation ecosystem.”</p> <p>“It’s fitting that Boeing will join the Kendall/MIT innovation family,” MIT Provost Martin Schmidt says. “Our research interests have been intertwined for over 100 years, and we’ve worked together to advance world-changing aerospace technologies and systems. MIT’s Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics is the oldest program of its kind in the United States, and excels at its mission of developing new air transportation concepts, autonomous systems, and small satellites through an intensive focus on cutting-edge education and research. Boeing’s presence will create an unprecedented opportunity for new synergies in this industry.”</p> <p>The current appearance of the 314 Main St. site belies its future active presence in Kendall Square. The building’s foundation and basement level — which will house loading infrastructure, storage and mechanical space, and bicycle parking — is currently in construction. Adjacent to those functions is an underground parking garage, a network of newly placed utilities, and water and sewer infrastructure. Vertical construction of the building should begin in September.</p> <p>At 250 feet high, the new 17-floor building will accommodate additional commercial tenants, as well as the MIT Museum, which will occupy over 57,000 square feet on the building’s ground, second, and third floors. The ground floor is designed to feature retail and restaurant uses, including the entrance to the new home for the MIT Press Bookstore.</p> <p>“Boeing will be a great addition to the Kendall Square innovation ecosystem, “ says Steve Marsh, managing director of MIT’s real estate group.&nbsp;“Boeing has chosen to locate at the new gateway to MIT’s campus being developed above the Kendall MBTA station.&nbsp;This is as close to MIT’s campus as industry innovators can physically get, and that helps promote important collaborations.”</p> <p>On the other side of the MBTA station, MIT’s new graduate residence hall (“Site 4” on the map above) is already going up. The Institute decided to lead with that 450-unit facility in response to community interest in expanding on-campus housing inventory for graduate students. That building will also serve to shape the East Campus gateway by creating new homes for MIT’s Admissions Office, an innovation and entrepreneurship hub, a childcare center, active retail concepts, and the MIT Forum, which will provide shared space for community programming.</p> <p>Tying these buildings together will be an outdoor space well over two acres. The area will feature a combination of hard and soft landscape treatments accompanied by art installations, interactive science experiments, inventions, and other engaging and surprising elements showcasing MIT’s innovative and welcoming spirit. The Institute has recently hired Jessie Schlosser Smith as its new director of open space programming; she is already beginning to collaborate with faculty, students, staff, and members of the Cambridge community to envision memorable programming for the outdoor spaces.</p> Artist’s rendering of 314 Main St.Image: Perkins + WillKendall Square, Administration, Community, Facilities, Real estate, Aeronautical and astronautical engineering, Industry, cambridge, Cambridge, Boston and region The city is her lab http://news.mit.edu/2018/faculty-profile-siqi-zheng-0703 Siqi Zheng studies the economics of China’s urban explosion. Tue, 03 Jul 2018 00:00:00 -0400 Peter Dizikes | MIT News Office http://news.mit.edu/2018/faculty-profile-siqi-zheng-0703 <p>In recent decades, China has built and expanded its cities on a scale never seen before in human history. Given the vast social, economic, and environmental changes that have resulted, it is tempting to say that contemporary China has been a laboratory of urbanization.</p> <p>In fact, to Siqi Zheng, China’s cities are very much labs. Zheng is an associate professor in MIT’s Department of Urban Studies and Planning whose work examines the dynamic connections between what she calls urban “vibrancy” — economic and job growth, for instance — and urban “amenities,” such as transit, clean air, schools, housing, and restaurants.</p> <p>The interplay between vibrancy and amenities can be complicated: Jobs and growth can create pollution, for example, which lowers the quality of urban life in one dimension, even as a city’s employment opportunities raise incomes. On the other hand, more far-sighted policies can bring amenities such as better transit, green parks, and affordable housing to cities in tandem with growth, and also attract talents who value such amenities.</p> <p>In any such case, Zheng’s studies are characterized by a close examination of neighborhood-level or city-level conditions and the dynamics causing them. Or, as Zheng puts it, her work “uses individual choices and real estate to understand the driving forces behind values in the city.”</p> <p>Those dynamics are a phenomenon Zheng and her co-author Matthew Kahn of the University of Southern California examined closely in their 2016 book, “Blue Skies over Beijing,” published by Princeton University Press, which explored urban change and air pollution.</p> <p>As Kahn and Zheng found, the notoriously bad air pollution of China’s rapidly growing urban centers has created resistance among residents at multiple income levels. In particular, demands for a better urban quality of life from an ascendant middle class have led to pushback on existing policies. In the long run, Zheng and Kahn assert, China will move further in the direction of cleaner growth.</p> <p>For her research and teaching, Zheng was hired with tenure by MIT in 2017. Her goals at the Institute include more research, continued teaching, and broadening the ties between her native country and her current home.</p> <p>“I want to start more interaction between China and the U.S.,” Zheng says.</p> <p>Actually, she already has: Last fall, MIT <a href="http://news.mit.edu/2017/mit-launches-china-future-city-lab-1121">announced the formation</a> of the China Future City Lab, an academic and entrepreneurial program headed by Zheng.</p> <p>The lab, developed along with Tsinghua University in Beijing as well as corporate and governmental partners, has three main elements: It supports basic research on urban life in China; houses the MIT-Tsinghua Future City Innovation Connector (FCIC), which backs Chinese startup teams to launch pilot projects in Chinese cities; and works with Chinese cities that serve as “living labs” for ideas and innovations of MIT researchers.</p> <p>In some ways, Zheng also personifies the expanding connections between China and the U.S. in recent decades. Zheng grew up in China and has spent the balance of her academic career there, as a student and professor. However, her intellectual formation owes a fair amount to her experiences in the U.S. academic world.</p> <p>Zheng received a PhD in urban development and real estate from Tsinghua University, where she was closely focused on housing issues. But a stint as a postdoc at Harvard University’s Graduate School of Design made her want to analyze some of the larger connections in the urban fabric — between growth, jobs, transit, the environment, and more.</p> <p>Thus what Zheng calls the “very vibrant academic environment” in the U.S. led to a career shift of sorts: “I got so interested in urban issues [that] I switched from housing to the whole urban subject.”</p> <p>Zheng became a professor at Tsinghua University, as well as the director of the Hang Lung Center for Real Estate there. She is now in her second full year at MIT, where she is the Samuel Tak Lee Associate Professor of Real Estate, Development, and Entrepreneurship as well as faculty director of the China Future City Lab — in addition to her duties in the Samuel Tak Lee Real Estate Entrepreneurship Lab.</p> <p>Even as she juggles new responsibilities, Zheng says she has quickly felt at ease on the MIT campus.</p> <p>“One very special thing [here] is the interdisciplinary way of doing research,” Zheng observes.</p> <p>Certainly Zheng ranges widely as a scholar in urban studies. In the time since her book was published, Zheng has co-authored papers with an array of findings about urban life. For instance, while examining the effects of public transit on pollution, she found that in the city of Changsha, neighborhood-level carbon monoxide pollution has dropped 18 percent in places where a new subway stop has opened.</p> <p>Another study Zheng co-authored that was published last year shows that in China, the development of industrial parks has significant local economic spillover effects: For more than a mile beyond the boundaries of industrial parks, there are significant increases in productivity, wages, employment, home sales, and retail activities.</p> <p>Still another recent Zheng paper examines how the opening of new subway stations in Beijing increases neighborhood land values by making those locales more desirable to an expanded market. Among other things, Zheng and her colleagues found that between 20 and 40 percent of residential rent increases was due to the opening of new neighborhood restaurants alone.</p> <p>So what is next for Zheng? For now, she intends to pursue more of these kinds of studies. But in the long run, Zheng notes, she would like to broaden her urbanism projects to include other countries and continents.&nbsp;</p> <p>“I want to generalize the lessons,” Zheng says. “I don’t want to just use China as a case study.”</p> <p>At the moment, though, the rapid changes in China are providing her with a wealth of material to examine and questions to raise — and they keep her from thinking that she has a comprehensive understanding of some very complex urban situations.</p> <p>“I still have a lot to learn,” says Zheng.</p> Siqi Zheng is an associate professor in MIT’s Department of Urban Studies and Planning whose work examines the dynamic connections between what she calls urban “vibrancy” — economic and job growth, for instance — and urban “amenities,” such as transit, clean air, schools, housing, and restaurants. Image: Bryce VickmarkProfile, Faculty, Urban studies and planning, China, Cities, Real estate, Center for Real Estate, Innovation and Entrepreneurship (I&E), Global, Development, Pollution, Transportation, Economics, School of Architecture and Planning Dennis Frenchman named head of the MIT Center for Real Estate http://news.mit.edu/2018/dennis-frenchman-named-head-mit-center-real-estate-0702 Architect and urban designer brings to the role decades of global expertise on the transformation of cities Mon, 02 Jul 2018 11:05:01 -0400 School of Architecture and Planning http://news.mit.edu/2018/dennis-frenchman-named-head-mit-center-real-estate-0702 <p>Dennis Frenchman, the Class of 1922 Professor of Urban Design and Planning in the Department of Urban Studies and Planning (DUSP), has been named the new faculty director of the MIT Center for Real Estate (CRE). He assumed the role on July 1.</p> <p>“We are very excited to have Dennis take on this role,” said Hashim Sarkis, dean of the School of Architecture and Planning. “He brings to CRE seasoned leadership skills and bold ideas that will expand the frontiers of research and innovation, strengthen the link between urban design and development, and broaden the international reach of the center.”</p> <p>Frenchman, who serves on the CRE and DUSP faculties, holds dual master’s degrees in architecture and city planning from MIT, where he has taught since 1983. A registered architect, he has a distinguished record of award-winning practice in Boston, most recently as senior principal of <a href="https://tekumafrenchman.com/" target="_blank">Tekuma Frenchman Urban Design</a>, working on large-scale development projects in Asia, the Middle East, and Latin America. His practice and research focuses on the transformation of cities, and he is an expert with worldwide experience in the application of digital technology to city design.</p> <p>Frenchman has led MIT research efforts for the Energy Foundation to develop new models for clean energy urbanization in China. He has played a leading role in the design and development of innovation districts around the world, from Medellín, Colombia, to Seoul, South Korea. And he is part of an interdisciplinary team from MIT engaged in research <a href="http://news.mit.edu/2016/autonomous-fleet-amsterdam-roboat-0919" target="_self">collaborations with the Amsterdam Institute for Advanced Metropolitan Solutions</a> (AMS) in the Netherlands, using the city of Amsterdam as a living laboratory and test bed for urban innovation.</p> <p>At MIT, Frenchman has led key initiatives in design and urbanism for his department and the School of Architecture and Planning (SA+P). For 15 years he headed the school’s Joint Program in City Design and Development. From 1987 to 2016, he co-led and taught the “<a href="http://news.mit.edu/2016/beijing-studio-celebrates-30-years-0714" target="_self">Beijing Studio</a>,” an urban design program jointly organized by MIT and Tsinghua University that was one of the earliest and longest-running academic engagements between the U.S. and China. Within the Center for Real Estate, Frenchman co-founded the <a href="http://realestateinnovationlab.mit.edu/index.html" target="_blank">Real Estate Innovation Lab</a> in 2016 with professor David Geltner and research scientist Andrea Chegut.</p> <p>In 2016, Frenchman developed and helped to launch <a href="https://www.designx.mit.edu/" target="_blank">DesignX</a>, the SA+P entrepreneurship accelerator aimed at ventures related to design and the built environment, and serves as its faculty director. He will continue in this role as the program enters its third year, under the leadership of Executive Director Gilad Rosenzweig.</p> <p>Dennis Frenchman will take over as CRE faculty director from Albert Saiz, an associate professor of urban economics and real estate. Saiz will remain on the faculty of both the CRE and DUSP.</p> <p>“We thank Albert for an excellent tenure as director during which he greatly improved on the competitiveness of the program, built the center’s capacities in executive and online education, and emphasized social responsibility and sustainability in educating the real estate developers of the future,” said Sarkis.</p> Dennis Frenchman, the Class of 1922 Professor of Urban Design and Planning, is the newly appointed director of the MIT Center for Real Estate. Photo: Bryce VickmarkFaculty, Center for Real Estate, Urban studies and planning, Cities, Design, Real estate, School of Architecture and Planning China Venture Workshop announces first cohort http://news.mit.edu/2018/china-venture-workshop-announces-first-cohort-0531 Ten teams will collaborate with local partners, pilot solutions to urban challenges. Thu, 31 May 2018 13:10:01 -0400 Louis Goldsmith | School of Architecture and Planning http://news.mit.edu/2018/china-venture-workshop-announces-first-cohort-0531 <p>Ten MIT startups have been selected for the inaugural cohort of the China Venture Workshop, jointly sponsored by the MIT China Future City Lab’s (CFC) China Future City Innovation Connector (FCIC) and DesignX, the School of Architecture and Planning’s accelerator for innovation in the built environment. The startups, with goals ranging from clean energy to job creation, aim to launch ventures in China to solve problems associated with urbanization.</p> <p>The FCIC prepares teams of innovators to tackle the problems of urbanization by working with those active in the Chinese urban development industry. The program pairs teams from MIT with academic advisors at Tsinghua University and the Chinese Academy of Science, and with leading industry and civic actors, to guide them through a local pilot launch process. The program also provides essential business skills and insights for operating in China, including how to work closely with the government and how to engage customers.</p> <p>“If we want to solve the challenges of cities in China, as well as around the world, we need innovative companies to deploy solutions on the ground,” says Siqi Zheng, faculty director of the China Future City Lab. Zheng is an urban and environmental economist whose research focuses on Chinese cities.</p> <p>“China, however, is a hard market to penetrate,” she says. “We offer teams the knowledge, connections, and support to launch successfully in China. The CFC Lab is developing a systematic approach to identifying urban challenges in Chinese cities that are local to each city but that also share some characteristics, and then design procedures to better match the technological and social innovations with those challenges.”</p> <p>The workshop is a two-week intensive summer program led by faculty and staff from CFC, DesignX, and Tsinghua University, where the program will partly take place. It will introduce entrepreneurial teams to potential investors, resources, and experts in their fields as they turn their ideas and inventions into tangible ventures. The startups will also travel to other Chinese cities that are leaders in innovation to identify potential pilot locations and meet with local leaders and innovators.</p> <p>“China presents unique opportunities for innovation in design, cities, and the built environment,” says Professor Dennis Frenchman, faculty director of DesignX, who has worked in China for more than 30 years. “We find that cities are willing to experiment with new technologies and patterns of development that will improve urban livability.”</p> <p>On May 21 the teams met with over 30 of the CFC’s Chinese industrial partners to demonstrate their progress and solicit feedback before they embark on the piloting trip.</p> <p>“The fact that FCIC teams will have the opportunity to work with influential real estate conglomerates, city governments, and academic researchers in Greater China will provide a significant advantage to these ambitious urban innovation startups,” said CFC’s executive director, Zhengzhen Tan, who designed and developed the FCIC program in cooperation with DesignX and Tsinghua University.</p> <p>According to Tan, the workshop received 25 applications that featured a wide variety of creative and innovative ideas. FCIC, DesignX, and industry partners evaluated written applications, listened to pitches, and conducted interviews to choose the teams.</p> <p>Gilad Rosenzweig, executive director of DesignX, has been working with dozens of startups that are making an impact in cities. “This opportunity to engage in modern Chinese city making is unique,” says Rosenzweig. “DesignX was created to help design and deploy ideas and technology to improve design, cities, and the human experience. Partnering with the CFC Lab and Tsinghua University will support exponential growth for everyone involved.”</p> <p>These are the startups:</p> <p><strong>AdaViv</strong> uses artificial intelligence to help indoor agriculture companies monitor their crops and make adjustments to growing conditions to optimize results. AdaViv’s founders are particularly interested in China’s expanding herbal medicine market.</p> <p><strong>Biobot Analytics</strong> deploys robotic sensors in urban sewer systems to help governments collect and evaluate real-time public health data, such as the prevalence of opioids and other drugs. They have completed experiments in the U.S., Kuwait, and South Korea.</p> <p><strong>CitoryTech</strong> allows individuals to familiarize themselves with their community by employing innovative data to lead residents on outings to explore their cities.</p> <p><strong>Constructure</strong> matches various construction industry participants to increase transparency between employers and their potential employees.</p> <p><strong>Gaia Elements</strong> is developing a kite-powered system to generate energy from wind. They are seeking to expand this innovative technology in China, the world’s largest clean energy market.</p> <p><strong>Kawsay</strong> connects infrastructure providers with people living in informal communities and provides data analysis and tools to help the providers manage business growth, explore new markets, and track impact. Their first project was improving water delivery in Lima, Peru, and the team is now working to expand their data collection and forecasting in larger markets.</p> <p><strong>Multimer</strong> collects, visualizes, and analyzes geolocated data transmitted by wearable technology to inform human-centered spatial design and decisions. They have previously partnered with the United Nations, Harley-Davidson, and IBM to help the organizations understand how their users, employees, and customers utilize a space.</p> <p><strong>Roots Studio</strong> digitizes the creative content of traditional artists from remote areas around the world and connects them to the $32-billion global art, interior decor, and design licensing markets.</p> <p><strong>Shurong Data</strong> provides behavior chain analysis using advanced data collection technologies to initiate and aid smarter real estate development and urban planning.</p> <p><strong>VThree.AI</strong> uses artificial intelligence to empower smart buildings and smart urban life, focusing initially on the problem of energy waste in cities by monitoring and identifying “top waster” devices and rooms in buildings.</p> <p>In addition, the MIT teams will be joined in China by six startups associated with Tsinghua University:</p> <p><strong>Air Faucet System</strong> replaces water used during hand-washing with high-speed air flow, achieving the same cleanliness while cutting water use by 90 percent.</p> <p><strong>Galloon</strong> extracts and treats moisture from the air, turning it into safe drinking water. They are developing technology for use by both individuals and cities.</p> <p><strong>LeanFM Technologies</strong> employs artificial intelligence to monitor the status of household and office devices and predict impending mechanical failure.</p> <p><strong>Linktravel</strong> collects and analyzes commuter data to provide consumers with schedules and help transportation companies improve their efficiency.</p> <p><strong>Sponge Public Restgardens</strong> uses sponge technology to absorb rainwater for use in public restrooms and nearby artificial ponds, creating both efficient bathrooms and urban beauty.</p> <p><strong>Zhongyan Parking</strong> increases the efficiency of underground parking by building vertical shafts that can accommodate ten times as many cars as a typical parking lot of the same size.</p> <p>Zheng, who also serves as the Samuel Tak Lee Associate Professor of Real Estate Development and Entrepreneurship, says that she is optimistic about the positive change that the combination of visionary startups and knowledgeable partners will bring about.</p> <p>“This program has the potential to help combat the issues of urbanization in China in an innovative and creative manner that could improve people’s urban living experiences,” Zheng says. “Even in only our first year, we think the program is going to have an immediate impact.”</p> MIT startup teams meet with Chinese industry partners at the China Future City Lab demo day.Photo: Lighten StudioInnovation and Entrepreneurship (I&E), Urban studies and planning, China, Design, Cities, Asia, Global, Real estate, Classes and programs, Development, Startups, School of Architecture and Planning Measuring the economy with location data http://news.mit.edu/2018/startup-thasos-group-measuring-economy-smartphone-location-data-0328 Startup’s platform crunches anonymized smartphone GPS data to understand how people shop, work, and live. Tue, 27 Mar 2018 23:59:59 -0400 Rob Matheson | MIT News Office http://news.mit.edu/2018/startup-thasos-group-measuring-economy-smartphone-location-data-0328 <p>Carrying your smartphone around everywhere has become a way of life. In doing so, you produce a surprising amount of data about your role in the economy — where you shop, work, travel, and generally hang out.</p> <p>Thasos Group, founded at MIT in 2011, has developed a platform that leverages that data, in anonymized and aggregated form, to measure economies for industry and investors.</p> <p>Thasos’s platform —&nbsp;based on MIT Media Lab research by co-founders Wei Pan PhD ’15 and Professor Alex “Sandy” Pentland — crunches anonymized location data from hundreds of millions of mobile phones daily, extracting notable consumption, employment, and living behaviors.</p> <p>“We process up to 3 to 5 terabytes of data per day and use that data to measure economic activities, such as how many people visit a store or a commercial property, how many people go to work or travel, and how many man-hours are spent in a factory,” says Pan, Thasos’ chief scientist.</p> <p>This quantifiable information is valuable for investors, corporations, policymakers, economists, and others who need a deep economic understanding of various sectors in real-time. In November, for instance, Thasos released a study showing how Amazon’s acquisition of Whole Foods, and the subsequent price drop Amazon implemented, affected consumer behavior. Results from user location data indicated price drops drove up foot traffic by 17 percent in the immediate aftermath, with around 15 to 24 percent of shoppers defecting from nearby competing stores.</p> <p>“Using generic movement patterns, we noted some shoppers started to explore Whole Foods who would never go there before,” Pan says.</p> <p>With more than 25 hedge fund clients, Thasos is popular among investors, who use the platform to measure various metrics — such as employee hours worked and customer visitation — of companies they may invest in or sell shares. The startup also has corporate clients and hopes, in the future, to reach policymakers. It could produce, for instance, real-time measurements on how fiscal policies affect consumer spending, work hours, and other economic metrics.</p> <p>The other Thasos co-founders are John Collins MBA ’12 and Greg Skibiski.</p> <p><strong>Truth in numbers</strong></p> <p>To make use of location data, Thasos first builds “geofences,” virtual boundaries established around a target location, such as stores, shopping malls, work sites, neighborhoods, and cities. Tens of thousands of hand-drawn geofences are added to Thasos’ database weekly, each with important metadata, such as when a facility or store opened, whether or not the parking lot is shared, and information on nearby businesses.</p> <p>Once the geofences are established, Thasos compiles location data from within the geofences from apps and other software that collect data via smartphones’ GPS, RFID, or Wi-Fi, in an anonymous and aggregated fashion. By analyzing these data, the platform identifies clusters of people who may be, for example, first-time or regular customers, seasonal workers or full-time workers, or travelers from afar or nearby. The platform can then compare location data from the time a specific change is implemented — such as a price drop — with historical data to quantify the change’s impact on specific clusters.</p> <p>Thasos has published a couple of <a href="http://thasosgroup.com/insights/">case studies</a> with big-name clients — which have produced some surprising insights.</p> <p>On Aug. 28, Amazon acquired Whole Foods and implemented price reductions across all stores. Using their geofences for Whole Foods stores across the nation, as well as for Costco, Trader Joe’s, Sprouts, Target, Kroger, Walmart, and several other nearby stores, Thasos looked at location data from tens of millions of shoppers to measure customer growth, defection from competitors, driving times, and demographics such as income level (established through census data).</p> <p>Results showed overall foot traffic for the Whole Foods stores increased 17 percent during the week of price reduction; it decelerated to 4 percent by the end of three weeks but stayed elevated above pre-acquisition numbers. New customers came primarily from Walmart (24 percent), Kroger (16 percent), and Costco (15 percent). Because all data are anonymous, Thasos determined only types of shoppers that defected — for example, 24 percent of Whole Foods new customers appearing over the three-week period were regulars at Walmart.</p> <p>Interestingly, Pan says, it was the competing stores’ wealthiest customers who tended to defect to Whole Foods, an outcome that was contradictory to Amazon’s aim of attracting a broader customer base. “We showed that the strategy of cutting costs didn’t attract lower- and middle-income shoppers,” Pan says, adding, “For corporations, that type of insight is key in shaping decisions.”</p> <p>In another recent case study, Thasos looked at real estate investment trusts (REITs), companies that own and operate commercial properties, such as malls. To measure their properties’ value, REITs generally manually count foot traffic at a sample of malls and estimate performance across all properties nationwide. Based on such estimates, owners had seemed to suggest that nationwide foot traffic was increasing to their malls and several high-end anchor stores, such as Macy’s or Nordstrom, as well as at lower-end anchor stores, such as JCPenney and Sears.</p> <p>Thasos, however, determined otherwise. Their data indicated declining quarterly foot traffic trends — suggesting a drop in overall sales — throughout 2017 by about 5 to 6 percent at all anchor stores. (Results were later verified by transaction and sales records from the stores when the owners reported earnings.) Surprisingly, high-end anchor department stores underperformed compared to lower-end department stores by about 3 percent. And malls with grocery stores attracted about 5 percent more people than those without.</p> <p>Such insights can help REITs find ways to attract more visitors, such as investing in more low-end department stores or grocery stores, Pan says: “Having this information changes the way you think about the value of the property.”</p> <p><strong>Marrying data and economics</strong></p> <p>In 2009, Pan joined the Media Lab to study under Pentland, the Toshiba Professor of Media Arts and Sciences and a pioneer in behavioral data science. There, he became interested in marrying his background in data science with his interest in economics.</p> <p>The idea was to use data to measure components of world economies, but he didn’t know which type of data to use. Today, surveys are typically used for such social science and marketing research — a type of probability sampling that originated in the 1930s. “Industry is still using technology that was developed in the Great Depression,” Pan says.</p> <p>As it happened, smartphones were on the rise. “Everyone had a smartphone —&nbsp;and the phone always knows where you are,” Pan says. “From an economic standpoint, you’re basically consuming, resting, or working. I realized location data was the best angle to measure those metrics.”</p> <p>Pan also sought guidance from Andrew Lo, the Charles E. and Susan T. Harris&nbsp;Professor and the director of the Laboratory for Financial Engineering at the MIT Sloan School of Management, who is known for using computer science to study financial markets. “Media Lab is so interdisciplinary, you’re expected to think across different departments,” Pan says. “You can always take classes that help you understand a field you’re not formally trained in to do something that’s cutting edge.”</p> <p>Moving between the Media Lab and MIT Sloan, Pan built an early version of the Thasos platform. In 2011, he and Pentland, already a serial entrepreneur, along with Collins and Skibiski, launched Thasos out of MIT, quickly landing a $10 billion-plus hedge fund client in New York City, where the startup is now headquartered.</p> <p>Today, Thasos operates primarily in the United States. But the startup aims to expand worldwide, Pan says, with ambitions of becoming a “global economic-insights engine.” The idea is to create a system that can compare and contrast major economic components — such as consumer spending, factory production, employment hours, and tourism — between countries.</p> <p>“Every country today has its own way of measuring economic activities. We’re trying to build a consistent system to compare countries, to provide a better view of the overall world economy,” he says.</p> Startups, Innovation and Entrepreneurship (I&E), Data, Retail, Real estate, Industry, Economics, Finance, Behavior, Behavioral economics, employment, Mobile devices, Machine learning, Software, Media Lab, Alumni/ae, School of Architecture and Planning New connector helps faculty, student startups launch in China http://news.mit.edu/2018/new-connector-helps-faculty-student-start-ups-launch-china-0214 The new connector helps faculty, students, and alumni launch startups in China. Wed, 14 Feb 2018 18:00:01 -0500 School of Architecture and Planning http://news.mit.edu/2018/new-connector-helps-faculty-student-start-ups-launch-china-0214 <p>A new collaboration between MIT and Tsinghua University will help startup teams from both institutions launch ventures to solve urban challenges in China.</p> <p>The China Ventures Workshop will provide participants with training, mentoring, and access to partners and resources that could help deliver their innovations to the market in China. The workshop is a joint project of the China Future City Lab in the Department of Urban Studies and Planning, the DesignX venture accelerator in the School of Architecture and Planning, and Tsinghua University.&nbsp;The deadline to <a href="https://cfclab.mit.edu/FCIC">apply</a> for the China Ventures Workshop is March 4.</p> <p>At MIT, the workshop is open to entrepreneurial teams with at least one member drawn from the MIT community, including faculty, students, researchers, and alumni. The workshop will take place in Beijing and three other cities, from July 1-14, 2018. Selected teams will receive training in Chinese city planning and economics prior to the workshop, and will have the opportunity to stay on afterward to pilot their innovations at test sites in partner cities and with companies. All expenses will be paid by the program.</p> <p>“China has an acute need for urban innovation, yet it can be difficult for U.S. ventures to enter China,” says Siqi Zheng, faculty director of the China Future City Lab and Samuel Tak Lee Associate Professor of Real Estate Development and Entrepreneurship. “Working with Tsinghua University, the lab’s Future City Innovation Connector provides entrepreneurs with the knowledge they will need to navigate in China while also connecting them with a network of partners who can help them bring their startups to bear on the challenge of cities.”</p> <p>The MIT-Tsinghua collaboration will offer distinct advantages to the participants from both institutions, Zheng says. Teams from MIT will get specialized instruction on operating in China, from setting up a company, to navigating legal or government issues, to understanding the landscape of political economy, and local cultural, social, and business environments. For Tsinghua participants, exposure to MIT’s strengths in innovation and entrepreneurship will improve their ability to form home-grown companies for tackling urban issues in China and beyond.</p> <p>The workshop is co-organized by DesignX, an entrepreneurship center in the School of Architecture and Planning. “DesignX is dedicated to accelerating innovation in design, cities, and the built environment,” says Dennis Frenchman, the faculty director for DesignX and Class of 1922 Professor of Urban Design and Planning. “We’re excited to share our unique model with urban entrepreneurs seeking to make an impact in China.”</p> <p><em>Deadline to apply: March 4, 2018, for inquiries: <a href="mailto:fcic2018@mit.edu">fcic2018@mit.edu</a>.</em></p> East Pacific Center Towers, Shenzhen, China.Photo: jo.sau/Wikimedia Commons CC-BYInnovation and Entrepreneurship (I&E), School of Architecture and Planning, Urban studies and planning, Design, Cities, China, Asia, Global, Classes and programs, Real estate, Development Turning real estate data into decision-making tools http://news.mit.edu/2017/mit-turning-real-estate-data-decision-making-tools-1222 New Real Estate Price Dynamics Research Platform from the MIT Center for Real Estate offers predictive power to investors. Fri, 22 Dec 2017 16:15:00 -0500 Michael Hoban | School of Architecture and Planning http://news.mit.edu/2017/mit-turning-real-estate-data-decision-making-tools-1222 <p>The unprecedented amount of commercial real estate information being generated today presents new opportunities for analysts to develop models that translate masses of data into predictive tools for investors. Recognizing that&nbsp;potential, the MIT Center for Real Estate (CRE) has launched the <a href="http://mitcre.mit.edu/research-publications/real-estate-price-dynamics-platform">Real Estate Price Dynamics Research Platform</a> (REPD Platform) to explore models and analytics that can lay the foundation for providing real-world solutions. The platform builds on CRE’s earlier work in the field of commercial property price index development.&nbsp;</p> <p>The lead researcher for the platform is postdoc&nbsp;Alexander van de Minne, with David Geltner, professor of real estate finance, serving as principal investigator. Geltner is the lead author of “Commercial Real Estate Analysis and Investment,” a standard graduate textbook in the field.</p> <p>“Real estate investment has always been a world with a lack of good empirical data,” says Geltner, a pioneer in the development of transaction price based commercial property price and investment performance indices over a decade ago. “But with the digital revolution, there’s an explosion of data aggregators, information companies, and other sources of empirical data relevant to commercial real estate investment.”</p> <p>In addition to the increase in data availability, Geltner&nbsp;says, the other crucial component for the REPD Platform has been the advancement of econometric capability to handle the new data. Econometrics, a toolkit of statistical methods used by economists to test hypotheses using real-world data, provides a means to turn enormous quantities of data into actionable information.</p> <p>The aim of the platform, whose research and analysis will be available to the public, is to advance real estate investment-related analytics in such areas as price and rent indexing (how prices change over time) and automated valuation models. These can ultimately have a real-world impact by improving investment and management decisions. One feature that distinguishes the REPD Platform from most other property investment research is the application of Bayesian techniques, as distinguished from classical statistics. By employing Bayesian econometrics, researchers are able to use prior knowledge and economic theory to help inform the statistical analysis, which Geltner says makes the analysis more efficient.</p> <p>Van de Minne says&nbsp;that this is important because of a seeming paradox: “Even though we have much more data than we’ve ever had before in commercial real estate, we still find ourselves typically in situations of scarce data.”</p> <p>This occurs because the analysis of investment properties is subject to a host of variables,&nbsp;including market and submarket&nbsp;location as well as varying data sources, which make the study of real estate pricing very challenging. Geltner adds that&nbsp;because the values of properties are so market specific — with market rents tied to the value of the asset — “you’ve really got to track locally.”&nbsp;</p> <p>“What is going on in San Francisco in terms of asset pricing may be totally different from what is going on in Dallas,” he&nbsp;says.&nbsp;“And even what’s going on in the Dallas central business district is different from what’s going on in North Dallas.”</p> <p>Van de Minne, using the analogy of how an insufficient number of property sales within a given period can produce skewed results, says there are inherent flaws in using a classical statistical model for real estate price indexing.</p> <p>“If you’re looking at a price index that has only two data points [property sales], for instance, and you try to use that sample to tell us that prices went down 85 percent in one quarter, can you really take that conclusion seriously?” he asks. “So what our models allow us to do is to still use that information, but to weigh that data against our a priori knowledge.”</p> <p>Although the primary focus of the REPD Platform is on commercial property asset prices, related subjects are being explored, such as rents and space market dynamics, with the platform already being used to study office markets in India. The platform also engages with other research organizations within CRE, including the Real Estate Innovation Lab and the newly created China Future City Lab, which focuses on China’s rapidly growing urban areas. The researchers also collaborate with academics from other disciplines within MIT, such Youssef M. Marzouk, the director of the Aerospace Computational Design Laboratory.</p> <p>The REPD Platform was seed funded with a gift from long-time CRE industry partner Real Capital Analytics Inc. In classic MIT "mens-et-manus" fashion, the platform serves as a bridge between pioneering academic research and industry practice.</p> <p>“This is an academic entity in an academic institution, so we’re not particularly driven by ‘Is there a profit?’ in producing this information product,” says Geltner. “We’re more about discovering fundamental things about the real estate investment industry — the markets and how they work.”</p> <p>The function of the platform is not purely academic either, says van de Minne.</p> <p>“We are interested in the actual needs of people in the industry,” he says. “We want to have an impact, so we’re not just living in an academic bubble.”</p> David Geltner (left), a professor of real estate finance, and postdoc Alexander van de Minne are helping translate masses of data into predictive tools for investors.Photo: Tom GeartyFaculty, Real estate, Center for Real Estate, Urban studies and planning, Research, Economics, School of Architecture and Planning MIT’s One Broadway Building to be the future home of Brothers Marketplace http://news.mit.edu/2017/mit-one-broadway-building-brothers-marketplace-1214 Announcement delivers on a key commitment by the Institute to the Cambridge community. Thu, 14 Dec 2017 10:15:00 -0500 MIT News Office http://news.mit.edu/2017/mit-one-broadway-building-brothers-marketplace-1214 <p>MIT’s Kendall Square Initiative delivered on a key commitment to the Cambridge community today with the announcement of a fully executed lease with Roche Bros. Supermarkets to open a Brothers Marketplace at One Broadway. A grocery store was the most requested retail use specified by neighborhood residents, local employees, and students during the zoning process for MIT’s Kendall Square development.</p> <p>The 19,000-square-foot Brothers Marketplace is expected to open in summer 2019. The ground floor of One Broadway is currently under construction to make room for the future grocer, as well as a repositioned lobby, a restaurant, and a new home for Dunkin Donuts. The One Broadway renovations are part of a larger development at the site, which will include 300 residential units and an additional 12,800 square feet of retail.</p> <p>“The community’s desire for a grocery store was raised in every conversation that we had with stakeholders during our zoning process,” says Steve Marsh, managing director of MIT’s Real Estate Group, which oversees MIT’s Kendall development. “It is so important to those who live and work in Kendall that we worked to incorporate it in the earliest possible phase of our development. Going forward, we believe that the market will also serve as an anchor for other retail that contributes to a vibrant neighborhood and greater sense of place in the square.”</p> <p>Brothers Marketplace brings an innovative approach to food, with a nod to the legacy of small neighborhood markets from long ago. Shoppers will find grocery essentials and favorite national brands alongside unique offerings in prepared foods made in-store, baked goods, fresh produce, local seafood, antibiotic- and hormone-free meats, local and international cheeses, and offerings from local producers, such as Cambridge’s own Iggy’s Bread and Bonnie’s Jams. Brothers Marketplace provides busy customers the ability to purchase grab-and-go items quickly while also offering an experiential setting for lingering and savoring an array of seasonal foods.</p> <p>The new market is expected to bring about 50 jobs to the neighborhood. Roche Bros. has a long history of working closely with the communities it serves around philanthropy and employment opportunities. The company has won numerous awards for job quality and workforce development. Its partnership with the Chinese Progressive Association and Boston Chinatown Neighborhood Center, for example, offered immigrant workers the chance to learn English while working in the company’s Downtown Crossing location.&nbsp;</p> <p>“We are excited to open our Brothers Marketplace store in Kendall Square and meet the local community’s longstanding need for a grocery store,” says Rick Roche, co-owner and CEO of Roche Bros. “The MIT Kendall Square neighborhood is a dynamic and growing community, and we hope our neighborhood market becomes a favorite grocery and dining experience for area residents and businesses.”</p> <p>Currently, residents must travel to other market locations outside of the Kendall Square area to shop for food. Longtime East Cambridge resident Al Disidoro describes the difference that the Brothers Marketplace will make: “Now, it will be much easier for my family to pick up items that we need, and we won’t have to plan a trip just for basic groceries. This market will mean a lot to the neighborhood, and we’re grateful to MIT for listening to us and making it happen.”</p> <p>Cambridge City Councilor Tim Toomey, who has advocated for the needs of East Cambridge residents for nearly three decades, expresses his enthusiasm for the new market, saying, “This will be tremendously helpful to the residents of the area. The market will fill a gap that has existed for many years, and its presence will bring a very positive impact to the neighborhood. I commend MIT for leading with this project.”</p> <p>MIT’s <a href="http://kendallsquare.mit.edu/">Kendall Square Initiative</a>, which was granted special permit approval by the City of Cambridge in May 2016, aims to foster a vibrant mixed-use district featuring six new buildings on what are now MIT-owned parking lots in the East Campus/Kendall Square area, including three buildings for research and development, two for housing, and one for retail and office space. When built out, it will add 1.8 million square feet of lab, office, residential, retail, cultural, and academic space, as well as 2 acres of programmed open space, to the already thriving district.</p> <p><a href="http://www.brothers-marketplace.com/">Brothers Marketplace</a> is a neighborhood market from Roche Bros. Supermarkets, featuring handpicked selections of fresh foods, local products, delicious prepared meals, and grocery essentials. Brothers Marketplace has locations in Medfield and Weston, Massachusetts, with plans to open its Waltham location in spring 2018.</p> <p><a href="http://www.rochebros.com/">Roche Bros.</a> is a family business, employing more than 4,800 associates in its 19 Roche Bros., Sudbury Farms and Brothers Marketplace grocery stores. Headquartered in&nbsp;Wellesley, Massachusetts, Roche Bros. offers the highest quality meat, seafood and produce, favorite food brands, full-service catering, and home delivery. Second-generation owners&nbsp;Rick and Ed Roche&nbsp;carry on the family tradition, operating Roche Bros. with a passion for great food and great customer service.&nbsp;</p> Kendall Square will soon be the home of the new Roche Brothers grocery store. Image: Elkus Manfredi ArchitectsCambridge, Boston and region, Real estate, Kendall Square, Community, Campus buildings and architecture Collaborating to cut emissions in the property sector http://news.mit.edu/2017/mqdc-collaborates-with-mitei-to-reduce-property-sector-greenhouse-gas-emissions-1205 Bangkok-based property developer MQDC is joining the MIT Energy Initiative’s Low-Carbon Energy Center for Electric Power Systems Research. Tue, 05 Dec 2017 18:00:00 -0500 MIT Energy Initiative http://news.mit.edu/2017/mqdc-collaborates-with-mitei-to-reduce-property-sector-greenhouse-gas-emissions-1205 <p>To enhance the sustainability of homes and property projects in Thailand, Bangkok-based property developer Magnolia Quality Development Corporation Limited (MQDC) has joined the MIT Energy Initiative, with a three-year membership&nbsp;agreement in MITEI’s <a href="http://energy.mit.edu/lcec/">Low-Carbon Energy Center</a>&nbsp;for Electric Power Systems Research.</p> <p>MQDC is joining MITEI to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from property projects in Thailand, through both optimizing its own developments and providing consultancy to other firms in the sector. MQDC’s Research and&nbsp;Innovation for Sustainability Center (RISC) will work with MITEI in the collaboration. RISC focuses on in-house and sponsored research to drive innovation in energy and water efficiency for home environments, and also works to make construction techniques and materials more sustainable.</p> <p>The electric power systems center is one of eight Low-Carbon Energy Centers that MITEI has established as part of the Institute’s Plan for Action on Climate Change, which calls for engagement with industry to solve the pressing challenges of decarbonizing the energy sector with multiple advanced technologies, including energy storage, solar, and bioscience. The centers build on MITEI’s existing work with industry members, government, and foundations.</p> <p>“RISC is delighted to be supporting the work of the MIT Energy Initiative, whose objectives we closely share,” says Singh Intrachooto, the chief advisor of RISC. “We are confident this collaboration through MITEI’s Low-Carbon Energy Center for Electric Power Systems Research will bring benefits for the sustainability of property development in Thailand and enable the country to play a greater role in global efforts to combat climate change.”</p> <p>Wendy Duan, manager of MITEI's&nbsp;Asia Pacific Energy Partnership Program,&nbsp;says MIT is looking forward to&nbsp;working with MQDC and RISC on research that will help them reduce greenhouse gas emissions in current and future real estate projects.</p> <p>“This is an important sector to decarbonize, and this collaboration will support MQDC’s commitment to advancing low-carbon technologies and strategies,” Duan says.</p> <p>MITEI’s electric power systems center works&nbsp;to accelerate an efficient transition toward a decarbonized power sector by leveraging and integrating MIT’s cross-disciplinary expertise. Through quantitative analysis, the center studies the impacts and system level implications of emerging technologies, evolving business models, and regulatory and policy dynamics that are shaping the future of the sector — building on the groundwork laid by MITEI’s 2016 <a href="http://energy.mit.edu/research/utility-future-study/">“Utility of the Future”</a>&nbsp;study to help guide the evolution of the electric grid.</p> <p>One of the core thematic areas that the center examines is the role of the built environment in the power system of the future, including identifying effective and efficient means by which the built environment can contribute to decarbonization and improved sustainability of the power system, such as clean distributed energy generation and smart efficient consumption.</p> <p>The center is led by co-directors <a href="http://energy.mit.edu/profile/francis-osullivan/">Francis O'Sullivan</a>, MITEI’s director of research, and Christopher Knittel, the George P. Shultz Professor of Applied Economics.</p> Lihong "Wendy" Duan, manager of the Asia Pacific Energy Partnership Program at the MIT Energy Initiative, and Singh Intrachooto, chief advisor of MQDC’s Research and Innovation for Sustainability Center, shake hands during a signing ceremony to launch the collaboration.Photo courtesy of MQDC.Climate change, Development, International initiatives, MIT Energy Initiative, Real estate, Greenhouse gases, Climate, Industry, Energy, Alternative energy, Collaboration, Asia MIT launches China Future City Lab http://news.mit.edu/2017/mit-launches-china-future-city-lab-1121 New urban studies program to spur research and innovation in China. Mon, 20 Nov 2017 23:59:59 -0500 Peter Dizikes | MIT News Office http://news.mit.edu/2017/mit-launches-china-future-city-lab-1121 <p>MIT has launched a unique new urban research and innovation program that looks to advance city life in China through an ambitious range of academic and entrepreneurial activities.</p> <p>The China Future City Lab, created with university, corporate, and governmental partners, has officially taken flight following a two-day conference, launch event, and signing ceremony late last week.</p> <p>“We want to be a pioneer,” said Siqi Zheng, the MIT urban studies associate professor who heads the new lab, speaking at the launch event last Friday. The China Future City Lab, she also noted, will have “a clear focus on China’s sustainable urbanization.”</p> <p>The China Future City Lab consists of three foundational elements. First, the lab will support a wide range of basic research in China, investigating many aspects of urban social and economic life.</p> <p>Second, the lab will house a program known as the MIT-Tsinghua Future City Innovation Connector (FCIC), which will support startup teams applying ideas to China’s urban areas. The FCIC will also aim to identify innovative concepts and technologies that could be implemented in China.</p> <p>As a third element of its activities, the China Future City Lab will engage with Chinese cities that will serve as “living labs” or testing sites where MIT researchers will have a unique opportunity to examine their urban-focused ideas and innovations.</p> <p>The development of the new lab comes at a time when China has been rapidly urbanizing. Over half of the country’s population now lives in urban areas, up from roughly 20 percent in the early 1980s. As Zheng noted in her remarks on Friday, lessons from this rapid change can be applied to other countries and regions, since the global population is also urbanizing markedly, albeit at a slower pace than in China.</p> <p>“The new knowledge should have implications everywhere,” Zheng said.</p> <p><strong>Fitting the global strategy</strong></p> <p>The creation of the China Future City Lab fits closely with a new framework for global activities that MIT released last spring. As detailed in a preliminary report, “<a href="http://web.mit.edu/globalstrategy/">A Global Strategy for MIT</a>,” this approach calls for, among other things, enhanced efforts to cultivate collaborative projects in different regions of the world, including China.</p> <p>“Our intention is to bring the best of MIT to China, and the best of China to MIT, and I know the China Future City Lab will be a key building block of that strategy,” said Richard K. Lester, the associate provost of MIT overseeing the Institute’s international activities, in remarks at the launch on Friday.</p> <p>China’s urbanization, Lester added, is “of enormous intellectual and practical interest to the MIT community, to our faculty, to our students, across a wide range of disciplines.” The areas of research that figure to be directly involved in the subject, Lester suggested, include urban studies, economics, architecture, management,&nbsp; computer science, artificial intelligence, transportation systems, and civil and environmental engineering.</p> <p>In turn, he noted, those disciplines will need to tackle a variety of large-scale problems common to China and other societies, including climate change mitigation and the deployment of clean energy technologies, access to clean water, access to affordable health care, and new challenges brought about by aging populations.</p> <p><strong>A tradition of engagement — and a renewal of it</strong></p> <p>As Lester detailed in his remarks, MIT also has a lengthy history of engagement with China. The first Chinese student at MIT arrived in 1877, just 16 years after the Institute opened, and, as shown in an ongoing campus exhibit, “China Comes to Tech,” curated by MIT professor of history Emma Teng, over 400 students from China studied at MIT over the next half-century.</p> <p>More recently, MIT has been building a more extensive network of institutional ties with China, including parterships within academia. One of those agreements is with Tsinghua University, which is MIT’s partner in the Future City Innovation Connector component of the new lab.</p> <p>The China City Future Lab also builds upon the precedent established by the Beijing Studio, a 30-year partnership the School of Architecture and Planning established with Tsinghua University that enabled hundreds of MIT students to evaluate urban studies issues in China.</p> <p>The China Future City Lab is also launching with the help of eight corporate founding members, comprising six private companies and two state-run property firms, that have interests spread across China and Hong Kong. They are:</p> <ul> <li>Hongkong Land, founded in 1889, which is one of Asia’s oldest established property groups;</li> <li>Zall Group, a major developer in Wuhan, the capital of Hubei Province;</li> <li>Fosun Property, an international conglomerate and investment company based in Shanghai;</li> <li>China Resources Land, a state-run property developer with headquarters in Shenzhen;</li> <li>Tusincere Science City Investment Group Co., Ltd., a firm that builds business parks;</li> <li>Nash Work, China’s largest operator of co-working spaces, with sites in several major cities;</li> <li>ChengYu Construction Investment Group, a development firm located in Zhengzhou; and</li> <li>Tianyi Holding, a property firm with interests in investment, planning, design, development, and management, located in Tianjin.</li> </ul> <p>Executives from the group of founding partners appeared and gave remarks at a launch event on Friday in MIT’s Samberg Conference Center.</p> <p>A separate symposium for the China Future City Lab, on Thursday, featured talks by several MIT faculty members, as well as remarks from Hashim Sarkis, dean of the School of Architecture and Planning, and Eran Ben-Joseph, head of the school’s Department of Urban Studies and Planning (DUSP).</p> <p>Zheng is the Samuel Tak Lee Associate Professor of Real Estate Development and Entrepreneurship in DUSP and the Center for Real Estate.</p> <p>On Friday, Lester lauded Zheng’s work, as both a researcher and a program-builder at the Institute. Zheng has formally been an MIT faculty member for less than a year, but, as Lester noted, she has quickly assembled the kinds of institutional and international support needed to launch a major new project.</p> <p>“In that short time, she has established herself as a real force, and a builder of new educational and research programs in the very best tradition of MIT,” Lester said.</p> <p>In her remarks, Zheng emphasized the open-ended nature of the new lab’s work. Set against an urbanizing population and the rapid economic growth of China this century, the nature of urban studies, she suggested, means that scholars need to be open-minded about the kinds of issues they will study and the methods they will use to examine them.</p> <p>“I’m sure we can explore more and more opportunities,” Zheng said.</p> MIT Associate Provost Richard Lester, left, during the launch of the China Future City Lab, Friday, November 17, 2017. Lester welcomed executives from the lab's group of founding partners at a formal signing ceremony. Image: Bryce VickmarkSchool of Architecture and Planning, Urban studies and planning, Center for Real Estate, Cities, Global, Real estate, International development, Startups, Innovation and Entrepreneurship (I&E), Research Cambridge City Council approves MIT’s Volpe zoning petition http://news.mit.edu/2017/cambridge-city-council-approves-mit-volpe-zoning-petition-1023 The 14-acre underutilized parcel in Kendall Square is set to be reimagined as a vibrant community. Mon, 23 Oct 2017 23:21:05 -0400 MIT News Office http://news.mit.edu/2017/cambridge-city-council-approves-mit-volpe-zoning-petition-1023 <p>On Monday night, the Cambridge City Council voted to approve MIT’s petition to rezone the site where the John A. Volpe National Transportation Systems Center currently operates.</p> <p>In an <a href="http://news.mit.edu/2017/agreement-redevelop-volpe-center-kendall-square-0118">agreement</a> with the federal government, MIT will build a new headquarters for the Volpe Center on approximately four acres of the parcel, and now with the city’s zoning approval, the Institute will advance a detailed plan to redevelop the remaining 10 acres. MIT’s proposal includes housing, commercial and lab space, retail, open space, and a variety of active community uses.</p> <p>“The Kendall Square&nbsp;innovation ecosystem&nbsp;has demonstrated&nbsp;a remarkable&nbsp;capacity to reinvent itself and evolve over time,” says MIT President L. Rafael Reif. “In&nbsp;that&nbsp;long evolution, the federal&nbsp;government’s&nbsp;decision to keep the Volpe Transportation Systems&nbsp;Center here with a reinvigorated presence, together with MIT’s plans to redevelop the remaining parcel, point the way to a compelling future. In guiding the redevelopment, our goal is to make the region’s innovation ecosystem even stronger, creating a dynamic and welcoming place to live and work, which will attract the industries of tomorrow and fuel academic and commercial research collaborations — all of which will help Kendall Square thrive over time by sustaining its creative evolution.”</p> <p>The Institute’s zoning <a href="https://volpe.mit.edu/wp-content/uploads/2017/10/PUD-7-Zoning-Ordinance-Amendment-10-19-2017.pdf">petition</a> was developed through a collaborative process involving the MIT community, residents from abutting neighborhoods, the Planning Board, city staff, and the City Council. Its components include:</p> <ul> <li>approximately 1.7 million square feet of commercial development, including retail and active street uses;</li> <li>approximately 1,400 housing units, representing 40 percent of the development and including 280 permanently subsidized affordable units and 20 middle-income units;</li> <li>a minimum of 5 percent innovation space for entrepreneurship and incubator activity;</li> <li>approximately 2.5 acres of open space on the MIT-owned land, which is a minimum of 25 percent of the site;</li> <li>height limits ranging from 170 feet to 500 feet (one residential building is slated for a potential 500-foot height); and</li> <li>retail and active street uses in a minimum of 65 percent of ground floors on the main streets of the parcel.</li> </ul> <p>“It’s the mix of commercial, residential, open space, retail, innovation space, active street use, and community space that will allow the Volpe site to ultimately become what we imagine,” says Israel Ruiz, MIT’s executive vice president and treasurer. “We’ve spent a lot of time looking at vital innovation centers around the world and know that each of these ingredients must be in place in order to create a highly functioning, nimble, and synergistic community.”</p> <p>A zoning petition is essentially a request of a municipality to grant development rights that don’t currently exist. Development rights come in the form of heights, building sizes, and uses, and allow a property owner to develop its project in a manner that is most fitting for the site and its surrounding context. “The Volpe parcel is in the center of the city’s business district on a major transportation node,” says Steve Marsh, MIT’s managing director of real estate. “It’s the perfect location to build because it will augment the city’s thriving knowledge economy and will create a stronger sense of community for all involved.”</p> <p>In exchange for commercial development rights, property owners are expected to provide benefits to the broader community. “We had some ideas about what might be beneficial for residents and businesses in the area, but we were delighted to work closely with residents, Kendall organizations, and city officials to learn more about the community’s most pressing needs in the context of our proposal,” Marsh adds.</p> <p>As a result, MIT’s approved zoning petition includes <a href="https://volpe.mit.edu/wp-content/uploads/2017/10/2017-10-23_MIT-Volpe_Final_Commitment_Letter.pdf">commitments</a> to a variety community benefits:</p> <ul> <li>implementation of a multiuse community path on MIT’s property in the Grand Junction railroad corridor;</li> <li>creation of an on-site community center with a job connector program;</li> <li>contribution toward transit improvement programs;</li> <li>support for ongoing innovation arts programs in Kendall Square;</li> <li>contribution to Cambridge’s fund for nonprofits; and</li> <li>support for ongoing community event programming in Kendall Square.</li> </ul> <p>As required by the City of Cambridge, the project will also contribute to the city’s Affordable Housing Trust, which provides resources to individuals and families seeking housing. This is in addition to the approximately 300 low- and middle-income units that will be included in the development.</p> <p>At Monday’s City Council meeting, Provost Martin Schmidt expressed the Institute’s appreciation to all involved in the zoning review: “MIT is grateful for the intense collaboration that has brought us all to this milestone in the Volpe process. From the outset, we knew that we couldn’t do it alone — and we didn’t want to. Along the way, MIT’s petition was improved by the aspirations of residents, the vision of public officials, and the careful examination by city staff.”</p> <p>MIT hosted more than 80 community meetings to gather input over the last nine months. “We tried to collect feedback in a variety of ways,” says Sarah Gallop, MIT’s co-director of government and community relations. “We planned traditional meetings with presentations and discussions, interactive workshops to promote dialogue, and large-scale events including a block party and a HUBweek showcase called ‘MIT/Kendall Square: Innovation Playground,’ to demonstrate ‘what could be’ on the Volpe site.”</p> <p>In response to the urging of MIT graduate students and the City Council, the zoning also includes a <a href="http://orgchart.mit.edu/node/5/letters_to_community/expanding-graduate-student-housing">commitment</a> to build 950 new graduate student units, which will allow the Institute to house more than 50 percent of its current graduate student population on campus.&nbsp;</p> <p>At the recent <a href="http://news.mit.edu/2017/art-and-dirt-bringing-cambridge-and-mit-communities-together-1023">groundbreaking</a> of MIT’s newest graduate residence hall, MIT Chancellor Cynthia Barnhart said: “The new 450-unit facility will not only increase MIT’s graduate student housing stock, but will provide an exciting center for our students to connect with the world, including other members of the MIT community, residents of the City of Cambridge, Kendall-based entrepreneurs, and innovation and industry partners.”</p> <p>Approximately 40 people spoke at Monday’s City Council meeting during the public comment period, predominately in favor of approving the zoning petition. Supporters cited the proposal’s <a href="https://volpe.mit.edu/wp-content/uploads/2017/10/VOLPE-CommunityBenefitsSummary-2017-10-16-1.pdf">community benefits</a> and specific zoning components that they believe are good for the city — such as affordable housing, the community center, the Grand Junction community path, the job connector program, and the publicly accessible open space.</p> <p>After a lengthy discussion among City Councillors, the body moved to approve the zoning petition. In summarizing the effort, Cambridge Mayor E. Denise Simmons said: “We have a good relationship with MIT, and we will continue to have productive dialogue. This is the first step in a series of steps.”</p> <p>Now that the City Council has approved the zoning for the site, the next step for the Volpe project will be formulation of a planned unit development, or PUD, for the parcel. The PUD will further define the buildings, uses, and spaces for the overall proposal. This work will be done in conjunction with the Planning Board and city staff within the context of a public review process.</p> <p>Once built and operating, MIT’s Volpe development will contribute an estimated $23 million in taxes annually to the City of Cambridge on what was previously a tax-exempt site.</p> <p>More information about the Volpe project is available at <a href="http://volpe.mit.edu/">volpe.mit.edu</a>.</p> A rendering of the open space as imagined in a site plan example, from the corner of Third Street and Broadway. Key features include public gathering spaces, retail kiosks, and water representing the continuation of Broad Canal. Courtesy of Elkus ManfrediKendall Square, Development, Real estate, Campus buildings and architecture, Cambridge, Boston and region, Community, Administration, Government, Innovation and Entrepreneurship (I&E), Startups MIT and Tsinghua University sign urban innovation agreement http://news.mit.edu/2017/mit-and-tsinghua-university-sign-urban-innovation-agreement-0919 Future City Innovation Connector to support projects addressing rapid growth of Chinese cities. Tue, 19 Sep 2017 16:30:00 -0400 MIT News Office http://news.mit.edu/2017/mit-and-tsinghua-university-sign-urban-innovation-agreement-0919 <p>MIT and Tsinghua University in China have signed an agreement establishing a new technology project, the Future City Innovation Connector (FCIC), which is designed to support research and startup teams applying ideas to China’s rapidly growing urban areas.</p> <p>FCIC will draw upon the work of MIT professors and labs to identify innovative concepts and technologies that could be implemented in China. At MIT, FCIC will be formally hosted in the MIT China Future City Lab. Its founder and faculty director is Siqi Zheng, the Samuel Tak Lee Associate Professor of Real Estate Development and Entrepreneurship, in MIT’s Department of Urban Studies and Planning and its Center for Real Estate. Zheng also holds a visiting professor position at Tsinghua University.</p> <p>The program will run in conjunction with the MIT School of Architecture and Planning’s entrepreneurship accelerator, DesignX. FCIC will also work extensively with Chinese municipal governments and industry leaders to support research and startup teams.</p> <p>The agreement was formally signed on Sept. 16 by MIT Provost Martin A. Schmidt and Tsinghua University Vice President and Provost Bin Yang. Richard Lester, MIT’s associate provost for international activities, also participated in the signing ceremony.</p> <p>“I am thrilled to see the launch of this new collaboration initiative,” Schmidt says. “Under the leadership of Professor Zheng, the MIT-Tsinghua Future City Innovation Connector will become the new starting point of a series of engagements between MIT and Tsinghua in entrepreneurship, education, and urban research.”</p> <p>Zheng, an expert on urban economics, development, and real estate, says “FCIC aims to support city innovation ideas and startup teams involving MIT and Tsinghua University students, across all disciplines, to make our cities better.”</p> <p>As Zheng also noted, FCIC can play a significant practical role by linking together researchers and entrepreneurs, on the one hand, with Chinese policymakers and industrial leaders. The project aims to establish collaborations with Chinese cities that face challenges such as urban resilience, urban health, housing, environmental sustainability, responsive urban management, and the development of “smart” cities.</p> <p>“Urban-focused research teams and startups&nbsp;face unique challenges when they want to work on urban problems in China,” Zheng adds. “Partnerships with city governments are most critical to the success of these teams. The MIT-Tsinghua Future City Innovation Connector will help the innovative urban research teams and startups at MIT and Tsinghua engage with the Chinese market and government resources to realize their societal impact and economic success.”</p> <p>FCIC is the first program of its kind that explicitly aims to apply the frontiers of urban research and technology to the immense urbanization occuring in China, which should be powered by technological innovation and new business ventures, FCIC leaders believe.</p> <p>“The rich academic intellectual resources and active entrepreneurship ecosystem at both universities have huge potential to land its impact in Chinese cities,” Bin Yang says. “MIT-Tsinghua FCIC will build broad partnership with local city and industries to scale up its impact. It is of great meaning to MIT, Tsinghua University, local governments, and industry leaders.”</p> <p>MIT and Tsinghua University have developed extensive formal collaborations in recent decades, across a range of areas involving their shared commitment to research, education, and the support of entrepreneurship.</p> Pictured from left: Siqi Zheng, Samuel Tak Lee Associate Professor and faculty director of China Future City Lab; Bin Yang, vice president and provost of Tsinghua University; Martin Schmidt, MIT provost; Richard Lester, MIT associate provost for international activities; Zhengzhen Tan, executive director of China Future City Lab Courtesy of the MIT China Future City LabSchool of Architecture and Planning, Urban studies and planning, Center for Real Estate, China, Cities, Global, Real estate, International development, Research, Startups 3 Questions: Brent Ryan on Hurricane Harvey’s implications for U.S. cities http://news.mit.edu/2017/3-questions-brent-ryan-on-hurricane-harvey-implications-for-us-cities-0901 Stranded in Houston by hurricane floodwaters, an MIT associate professor sees firsthand how design and policy decisions affected the storm’s impact. Fri, 01 Sep 2017 12:55:02 -0400 School of Architecture and Planning http://news.mit.edu/2017/3-questions-brent-ryan-on-hurricane-harvey-implications-for-us-cities-0901 <p><em>Flying through Texas last weekend on his way to a workshop in Mexico, Brent Ryan found himself stranded at a hotel near Houston’s Bush International Airport as a result of Hurricane Harvey’s catastrophic flooding. An associate professor of urban design and planning at MIT, Ryan and two of his graduate students watched the waters rise and considered the implications of the disaster unfolding around them.</em></p> <p><em>Ryan, who heads the City Design and Development Group in the Department of Urban Studies and Planning (DUSP), is no stranger to cities and natural disasters. He has studied </em><a href="https://stl.mit.edu/project/developing-littoral-gradient" target="_blank"><em>coastal development in China</em></a><em>, co-led an interdisciplinary team exploring strategies for </em><a href="https://lcau.mit.edu/project/rising-tides-relocation-and-sea-level-rise-metropolitan-boston" target="_blank"><em>Boston’s adaptation to climate change</em></a><em>, and this summer taught a graduate practicum focused on </em><a href="https://dusp.mit.edu/subject/fall-2017-11s938" target="_blank"><em>disaster-resilient communities and housing in India</em></a><em>. Last January, a team including Ryan and other MIT faculty were winners in a design competition to envision how policy changes, new investments, and innovative thinking could </em><a href="http://architecture.mit.edu/architecture-and-urbanism/project/bight-coastal-urbanism" target="_blank"><em>reshape the coasts of New York and New Jersey</em></a><em> and prepare them for the next 25 years.</em></p> <p><em>After safely departing from Houston, Ryan shared his account of what he observed during the hurricane, offered his thoughts on human decisions that contributed to the scale of the destruction — and explained why he believes the disaster ought to prompt soul-searching about where and how we build communities. </em></p> <p><strong>Q. </strong>How did you get caught up in the hurricane in Houston and what did you see there?</p> <p><strong>A:</strong> I flew into Houston last week with the weather worsening. And I think none of us — whether it was the news agencies or the airports or travelers — had any idea that we should have left as soon as we could have. By Saturday afternoon it started raining really hard and it just didn't stop raining. Our flight was cancelled, so we rebooked from Dallas. I had rented a car preemptively on Saturday, which was really lucky. But on Sunday morning, we got up to leave and realized the roads in all directions were closed off by floods. Together with two master’s students, I was more or less trapped for 48 hours. Nobody panicked, but when you think, “I'm cut off by floodwaters and I don’t know for how long,” it starts to get really scary.</p> <p>We were all sitting there on Sunday thinking about the storm’s impact, asking ourselves, “How did things get this way? What went wrong?” In a sense, it really was a perfect storm because you have a city that's sprawling, hasn't been carefully constructed, and lacks environmental sensitivity in its development patterns — and it got the heaviest storm that you could possibly imagine.</p> <p>Houston is a very wet area. It’s low lying, it has clay soils, it’s poorly drained. We realized as we were looking at the map — thinking, How did these airport roads get flooded? — that, essentially, what we were seeing was the runoff from the airport runways draining into what are called bayous in Houston. We realized that the airport access roads had cut across the drainage routes for these bayous in a very casual way. They had not been engineered to really confront any substantial amount of flooding. That's what trapped us at the airport. Regionally, we noticed that even interstate highways were flooded because the engineering of the roadway system wasn't enough to accommodate the degree of water that was generated.</p> <p>Part two of Houston's problems is the region’s absolutely sprawling, auto-oriented development. You have parking lots, wide roads, impervious surfaces, and uncontrolled development that more or less ignores environmentally sensitive areas. With an event like this, it becomes viscerally evident which residential areas are absolutely not safe from even moderate flooding. Driving out, it was so sad: We were driving past all this water, stretching for as far as the eye could see with houses poking out of it.</p> <p><strong>Q. </strong>How does Houston recover and plan for the future?</p> <p><strong>A: </strong>I think you need to start at the regional level first, from a life-safety perspective and from a critical regional infrastructure perspective. It’s absolutely unacceptable that both airports shut down and major interstate highways closed. Once that happens, the area is essentially closed to the outside world. I think Houston needs to generate a whole new set of engineering standards in conjunction with environmental engineering analysis of the area that says, “We can't build this way anymore, and we have to rebuild a lot of places that we thought were okay.”</p> <p>A secondary priority for life safety is either discouraging or prohibiting settlement in low-lying areas — and there's so much of that in Houston. There are a lot of residential neighborhoods that are getting flooded two, three, four, five times a year. These are areas in flood-prone zones and they're not going to be safe from future flooding. There’s no doubt about it.</p> <p>But Houston is famous for having no zoning. They're not going to tell people how they can build or where; it's all up to the market. And the market has made a lot of decisions that are absolutely not in context and not sensitive to the environmental needs of the area. I think Houston really needs to do some soul searching about how they govern land use and residential development.</p> <p>Whether or not you think that climate change is an issue, there's not anyone out there who doesn't see that Hurricane Harvey just came in and destroyed or damaged half of the city of Houston. Whatever the cause of Harvey’s strength, I think serious provisions need to be made for ensuring that the city doesn't shut down in this type of storm again. But that serious commitment is going to have to go up against a lot of anti-government ideology, and a lot of skepticism about regional planning and regional governance. In that sense Houston is going to face real dilemmas — ideological and practical — as it faces the future.</p> <p><strong>Q: </strong>You’ve studied disaster preparedness and resilient urban design around the globe. Are you able to draw any lessons from Houston based on your experience in different regions and contexts?</p> <p><strong>A: </strong>Yes, a significant lesson, for better or worse, is that top-down planning allows you to make decisions and to fund those decisions more easily with respect to resilience.</p> <p>China is not a democratic country, but it has top-down planning. The central government allocates the funding and local government essentially falls in line and does what the central government says. There’s no disagreement in the Netherlands that large-scale governance is critical to providing protection from water. It’s a country that has become a leading example in how you can use design, planning, and engineering in concert to plan effectively for these types of problems. The Dutch are the classic example, but I think once China decides to confront sea-level rise directly, it's going to do so swiftly.</p> <p>It's a lot more complicated in the United States. The New York region we studied after Hurricane Sandy has something like 250 separate municipalities. Each of these municipalities is facing its financial future more or less on its own. Each is responsive to its own citizens, who may be skeptical of relocation. Each governs its own land-use pattern. America's local governance and lack of regional planning really doesn't serve the United States well with respect to this kind of problem, whereas I think European and Asian governments — where there's a lot more trust in the higher levels of government and a tradition of central government abundantly funding planning and design decisions — are better prepared to deal with this.</p> <p>I don’t want to label the Harvey disaster a wake-up call, because we've had a few wake-up calls already. But it's a reminder that the manifestation of climate change or climate severity can affect different cities in different ways. It's a reminder of how many of our cities and regions are vulnerable. And it’s an absolute reminder of the imperative for us to think hard about what types of measures we can generate to create more resilient regions.</p> Texas Army National Guardsmen help Houston residents affected by flooding caused by Hurricane Harvey board a military vehicle. "With an event like this," says MIT associate professor of urban planning Brent Ryan, "it becomes viscerally evident which residential areas are absolutely not safe from even moderate flooding."Photo: Lt. Zachary West/U.S. Army National Guard3 Questions, Natural disasters, Urban studies and planning, Design, Weather, Climate, Climate change, Water, Policy, Transportation, Development, Cities, Faculty, Real estate, Business and management, School of Architecture and Planning, Economics MIT files rezoning petition for Volpe site http://news.mit.edu/2017/mit-files-rezoning-petition-volpe-site-0621 Submittal of mixed-use proposal launches public hearing process. Wed, 21 Jun 2017 16:00:00 -0400 MIT News Office http://news.mit.edu/2017/mit-files-rezoning-petition-volpe-site-0621 <p>Since January, when MIT and the U.S. General Services Administration (GSA) finalized an <a href="http://news.mit.edu/2017/agreement-redevelop-volpe-center-kendall-square-0118">agreement</a> for the redevelopment of the Volpe parcel in Kendall Square, an active effort has been underway to collect input about the future of the 14-acre site. Now, after five months of meetings and the consideration of feedback from two key working groups (one MIT-based, and one Cambridge-based), the Institute has officially filed a mixed-use rezoning <a href="https://volpe.mit.edu/">petition</a> for the parcel, which is located near MIT’s campus.</p> <p>The proposal builds on several years of community-wide discussion and analysis, and includes a variety of components — including housing, retail, open space, community space, and commercial and lab space — that will serve to create a new, vibrant hub of activity on the last undeveloped parcel in Kendall Square.</p> <p>“We’ve been guided by President Reif’s vision that re-imagining the Volpe parcel is a critical step in advancing the Kendall Square innovation ecosystem,” says Executive Vice President and Treasurer Israel Ruiz. MIT President L. Rafael Reif’s January <a href="http://president.mit.edu/speeches-writing/exciting-news-about-kendall-square-neighborhood-and-our-future">message</a> to the MIT community about the potential of the Volpe site described the synergistic relationship between MIT and Kendall Square: “Our future success depends on making sure that Kendall succeeds as a place —&nbsp;a place where people want to live, work, and play, and a place that makes our city stronger too.”</p> <p><strong>Zoning petition</strong></p> <p>In his cover letter to the Cambridge City Council, Ruiz described the proposed redevelopment as “a unique and transformational opportunity for our entire community.” In addition to the principal mixed-use elements of the plan, the zoning petition contains provisions that address specific Cambridge, MIT, and Kendall Square needs.</p> <p>The proposal:</p> <ul> <li>requires that 40 percent of the site’s square footage be designated for residential use;</li> <li>provides for the creation of up to 1,400 units of new housing, with as many as 280 units being available for low- and moderate-income households, including as many as 56 family-sized units;</li> <li>provides for vibrant and active retail on the site;</li> <li>continues MIT’s strong commitment to innovation space and sustainability;</li> <li>provides for the creation of substantial amounts of connected open space;</li> <li>commits to the design and construction of community space;</li> <li>establishes funding mechanisms for MIT payments allocated as follows: <ul style="list-style-type:circle;"> <li>50 percent toward transportation-related improvements</li> <li>50 percent toward a community benefits fund.</li> </ul> </li> </ul> <p>The rezoning submittal also includes several different site plan examples, all of which could be accommodated within the proposed zoning. The examples show variations on the&nbsp;placement and configuration of the open space, as well as the commercial and residential buildings.</p> <p><strong>New Volpe headquarters</strong></p> <p>“Working with the GSA has been very productive, and I’ve been pleased to see the community-oriented focus of the Volpe officials,” says Steve Marsh, managing director of real estate in MIT’s Investment Management Company (MITIMCo). “The John A. Volpe National Transportation Systems Center is an incredibly important research organization, and I know that all of us in Cambridge are grateful that the Center has decided to re-invigorate its presence in Kendall Square.”</p> <p>A critical element of the MIT-GSA agreement is the stipulation that a new Volpe headquarters be designed and constructed first, before the remainder of the parcel is developed. Since the federal government is exempt from local zoning regulations, that effort is underway. Volpe officials and MIT staff are working with architectural firm Skidmore, Owings, and Merrill to design the new building.</p> <p>“We think it’s critical to advance MIT’s zoning petition now, so it can be considered at the same time that we’re designing the Volpe Center and its environs. In that manner, we can ensure maximum synergies between the new Volpe building’s presence, and the look and feel of the buildings and open space on the rest of the site,” Marsh says. “In fact, MIT and the federal government have hired the same landscape architect — Reed-Hilderbrand — in an effort to optimize the seamlessness of the entire development.”</p> <p><strong>Two working groups</strong></p> <p>Ruiz and Provost Martin Schmidt established a MIT Volpe working group in January 2017 to advise to the team developing the Institute’s plan for the Volpe site. The group was asked by the provost to provide an academic perspective to the planning process, helping to identify opportunities to create a vibrant development that complements and strengthens the Kendall Square innovation ecosystem.</p> <p>Steven Hall, professor of aeronautics and astronautics, who served as chair of the group, reported preliminary findings of the effort to Schmidt, senior officers, and MIT’s deans. “We solicited input from faculty, staff, and students, and we were gratified to hear from nearly 100 people about the future of the Volpe site,” Hall says. “Our group, which included faculty and students, examined multiple aspects of the proposed redevelopment and determined what issues are important to our community and the Institute based on what we learned and the input that we received.”</p> <p>Hall reported that the MIT working group’s findings, which should be issued formally by the end of June, address topics related to housing affordability and diversity, amenities and vital living space, transportation and infrastructure, open space, and continued engagement with the MIT community — including around plans for graduate student housing, broader integration of campus planning efforts, sustainability, and architecture.</p> <p>“I’m thankful to Steve Hall and the entire MIT Volpe working group for taking on this important responsibility,” Schmidt says. “The areas of focus that the group has identified are vital to the success of the Volpe development and MIT’s future, and they will be integral to the process ahead.”</p> <p>Schmidt adds, “The Working Group also highlighted topics which it believes warrant continued attention through our campus planning processes — most notably the need to add to our graduate housing stock. The new graduate residence hall in Kendall Square, which is underway, will help, but we need to continue to increase our capacity as recommended by the 2014 Graduate Student Housing Working Group <a href="http://orgchart.mit.edu/node/6/letters_to_community/final-report-graduate-student-housing-working-group">report</a> prepared by Professor Philip Clay.”</p> <p>Meanwhile, before his retirement, former Cambridge City Manager Richard Rossi established a Cambridge Volpe working group of residents, business representatives, city staff and officials, and MIT representatives (once the Institute was designated as the developer) to examine the potential development of the Volpe site. That group was asked to prepare an urban design framework and planning principles, and has been working steadily since October 2016, building on several years of study carried out by city staff and the Cambridge Planning Board. A draft set of <a href="http://www.cambridgema.gov/CDD/Projects/Zoning/pudksvolpesite">Planning and Design Principles</a> has been developed as a result of the group’s examination, which will serve to steer the zoning discussions.</p> <p><strong>Community input</strong></p> <p>MIT began seeking input on the potential redevelopment of the Volpe parcel soon after the agreement with the federal government was finalized. The process of collecting feedback kicked off with two community-wide meetings in February which attracted approximately 200 MIT and Cambridge individuals. After that, MIT staff participated in more than 50 meetings with elected officials, neighborhood groups, civic associations, residents, city planning staff, and the MIT and the Cambridge Volpe working groups.</p> <p>“Every time we meet with people, whether it’s in the setting of a large public meeting, or a conversation with a few residents, we learn something important,” says Co-Director of Government and Community Relations Sarah Gallop. “The perspective of each person or group is valid and must be considered. In the end, we’ll need to collectively evaluate the decisions before us, particularly those related to retail, open space, and the nature of the proposed community space. For now, we’re grateful to all who have contributed their ideas and observations, and look forward to the continued dialogue during the public hearing process.”</p> <p><strong>Going forward</strong></p> <p>Once the rezoning petition is referred by the City Council to the state-mandated public process, hearings will be scheduled with the City Council’s Ordinance Committee and the Planning Board to review the Institute’s proposal.</p> <p>The Institute is hosting a community-wide Volpe workshop on Thursday, June 29, at the Boston Marriott Cambridge from 5:30 to 7:30 pm. All are welcome. This activity-based interactive program will focus on the three primary topics that have arisen from the community dialogue to-date: retail, open space, and the proposal to establish community space.</p> <p>More background and information about the Volpe project, including several presentations, can be found here: <a href="https://volpe.mit.edu/">https://volpe.mit.edu/</a></p> <p>Questions, feedback, and ideas about the Volpe redevelopment may be sent to the Volpe team at: <a href="mailto:volpemit@mit.edu">volpemit@mit.edu</a></p> A lively streetscape extending Broad Canal Way into the Volpe site, with active uses and retail leading pedestrians and bicyclists into the open space. Image: Elkus Manfredi ArchitectsKendall Square, Development, Real estate, Campus buildings and architecture, Cambridge, Boston and region, Community, Administration, Government, Innovation and Entrepreneurship (I&E), Startups, Students Building to better weather the storm http://news.mit.edu/2017/mit-cshub-dashboard-helps-builders-take-construction-measures-to-mitigate-hurricane-damage-0613 New dashboard developed by the MIT Concrete Sustainability Hub helps builders calculate the breakeven cost of hazard mitigation in hurricane-prone areas. Tue, 13 Jun 2017 16:55:01 -0400 Anne Wilson Yu | Concrete Sustainability Hub http://news.mit.edu/2017/mit-cshub-dashboard-helps-builders-take-construction-measures-to-mitigate-hurricane-damage-0613 <p>The Atlantic hurricane season has officially begun and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration&nbsp;(NOAA) is predicting&nbsp;<a href="http://www.noaa.gov/media-release/above-normal-atlantic-hurricane-season-is-most-likely-year" target="_blank">“above normal” storm activity</a> this year. That could mean significant damage to coastal communities — some of which are still recovering from last year’s hurricane season.</p> <p>As officials in hurricane-prone communities are calling on residents to be prepared&nbsp;for upcoming storms, researchers with the <a href="https://cshub.mit.edu/" target="_blank">MIT Concrete Sustainability Hub (CSHub)</a> are encouraging officials to make preparation a priority from the very earliest stages of building design, starting with data-driven changes to building codes.</p> <p>To help, CSHub has&nbsp;developed a new&nbsp;dashboard&nbsp;that lets users calculate, on a county-by-county basis, the right amount to spend up front on hazard mitigation for residential buildings in hurricane-prone communities along on the U.S. East&nbsp;and Gulf coasts. The tool lets users determine how much can be invested in mitigation&nbsp;during construction while still breaking even on future repair costs, and is based on case studies that employed the CSHub’s&nbsp;<a href="http://cshub.mit.edu/news/research-brief-break-even-hazard-mitigation-metric" target="_blank">Break-Even Mitigation Percentage (BEMP)</a>.</p> <p>“Designing homes and buildings in hazard-prone areas with the expectation that damage will occur can make communities safer and reduce the costly repairs that follow extreme weather events,” says Jeremy Gregory, executive director of the CSHub. “In areas prone to natural disasters, more spending on mitigation is absolutely justified. The BEMP helps to identify how much extra spending is recommended, and the dashboard makes it faster and easier to see that calculation.”</p> <p>Mehdi Noori, a CSHub&nbsp;postdoc,&nbsp;is the developer behind the&nbsp;dashboard&nbsp;and is now leading the effort. The CSHub team introduced the BEMP calculation last year when the project was headed by&nbsp;researcher T. Reed Miller, who is now a PhD&nbsp;student at Yale.</p> <p>“Through the BEMP and the dashboard, we’re offering a more scientific approach to support investment in hazard mitigation,”&nbsp;Noori says.</p> <p>The BEMP uses publicly-available data about hazards in a given area and employs fragility curves to determine the impact of those hazards on a given structure. The&nbsp;dashboard tool allows users to calculate the break-even cost for a change from a baseline wood design to an enhanced concrete design for a multi-family residential building.</p> <p>Noori says preliminary results of the analysis indicate that the BEMP is higher in areas near the coasts.&nbsp;In Florida’s Miami-Dade and neighboring Monroe counties, for example, an extra amount equaling around 17 to 18 percent of initial total investment could be spent on hazard mitigation and still result in break even costs over the lifetime of the building. Even so, some communities inland "would also benefit from windstorm mitigation mechanisms,” Noori says.</p> <p>Noori notes that there were 15 weather and climate disasters in the U.S. last year that each had losses exceeding $1 billion. Losses due to extreme weather events, including hurricanes, could again be significant this year.</p> <p>An average season produces 12 named storms of which six become hurricanes, including three major hurricanes.&nbsp;<a href="http://www.noaa.gov/media-release/above-normal-atlantic-hurricane-season-is-most-likely-year" target="_blank">According to NOAA</a>, forecasters are predicting “a 70 percent likelihood of 11 to 17 named storms" with winds of 39 mph or higher. Of those, five to nine could become hurricanes with winds of 74 mph or higher, including two to four Category 3, 4, or 5 hurricanes with&nbsp;winds of 111 mph or higher.</p> <p>Across the country, builders make decisions about which materials or techniques to use first with costs in mind. Although the resulting structures are technically built to code, in many hazard-prone communities&nbsp;the long-term costs of repairs and&nbsp;the impact of those early decisions mean greater financial burdens for future owners and the community at large.</p> <p>“In some areas of the country, coastal communities especially, hazard-induced maintenance costs can be significant over a building’s lifetime —&nbsp;sometimes even exceeding the initial building cost,” Gregory says. “Our goal through this project is to drive the widespread adoption of codes that take hazard mitigation into account. By adopting stronger codes, communities can reduce recovery costs and also lessen the impact on human lives.”</p> <p>CSHub's work also includes <a href="https://cshub.mit.edu/pavements" target="_blank">pavement</a> and <a href="https://cshub.mit.edu/concrete-science" target="_blank">concrete science</a> research and seeks to reduce the impact of the production and use of concrete. It also develops tools that support infrastructure decisions, including life cycle environmental impacts, life cycle costs, and hazard resistance. CSHub research is supported by the Portland Cement Association&nbsp;and the Ready Mixed Concrete Research and Education Foundation.</p> Inspectors assess the damage to a home on the Florida coast following Hurricane Matthew, which struck in October 2016.Photo courtesy of FEMA.School of Engineering, Civil and environmental engineering, Government, Real estate, Software, Weather, Concrete, Data, Natural disasters, Materials Science and Engineering 3Q: Siqi Zheng on air quality and urban development in China http://news.mit.edu/2017/3q-siqi-zheng-on-air-quality-and-urban-development-in-china-0519 Author of “Blue Skies over Beijing” links Chinese air quality and urban development. Fri, 19 May 2017 15:20:01 -0400 Joanne Wong | School of Architecture and Planning http://news.mit.edu/2017/3q-siqi-zheng-on-air-quality-and-urban-development-in-china-0519 <p><em>MIT Professor Siqi Zheng is the Samuel Tak Lee Associate Professor of Real Estate Development and Entrepreneurship within MIT's Department of Urban Studies and Planning and Center for Real Estate. She is also faculty director of the MIT Samuel Tak Lee Real Estate Entrepreneurship Lab and author, with Matthew E. Kahn, of "<a href="http://press.princeton.edu/titles/10701.html" target="_blank">Blue Skies over Beijing: Economic Growth and the Environment in China</a>" (Princeton University Press, 2016). The book takes a microeconomic perspective on how pollution affects Chinese cities, and it recently won an honorable mention in the category of environmental science at the 2017 PROSE Awards, sponsored by the Association of American Publishers.</em></p> <p><em>Zheng holds a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering from Tsinghua University, where she also earned a PhD in urban economics and real estate and taught for 10 years after doing postdoctoral work at Harvard University. On her approach to research, she says, “I realized that just studying the housing market is a bit narrow, and we need to understand housing from the urban perspective. People come to the city for good jobs, or amenities like schools, health care, museums, and other public services. In cities with cleaner air or in areas with big parks, housing prices tend to be higher, all else being equal. That was my starting point to look at environmental topics.” Zheng spoke with the School of Architecture and Planning about "Blue Skies" and today's environmental and economic realities in China.</em></p> <p><strong>Q:</strong> Your book uses stories about individuals to demonstrate the impact of pollution on the urban population in China. Why did you and your coauthor use this as a technique to understand advances in sustainable development and environmental planning?</p> <p><strong>A: </strong>My coauthor and I have written many papers together, published in academic journals. When we decided to write a book, we wanted to generate impact not only for academics but also for policy makers and the general public. That’s why we chose to use individual stories. The basic logic of the book builds on our papers, but we don’t have regression tables in there. We want Chinese policy makers to read this and change their minds. I also rewrote this book in Chinese and it generated some impact.</p> <p>We also considered the readers here in the United States. Many Americans only hear about carbon emissions from China and how that will have negative impact for the United States, but they don’t care about local pollution in China because it has nothing to do with them. We want to change that thinking. We can’t only care about global-scale climate change; we also need to consider the local quality of life because these two things are closely related. If you want to know more about China’s future, you need to understand its local life.</p> <p><strong>Q: </strong>The debate between economic growth and sustainable development is a contested one here in the United States and in China as well. What do you think is a good way for us to think about these seemingly incompatible priorities and how to reconcile them?</p> <p><strong>A: </strong>There are two ways to think of this. One way is spatial. There is a huge variation in economic growth among Chinese cities, with rich ones on the coast and poor ones inland. Richer cities now have reached a stage where they care more about the environment because they are transitioning from the old manufacturing-dominated model to new, human-capital-driven economic growth. They need to improve quality of life in the whole city to attract highly skilled workers.</p> <p>Cleaning the air is not throwing money away; it’s actually an investment to generate a return through the arrival of new human capital and its contribution to the economy. Poor cities, however, have no choice. They still need those dirty factories for tax revenue and GDP growth. They have to receive the incoming dirty factories that may be driven out of rich cities. That is the spatial perspective, and it may be one cause of inequality.</p> <p>The other perspective is temporal. When China has high economic growth and everything is booming, the central government really wants to push local governments to go green and regulate the dirty industries. But when there is a downturn in the macro economy, they become hesitant because they still need those heavy industries to generate jobs. It’s like a policy cycle. Now that we are in economic decline, the central and local governments are once again investing a lot in the manufacturing sector, and you will observe that air quality in some cities has started to worsen again.</p> <p><strong>Q: </strong>The rising Chinese middle class wants a lifestyle similar to that of the middle class in other developed countries, but they are being told that they cannot have the material things that others may take for granted, because of environmental concerns. Does that makes it difficult for the environmental cause?</p> <p><strong>A:</strong> We need to acknowledge the reality that China is very big, and major Chinese cities have extremely high density. And with rising income, private car ownership has experienced a sharp increase in China, so in Beijing and Shanghai there are driving restrictions and license auctions.</p> <p>Urban planners need to consider how to reconcile people’s demand for better quality of life with &nbsp;other constraints. Environmental constraints are one, land constraints are another. We cannot convert all farm land to urban use. That’s a special challenge for urban planners in China. We need to make more trade-offs between people’s private demand and ways to mitigate the negative externalities they create.</p> <p>Let me give you three examples from the transportation sector. If we build enough public transit—especially a subway system—that would encourage people to use the subway instead of driving. In my research, I found that when a subway station opens, nearby households do increase their subway rideshare, at the expense of driving. Our suggestion for planners is to change the zoning in areas close to subway stops to increase residential density, so that those areas can accommodate more housing units.</p> <p>Another of my papers demonstrates that high-income and low-income people actually have a similar willingness to pay for a square meter of housing in those good locations around subway stations. But because the size of those houses is large, low-income households cannot afford to live there. But if you build small units in high density in those places, it will help lower-income people afford those units and have a convenient commute.</p> <p>The third example is about traffic management. Current urban traffic management in China is inadequate, meaning that given the same number of cars, Chinese cities experience more congestion than, for example, Tokyo. If we have more efficient traffic management, we can effectively reduce congestion and other negative externalities, with the same number of cars on the road. We cannot just restrict cars without considering our management skills and people’s driving habits.&nbsp;</p> "We can’t only care about global-scale climate change; we also need to consider the local quality of life because these two things are closely related. If you want to know more about China’s future, you need to understand its local life," says Siqi Zheng, faculty director of the Samuel Tak Lee MIT Real Estate Entrepreneurship Lab.Photo: Tom Gearty3 Questions, Faculty, Books and authors, China, Urban studies and planning, Center for Real Estate, STL Lab, Real estate, Housing, Economics, Environment, Pollution, School of Architecture and Planning 3 Questions: How urbanization and revolutionary innovation are shaping global real estate http://news.mit.edu/2017/mit-albert-saiz-how-urbanization-and-innovation-are-shaping-global-real-estate-0503 The Center for Real Estate’s Albert Saiz talks about worldwide trends affecting housing, commercial real estate, and investment in the built environment. Wed, 03 May 2017 10:30:00 -0400 Michael Hoban | School of Architecture and Planning http://news.mit.edu/2017/mit-albert-saiz-how-urbanization-and-innovation-are-shaping-global-real-estate-0503 <p><em>Around the world, more and more people are moving to cities. The increase in urbanization is paralleled by revolutionary advances in digital technology, innovation in the built environment, and new modes for how real estate is transacted and conducted. This&nbsp;combination has created significant opportunities — as well as challenges — for the global real estate industry. The MIT Center for Real Estate (CRE) will host its annual World Real Estate Forum&nbsp;on May 18-19, bringing together MIT faculty and researchers and industry thought leaders from more than 20 countries. This year’s agenda will delve deeply into issues related to the intersection of innovation and urbanization and their implications for cities and real estate markets worldwide.</em></p> <p><em>Albert Saiz is the director of CRE and the Daniel Rose Associate Professor of Urban Economics and Real Estate. He also leads the MIT Urban Economics Lab, which studies real estate economics, urban economics, housing markets, local public finance, zoning regulations, global real estate, and demographic trends affecting urban and real estate development. The School of Architecture and Planning recently asked Saiz to share his insights into developing trends around the world in the built environment, housing, and commercial real estate, and where global capital is likely to be deployed in the near future.</em></p> <p><strong>Q:</strong> With the trend toward urbanization, what kinds of innovative approaches to housing are being developed to meet the increasing demand in cities?</p> <p><strong>A:</strong> Quite frankly, I think a lot of what is going on is business as usual. If you look at China or some of the other developing economies that are growing — Vietnam, Indonesia, Malaysia — you see the same models of development, ones that are based on very large multifamily buildings that are built in isolation and separated by parks or roads, instead of adjacent buildings in high- density areas such as you find in Europe or Boston. The lack of contiguity is not good because it generates sprawl and is based on car usage, which is increasing in those developing economies.</p> <p>On the positive side, we can talk about 3-D printing construction and stackable units, but what is actually more exciting is the very low hanging fruit — innovations that are sort of mundane but can really reduce construction costs, such as building more concrete factories in sub-Saharan Africa. I very much like the ideas of Chilean architect Alejandro Aravena and his firm Elemental. He constructs “incremental housing,” where half of a house and just the shell for the other half is constructed using government funds. As the families who move into these houses save money, they can progressively build out the other, incomplete half of the house using sweat equity.</p> <p>Because we have to house so many new people worldwide, especially at the low end, a lot of the advancements are going to be geared toward producing housing typologies that are cheap, versatile, and customizable. I like the Skanska-IKEA model, called BoKlok, which uses Skanska’s construction expertise with a typical IKEA interior design to produce pre-designed homes. It’s a very streamlined industrial process aimed at minimizing construction costs.</p> <p>We are also watching innovation in microunits, modular housing, new construction materials, and a lot of advancements in architectural modeling and Building Information Modeling, or BIM. Many of these things are going to crystallize globally for use in the lower to middle end of the market.</p> <p><strong>Q:</strong> What are some of the trends that are happening globally in terms of commercial real estate development?</p> <p><strong>A:</strong> In terms of industrial real estate, the innovation is going to be in new logistics facilities. We’re seeing a revolution in the way that people do logistics — more automatization, more multifunctional spaces that can adapt to different users, and a much greater need for flexibility. I also think you’re going to see more fabrication space, with small, local factories focused on design or products that can be pre-printed — because 3-D printers are going to be so much better in 20 years. We’re going to have a lot of production by small artisans, with increasing customization, and it’s going to bring more production back to the cities. This trend will be amplified by growing consumer demand for things that are organic, environmentally sensible, and produced locally, not shipped 10,000 kilometers using fossil fuels.</p> <p>The other trend that is emerging is the repurposing of existing buildings for other uses. For instance, industrial space around the world is now being transformed into technology space&nbsp;in places like London, Barcelona, Turin, Glasgow, and the U.S. We’re going to see more flexible use of space, where a retail space might become an internet app lab after a few years, and then 10 years later, may take a different use.</p> <p>Many cities now have central amenity districts, areas that are devoted to the live, work, and play concept. You see it not only in Europe but in places like Oklahoma City, where a real vibrancy is provided by this type of infill redevelopment. These developments are often very expensive, with a lot of public use, so we’re going to see an increase in public-private partnerships.</p> <p><strong>Q:</strong> The past few years have seen a significant influx of capital entering the U.S. commercial real estate market. Looking ahead, where else is capital likely to be deployed?</p> <p><strong>A:</strong> Some of the trends depend on what’s going to happen with China and other countries with current account surplus or with economic and political instability. Although China’s economy is still growing quite fast, it is decelerating. If it slows any more, or stops, there could be a slight correction in the pricing of commercial real estate assets. I certainly think the U.S. is still very attractive for real estate investment, and we’re seeing the appreciation of the dollar.</p> <p>I think foreign investors are not being as cautious about the current U.S. administration as we may have expected. Despite the current administration’s “America first” rhetoric, Donald Trump’s businesses have partially been based on investing abroad and on using foreign capital. Trump’s policies are therefore unlikely to hurt the interests of major global real estate investors. In parallel, a healthy appetite for core assets from global investors is driving down yields in major cities around the world, and not only in the U.S. We’re still the safe, stable refuge for capital, despite the relatively low yields, and there is growing appetite for U.S. secondary markets.</p> <p>There is also an interesting phenomenon occurring recently in China. China has been tightening the outflows of capital because they want to keep their currency relatively stable. I think that’s one of the uncertainties in the market right now. A lot of Chinese investment capital, however, was already offshore or in Hong Kong. The ability of the Chinese government to stop those investors and keep the dollars in China remains an unknown.</p> Albert Saiz, director of the MIT Center for Real Estate, focuses on the confluence of urban policy, economic development, and real estate markets.Photo: Justin KnightFaculty, Architecture, Urban studies and planning, Center for Real Estate, School of Architecture and Planning, China, Real estate, Housing, Economics, 3 Questions MIT signs agreement to redevelop Volpe Center http://news.mit.edu/2017/agreement-redevelop-volpe-center-kendall-square-0118 Institute will build new federal building, mixed-use development on the 14-acre parcel in Kendall Square. Wed, 18 Jan 2017 09:00:00 -0500 Rob Matheson | MIT News Office http://news.mit.edu/2017/agreement-redevelop-volpe-center-kendall-square-0118 <p>MIT today signed an agreement with the U.S. General Services Administration (GSA) to redevelop the John A. Volpe National Transportation Systems Center, with aims of turning the federally owned 14-acre parcel in Kendall Square into a more vibrant mixed-use site that will benefit MIT’s mission and the Cambridge community.</p> <p>The agreement means that MIT will ultimately acquire most of the parcel — which President L. Rafael Reif described in a letter to the MIT community today as “an opening that will not come again: 14 acres, mostly underdeveloped, nearly contiguous with our campus and in the thick of Kendall Square.”</p> <p>Last November, after a lengthy bidding process, the GSA selected MIT as its initial partner to construct a new federal building on the Volpe Center site, which sits in close proximity to MIT’s campus on Broadway, across from the Boston Marriott Cambridge. In exchange, following construction of the new building, the Institute will receive ownership of the balance of the property, which it will then develop. Today’s agreement marks the GSA’s official acceptance of MIT’s bid of $750 million.</p> <p>Two identical MIT-sponsored community meetings are planned for Thursday, Feb. 16: at noon in Building 1-190; and again at 5:30 p.m. at the Marriott Cambridge, Salons 5 - 7.</p> <p>“When this parcel became available, it felt obvious to us that we should pursue this unique opportunity to work with the City and our Cambridge neighbors to help shape the future of the Kendall Square neighborhood, so that it would serve both MIT and the broader community,” Reif wrote. “From the entrepreneurial energy and culture of its hundreds of start-ups, to the research might and market reach of its major corporate players, Kendall Square is a vital source of opportunities, talent and resources to help the people of MIT deliver their ideas to the world. The emerging strengths of this ecosystem already offer powerful advantages to MIT; it is now clear that our future success depends on making sure that Kendall succeeds as a place – a place where people want to live, work and play, and a place that makes our city stronger, too.”</p> <p>“I am inspired by the possibilities, and I look forward to working with many of you as we work to shape the future of this remarkable place,” Reif added.</p> <p>Many details of MIT’s redevelopment plan remain to be determined, and will be subject to a process of integrating important input from the community, as well as a formal review and approval by the City of Cambridge. But the Institute will be guided by extensive study and analysis of Kendall Square and the Volpe parcel that has taken place over the last several years: The City of Cambridge, through a variety of community-focused processes, has developed a comprehensive set of urban planning principles that address the Volpe parcel’s scale and uses, and encourages the creation of a dynamic area with housing, open community spaces, and retail and other commercial venues. In 2015, Cambridge filed and advanced a comprehensive rezoning proposal for the parcel.</p> <p>MIT Executive Vice President and Treasurer Israel Ruiz says the Institute will use the redevelopment opportunity to help foster the continued trajectory of Kendall Square as a world-class innovation hub. This will, he says, enhance academic-industry connections and help MIT-invented technologies move more quickly from lab to market.</p> <p>“We fully expect that a developed Volpe parcel will contribute to creating an even more exciting Kendall Square,” Ruiz says. “MIT’s engagement with the Volpe property will allow us to further help shape the local innovation ecosystem and create a great neighborhood. We expect to work with the city and community to create a development that provides long-term benefits for our industry collaborators, our neighbors, the City of Cambridge, and for the Institute itself.”</p> <p>MIT’s purchase of the Volpe Center property is being administered by the Institute’s investment arm, the MIT Investment Management Company (MITIMCo), which manages the assets that comprise MIT’s endowment, its employee pension program, and its real estate portfolio.</p> <p>Owned by the U.S. Department of Transportation, the Volpe Center has been at its current location for 45 years, surrounded by Broadway, Third Street, Binney Street, and the Mid-Block Connector. At approximately 14 acres, the site includes six buildings, open areas of landscaped land, and two parking lots that take up most of the land area.</p> <p>In 2015, the GSA invited bids for a “development partner” on a Volpe Center redesign project; the GSA selected MIT as the winning bidder in November. As part of the agreement, MIT will design and construct a new federal facility on approximately 4 of the 14 acres, which will replace around 375,000 square feet now scattered across six buildings. In exchange, MIT will work with Cambridge to plan a vibrant mix of uses, including commercial innovation space, residential and retail facilities, and open space on the remaining 10 acres, which will be owned by MIT.</p> <p>As a guide, MIT will turn to the city’s rezoning proposal for the Volpe Center based on the extensive, Cambridge-led <a href="http://www.cambridgema.gov/cdd/projects/planning/k2c2">Kendall Square Central Square (“K2C2”) planning study</a>. For the study, a committee of residents, property owners, and business and institutional representatives spent a year and a half conducting independent research and gathering community input from public meetings, workshops, and events to create a new design framework for Kendall Square areas. The study concluded with a <a href="http://www.cambridgema.gov/cdd/projects/planning/~/media/3BCE5EEFF387426AAAD2DAD89ACADBE7.ashx">final report</a> in 2013.</p> <p>The part of the K2C2 proposal dedicated to revamping the Volpe Center’s district, <a href="http://www.cambridgema.gov/CDD/Projects/Zoning/~/media/2F4D76F3453146FD9F46E06AD380E67D.ashx">PUD-KS</a>, calls for more mixed-use activity dedicated to fostering innovation and a stronger sense of community. Key suggestions include:</p> <ul> <li>new housing, including a mix of affordable, moderate, and market-rate units;</li> <li>new commercial office and laboratory space, including innovation space for startups, small companies, and individuals;</li> <li>ground-floor retail or public-facing venues in most of the buildings along the primary streets that are currently inactive;</li> <li>new open spaces for public gathering and recreation that encourage a sense of community;</li> <li>roads and pathways through the block that establish new connections between East Cambridge, the Kendall/MIT MBTA station, and the Charles River; and</li> <li>sustainability features that address climate change and promote resiliency.</li> </ul> <p>The Volpe Center redevelopment plan is part of ongoing efforts — by MIT, the city, and others — to shape the future growth of Kendall Square. Last May, MIT received special permits from the Cambridge Planning Board for the <a href="https://news.mit.edu/2016/new-era-kendall-square-initiative-cambridge-planning-board-0518">Kendall Square Initiative</a>, which aims to reimagine the district’s streetscape — using land already owned by MIT — with more vibrancy and diversity. The Initiative is currently under way, beginning with construction of underground utilities and a garage. Following that will come new lab and research space, housing for MIT students and the community, open spaces for recreation and socializing, and a variety of retail venues.</p> <p>Ruiz says MIT’s experience with the Kendall Square Initiative will inform its Volpe Center redevelopment efforts. “We see the tremendous contributions that dynamic street fronts, good retail, conveniently located housing, and active open space can bring to mixed-use developments, and we plan to follow a similar framework as we envision the future of the Volpe site with our city and neighborhood colleagues,” he says.</p> <p>MIT will work collaboratively with the federal government to initiate the design of the new Volpe facility and will begin a process for revising the zoning of the site. It will work with the city to create a “planned unit development,” which will define the specifics of a mixed-use parcel. MIT will also work closely with all stakeholders, including the city’s Volpe Working Group and the MIT faculty-led Volpe Working Group — chaired by Steve Hall, professor of aeronautics and astronautics — to advance the rezoning proposal.</p> The Volpe Center site sits in close proximity to MIT’s campus. Photo: Les Vants Aerial PhotosKendall Square, Development, Real estate, Campus buildings and architecture, Cambridge, Boston and region, Community, Administration, Government, Innovation and Entrepreneurship (I&E), Startups New collaboration explores the future of urban housing in Brazil http://news.mit.edu/2016/collaboration-explores-future-of-urban-housing-in-brazil-0104 Initiative links MIT with São Paulo research centers to study affordability and accessibility. Wed, 04 Jan 2017 17:00:01 -0500 School of Architecture and Planning http://news.mit.edu/2016/collaboration-explores-future-of-urban-housing-in-brazil-0104 <p>The School of Architecture and Planning and the Norman B. Leventhal Center for Advanced Urbanism (LCAU) at MIT have established a long-term initiative to rethink the future of affordable housing in Brazil, which faces an estimated shortage of 7 million units.</p> <p>“The affordable housing gap — already a significant problem in Brazil — is growing wider,” says Gabriel Kozlowski, an architect and researcher who is part of the LCAU team. “Rethinking the architecture as well as the urban and economic models currently being implemented in the housing sector in Brazil is the first step toward providing better living conditions for millions of residents.”</p> <p>The initiative is a combined effort among Brazilian academic institutions, research labs, and the private sector, in collaboration with MIT. The core local participants include the School of Architecture and Urbanism of São Paulo (FAU-USP); Arq.Futuro, Brazil’s largest platform devoted to the study and discussion of cities and urbanization; and the Institute of Urbanism and Studies for the Metropolis (URBEM), a “do-tank” for the conceptualization and implementation of large-scale urban development projects in São Paulo and other global cities.</p> <p>Several other Brazilian institutions are joining the initiative, including INSPER, São Paulo’s leading center of education and research in the fields of business and economics, and the two largest private organizations representing the real estate sector in the state of São Paulo: the São Paulo State Housing Syndicate, SECOVI, and the Brazilian Association of Real Estate Companies, ABRAINC.</p> <div class="cms-placeholder-content-video"></div> <p>Two events in São Paulo this fall marked the beginning of this engagement. In October, FAU-USP hosted MIT School of Architecture and Planning&nbsp;Dean Hashim Sarkis for a public lecture, which took the form of a conversation about the new housing initiative and the opening of his exhibition, “The World According to Architecture,” mounted in the school’s gallery.</p> <p>In November, Arq.Futuro, in partnership with the UN Habitat and the São Paulo State Secretariat for Urban Development, organized a two-day symposium entitled “Economy and the City: Housing and Urban Development.” With 40 speakers, the event aimed to open a discussion on the current state and new possibilities for affordable housing in Brazil.</p> <p>“As a result of a series of economic and political practices, housing is a theme that was clearly left aside by architecture during these last decades,” says Kozlowski, who represented MIT at the event. “I believe this research collaboration is not only necessary but also symbolic for structuring an in-depth conversation on the future of affordable housing in Brazil to help reverse the current situation.”</p> <p>The symposium also featured a video conversation between Sarkis and Adèle Naudé Santos, a professor in the MIT Department of Architecture and the Department of Urban Studies and Planning, discussing the significance of housing research for Brazil and MIT’s role and vision for this collaboration.</p> <p>Research activities will commence in 2017. During the spring — supported by a five-year grant offered by the São Paulo Research Foundation — the architecture school FAU-USP will gather a team of faculty and researchers led by architect Angelo Bucci to engage in a long-term project on housing.</p> <p>“Housing is the primordial and most permanent theme of architecture,” says Bucci. “It is of the highest relevance to promote a cycle of research and debate that addresses new architectural designs necessary for today’s cities.”</p> <p>The framework of the research is being developed in collaboration with MIT, which will also exchange faculty and students for short research periods over the next five years. During summer 2017, Santos will take MIT students to São Paulo for a workshop as part of the LCAU biennial theme of housing.</p> <p>“We intend to design a community on an urban infill site that has reasonable access to facilities needed by the residents,” says Santos. “The housing should be flexible to accommodate different household formations, support income-generating activities, and through the shared spaces and amenities foster a sense of community. This will be a new neighborhood typology and an innovative building type, spatially, and technologically. The challenges are large, but we expect that the MIT team working with their Brazilian counterparts will bring bold thinking, rigor, and creativity to affordable urban housing solutions.”</p> Center of São Paulo, BrazilPhoto: Ana Paula HiramaCenter for Advanced Urbanism (CAU), Architecture, Real estate, Research, Design, Cities, Brazil, Urban studies and planning, School of Architecture and Planning 3Q: Dennis Frenchman on the rise of innovation districts in Cambridge and beyond http://news.mit.edu/2016/3q-dennis-frenchman-rise-innovation-districts-cambridge-beyond-1129 MIT professor explains how “productive neighborhoods” can remake cities. Mon, 28 Nov 2016 23:59:37 -0500 Jonathan Mingle | School of Architecture and Planning http://news.mit.edu/2016/3q-dennis-frenchman-rise-innovation-districts-cambridge-beyond-1129 <p><em>Cities around the world are redeveloping industrial areas, downtown districts, and exurban office parks with a mix of retail, housing, and the anchors of the new digital economy: startup incubators and co-working spaces. But beyond these basic ingredients, what makes a 21st-century urban neighborhood both a productive and an enriching place to live and work?</em></p> <p><em>Dennis Frenchman, the </em><em>Class of 1922 Professor of Urban Design and Planning </em><em>in the School of Architecture and Planning (SA+P), has played a leading role in the design and development of innovation districts around the world, from Medellín, Colombia, to Seoul, South Korea. He has analyzed the technological, social, and economic factors of their evolution, and the planning and policy strategies that encourage the growth of these “productive neighborhoods.” Frenchman is currently leading SA+P’s </em><a href="http://designx.mit.edu/"><em>DesignX</em></a><em> program to accelerate innovation and entrepreneurship in design and the built environment.&nbsp;&nbsp; </em></p> <p><em>SA+P asked Frenchman to share what he’s learned about what makes a successful innovation district, and to offer his perspective on what needs to happen to ensure that its economic and social benefits are widely distributed. He also weighed in on the innovation ecosystems of Cambridge and Boston, including </em><a href="http://news.mit.edu/mit-announces-the-engine-for-entrepreneurs-1026"><em>The Engine</em></a><em>, the new enterprise recently launched by MIT to support startup companies working on scientific and technological innovation with the potential for transformative societal impact. </em></p> <p><em>The Engine will host a <a href="http://events.mit.edu/event.html?id=16498551&amp;date=2016/11/30">community forum</a> — attended by President L. Rafael Reif, Provost Martin Schmidt, Executive Vice President and Treasurer Israel Ruiz, and Professor Anantha Chandrakasan, head of the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science — on Wednesday, Nov. 30, at 5:30 p.m. in Room 32-123.</em></p> <p><strong>Q: </strong>What is an innovation district? What would a visitor typically find there?</p> <p><strong>A:</strong> To understand innovation districts, we need to look back at the way we have organized ourselves in the past, and the ways in which cities have been formed by both economic and social forces, all wrapped up together.</p> <p>In the 19th century, the neighborhoods where people lived and their places of work — factories, docks, shipyards — were very close to each other. That created a certain kind of city form. I’ve done a lot of work on Lowell, Massachusetts, and industrial mill towns, where you see this strong pattern. In the 20th century, with the advent of the automobile and other technologies, city planners advocated moving factories to the periphery of the city. We spent the whole 20th century separating places to live from places to work.</p> <p>With the arrival of digital technology, all of those older systems are changing. The nature of work is changing. The first generation of digital natives is now entering the workforce. They are very entrepreneurial, and they have at their fingertips the means of production: With a laptop and a skilled person, you can produce enormous value. So what is the factory? Where is this value being produced, and how? The factories are now the urban places in which these folks socialize, live, and produce — make things. And that really is what a “productive neighborhood,” as I like to call it, or an innovation district, is all about.</p> <p>So what do you see there? You definitely see housing and places for people to live. You see 21st-century industries clustering there, because they are following the talent. You see social spaces: a huge resurgence in restaurants, markets, and cafés. And you see laboratories, startup accelerators, and shared work space. Don’t think of this as an industrial district — it’s not an office park. It’s really a neighborhood in which a culture has emerged around this new kind of production and lifestyle. People are globally connected and producing very high-value products, and the production and the living are both occurring 24 hours a day.</p> <p><strong>Q: </strong>Are innovation districts emerging organically, or are they the product of active planning and specific policies?</p> <p><strong>A:</strong> It’s an emerging phenomenon, but planning can make it more inclusive, diverse, functional, and productive. We are just now inventing the public policy to take advantage of these trends. There’s a lot of existing policy that does not make innovation in the city very easy to do.</p> <p>I’m an urban designer. Most of our current land-use regulation is built around zoning, which at its base is about separation of different uses. We have residential districts, commercial districts, industrial districts. But that isn’t the way cities are being formed now in these innovation districts. They are mixed-use in a fine-grained way. You have living space mixed with industry, as in the Brooklyn Navy Yard, for example. A lot of these things were not allowed in the past. The old regulations were all made for the 20th-century city. The main function of cities in the last century was consumption, and the suburbs were for living. Now people are moving back to the city to produce, and we have to think about how to do that in an inclusive way. Cities have to transform their public policy for the built environment to enable inclusivity to happen, starting with mixed-use zones.</p> <p>Another core issue is diversity. One of the things that we’ve found here at MIT is that diversity — cross-currents of people, ideas, and experiences — is an essential ingredient in creation and innovation. But achieving that diversity won’t happen on its own. We need policy for inclusionary housing and working. We need to be pulling folks into this new economy who wouldn’t normally get into it. At MIT, it’s up to us to make sure that we’re engaging high school students, for example, and bringing people from disadvantaged backgrounds into this system.</p> <p>In some places, this will take a long time to take hold. Other places provide opportunities because of their location and context, but may need a push. It took a long time to get the innovation district going on the waterfront in South Boston. The original vision was to simply have a lot of high-tech companies based there. But it needed more social life, more excitement. New housing is coming, and shopping is being built. It’s beginning to take on the characteristics of a productive neighborhood. But we have to be sure that all folks in South Boston are able to get jobs in this new economy. It has to be inclusive. Social values are also economic imperatives now.</p> <p><strong>Q: </strong>How will The Engine — MIT’s new venture to support transformative innovation — contribute to the growth of this kind of “productive neighborhood” in the city of Cambridge?</p> <p><strong>A:</strong> The Engine makes a lot of sense for MIT, but also for the innovation ecosystem developing in Boston and Cambridge. It’s a great move to put its headquarters in Central Square. MIT could play an incredible role in the transformation of that neighborhood. There is an intention in the forming of The Engine to try to do that, which is extremely positive.</p> <p>Where you have schools surrounded by new investment these days, we’re seeing that the campus and neighborhood are merging together and becoming one thing. The campus is diffusing into the wider neighborhood as research and industry are attracted to the area. That’s why I think of it as a new form. The fact that The Engine is off-campus fits exactly the theory that the campus is beginning to dissolve into the city of Cambridge, socially if not legally. This is a cultural change. The new economy is beginning to take root.</p> <p>Another thing that’s great about The Engine is that it’s providing a place for students to land and continue their innovation after they graduate. This aligns with what we are trying to promote in DesignX. Just as the physical campus is dissolving, so is the boundary of graduation. It offers a way for students to continue on with the innovation and entrepreneurship adventure. Increasingly we’re going to have to see education as a continuous platform at MIT and outside of MIT in different neighborhoods. Increasingly the campus will become part of its neighborhood. That's what I predict. And this is a way of remaking cities.</p> Dennis Frenchman, the Class of 1922 Professor of Urban Design and Planning in the School of Architecture and Planning. Photo: Bryce VickmarkInnovation and Entrepreneurship (I&E), Innovation Initiative, Community, Startups, Industry, Design, Cities, education, Education, teaching, academics, cambridge, Cambridge, Boston and region, Kendall Square, School of Architecture and Planning, Urban studies and planning, Architecture, Real estate 3Q: Israel Ruiz on MIT’s role in shaping the future of the Volpe Center http://news.mit.edu/2016/3q-israel-ruiz-mit-role-shaping-future-volpe-center-1118 Tuesday’s announcement names MIT as an initial partner in redeveloping federal property in Kendall Square. Fri, 18 Nov 2016 10:30:00 -0500 MIT News Office http://news.mit.edu/2016/3q-israel-ruiz-mit-role-shaping-future-volpe-center-1118 <p><em>On Tuesday, the U.S. </em><em>General Services Administration (GSA) announced that the federal government has made “the initial selection of&nbsp;Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)&nbsp;as the Exchange Partner for the Volpe Project. The next step of the process will be the joint selection of the Design Team by the federal government and the Exchange Partner for the new federal facility.”</em></p> <p><em>Israel Ruiz, MIT’s executive vice president and treasurer, spoke with </em>MIT News<em> about what the government’s announcement may mean for MIT and its role in shaping the future of the Volpe Center, a 14-acre federal property in Kendall Square. He also described what is now known about the path ahead, and the principles that will guide MIT’s involvement with the Volpe property.</em></p> <p><strong>Q. </strong>What is the Volpe Center, and what steps brought us to Tuesday’s announcement?</p> <p><strong>A.</strong> The John A. Volpe National Transportation Systems Center, part of the U.S. Department of Transportation, sits on 14 acres in Kendall Square, near MIT. Located across Broadway from the Boston Marriott Cambridge, the property is primarily bounded by Broadway, Third Street, Binney Street, and the Mid-Block Connector.</p> <p>In 2015 the GSA — the federal agency that constructs and manages buildings for the government — invited bids to develop a new federal building on the site to house the Volpe Center; in return, the successful bidder would recover its costs by redeveloping the remainder of the parcel. The new federal building would replace the 375,000 square feet now scattered across six buildings on the Volpe Center property.</p> <p>A number of entities, including MIT, submitted bids. On Tuesday, we learned from the GSA that it has made an initial selection of MIT as its partner on the Volpe Center site.</p> <p>We were delighted to learn that the federal government has made this initial choice. We look forward to working with the federal government, the City of Cambridge, our Kendall Square neighbors, and the MIT community as this process advances.</p> <p><strong>Q. </strong>Why is MIT interested in the Volpe Center property?</p> <p><strong>A. </strong>Our bid reflects two guiding principles that President Reif has articulated and is advancing: our desire to foster Kendall Square’s growth into one of the world’s most compelling innovation districts, and MIT’s longstanding efforts to help make sure that technologies created on our campus can reach the marketplace and make a positive impact in the world.</p> <p>Naturally, MIT is interested in the future of the site, given its proximity to campus and the important role it plays in supporting the evolution of the innovative, mixed-use community in Kendall Square. The revitalization of the Volpe parcel is a tremendous opportunity for the City of Cambridge and the growing Kendall Square innovation ecosystem.</p> <p>MIT has made concerted efforts to foster the advancement of Kendall Square — both in service of the Institute’s own entrepreneurs and to maintain the very special innovation ecosystem in Cambridge. The Institute has taken a series of steps over decades to foster the full entrepreneurial life cycle, helping to move research out of the laboratory and into the marketplace: Most recently, on Oct. 26, we launched <a href="http://news.mit.edu/mit-announces-the-engine-for-entrepreneurs-1026">The Engine</a>, MIT’s new enterprise to support startups that are working on scientific and technological innovation with the potential for transformative societal impact.</p> <p>Through these longstanding efforts to support entrepreneurship, we have learned much about what is needed to support an innovation ecosystem — and the knowledge that led us to recognize the need for The Engine will now inform how the Volpe property can best be used to further cultivate a robust innovation ecosystem in Kendall Square.</p> <p>Last but not least: MIT’s engagement with the Volpe property will allow us to further help shape our neighborhood — which we expect will provide long-term benefits for our industry collaborators, our neighbors, and for the Institute itself. Tuesday’s announcement reflects MIT’s success in competing in a commercial arena and in producing a commercially viable bid. While we don’t anticipate that the Volpe property will house academic buildings in the near term, it’s important to note that the long-term proceeds from our successful bid will support the Institute’s academic and research enterprise for decades to come.</p> <p>Additionally, we fully expect that a developed Volpe parcel will contribute to creating an even more exciting Kendall Square region for members of the MIT community to live and work.</p> <p><strong>Q. </strong>What are the next steps?</p> <p><strong>A.</strong> We are following the lead of the the federal government, which has instructed us to maintain the confidentiality of our bid and the process — so we cannot share details of our bid, which we formulated with the advice and approval of the Executive Committee of the MIT Corporation.</p> <p>Now that the government has made this initial selection, we will work with federal officials to understand the next steps of the process. We look forward to meeting with government officials to more fully understand the needs and requirements for their new facility.</p> <p>We intend to engage MIT faculty, students, and staff in this process; Provost Marty Schmidt is now working to create a mechanism for the MIT community to offer input. We are also enthusiastic about working with the city, and with the Cambridge community, in the months ahead on the development of the Volpe property. Ultimately, the redevelopment will require a rezoning of the entire parcel and a planning process involving the Cambridge City Council and Planning Board.</p> <p>As we begin this process, I can share a few guiding ideas — honed through MIT’s recent engagement with the city and with our neighbors as part of MIT’s ongoing <a href="http://news.mit.edu/2016/new-era-kendall-square-initiative-cambridge-planning-board-0518">Kendall Square Initiative</a>.</p> <p>We learned a great deal through our Kendall Square Initiative process about how best to integrate the desires of the neighborhood, the business community, and the MIT community. We see the tremendous contributions that dynamic street fronts, good retail, conveniently located housing, and active open space can bring to mixed-use developments, and we plan to follow that same framework as we envision the future of the Volpe site with our city and neighborhood colleagues.</p> <p>A key objective for us will be to build on all of the good work that has already taken place in Kendall. We understand and agree with the city’s overarching vision around the creation of vibrant mixed-use places that foster authentic connectivity and collaboration.</p> <p>We feel very fortunate that the city has already been taking a close look at the future of the Volpe site through extensive planning efforts over the past few years, and through the establishment of the Volpe Working Group several months ago. We look forward to working with that committee once we have a greater understanding of the process ahead.</p> <p>I believe that MIT has been a good and strong partner with the broader community in Kendall, and I can say with certainty that we will endeavor to continue in that same manner as we work collectively to embrace this incredibly important opportunity for Cambridge and MIT.</p> <p>We have learned that great places require strong collaboration and creative thinking, and we are extremely excited to advance this process in that spirit.</p> The John A. Volpe National Transportation Systems CenterPhoto: Melanie Gonick/MITAdministration, cambridge, Cambridge, Boston and region, Innovation and Entrepreneurship (I&E), Kendall Square, Real estate, Startups, Government Federal government announces next step in Volpe Center redevelopment process http://news.mit.edu/2016/federal-government-volpe-center-redevelopment-process-1115 Federally owned property is centrally located in Kendall Square. Tue, 15 Nov 2016 17:46:38 -0500 MIT News Office http://news.mit.edu/2016/federal-government-volpe-center-redevelopment-process-1115 <p>MIT has been one of several entities proposing to redevelop the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Volpe National Transportation Systems Center site, a 14-acre campus in Kendall Square. This afternoon, the General Services Administration made the following announcement by email:</p> <p>“The federal government is pleased to announce the initial selection of&nbsp;Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)&nbsp;as the Exchange Partner for the Volpe Project. The next step of the process will be the joint selection of the Design Team by the federal government and the Exchange Partner for the new federal facility.”</p> <p>In response, Israel Ruiz, MIT’s executive vice president and treasurer, said, “We were delighted to learn this afternoon that the federal government announced the initial selection of MIT as the Exchange Partner for the Volpe Project. We look forward to working with the federal government, the City of Cambridge, our Kendall Square neighbors, and the MIT community as this process advances.</p> <p>“MIT is committed to a vibrant Kendall Square, one of the most significant innovation clusters in the world and an important center of our Cambridge community. Naturally, MIT is interested in the future of the site, given its proximity to campus and the important role it plays in supporting the evolution of the innovative, mixed-use community in Kendall Square. The proposed revitalization of the Volpe parcel is a tremendous opportunity not only for the U.S. Department of Transportation, but also for the City of Cambridge and the growing Kendall Square innovation ecosystem."</p> John A. Volpe National Transportation Systems Center Image: Google EarthCambridge, Boston and region, Community, Administration, Real estate Tackling Chinese urban development http://news.mit.edu/2016/zixiao-yin-tackling-chinese-urban-development-1104 Samuel Tak Lee Graduate Fellow Zixiao Yin plans to serve communities back home in Inner Mongolia. Fri, 04 Nov 2016 15:55:01 -0400 Michael Blanding | School of Architecture and Planning http://news.mit.edu/2016/zixiao-yin-tackling-chinese-urban-development-1104 <p>Growing up in Inner Mongolia, graduate student Zixiao Yin saw firsthand the effects of poor urban planning. As China underwent record growth, a mining boomtown intended for 1 million people rose from the desert in the neighboring district — but when the economy crashed in 2008, blocks and blocks of empty office buildings and houses created a “<a href="https://stl.mit.edu/news/ghost-cities-research-team-embarks-china-field-study" target="_blank">ghost city</a>” on the steppe.</p> <p>The lesson, says Yin, was that sustainability is a critical consideration to balance and control the pace of China’s rapid urbanization. “That’s the first time I got interested in planning,” she says.&nbsp;</p> <p>Now a graduate fellow in her first semester at the <a href="https://stl.mit.edu/" target="_blank">Samuel Tak Lee MIT Real Estate Entrepreneurship Laboratory</a> (STL Lab), Yin is pursuing a master’s in city planning to learn how to help China deal with the enormous challenges in land use that it currently faces.</p> <p>Thankfully, Yin’s own town of Bayannur was spared much of the real estate boom that wreaked havoc on her province. Growing up, Yin says, she lived in an idyllic environment of watermelon and sunflower fields surrounded by the mountains. Her parents invested early in her education, sending her to the best local schools, and eventually to Beijing’s Tsinghua University, China’s top research university.</p> <p><strong>Struggling to help the poor</strong></p> <p>As someone who loved to draw and paint when she was younger, Yin chose to study architecture. She became disillusioned with the field, however, during several school trips to rural China, where the government was working to help develop poor communities. On one visit to the village of Lingqiu in the Shanxi Province, she struggled to adapt what she’d learned in school. “We had learned about how to use different materials in an elegant way to create beautiful buildings, but in a poor village, they don’t have the money to afford that.”</p> <p>Furthermore, theoretical planning proposals didn’t seem to fit the needs of the local villagers. One plan to build a new public square, for example, seemed to Yin ill-suited for women who tended to gather in front of their homes. “A woman who has to support a family can’t go to a faraway square,” says Yin. “Once you hear a baby crying or another member of the family needing help, you have to run home.”</p> <p>Another idea to use money to plant border trees along the streets, she says, was met with disbelief. “People in rural China regard trees as a resource, not something for shade or environmental beauty,” she says. “They just thought it was ridiculous.”</p> <p>Yin began to feel frustrated that the majority of the skills she was learning were focused on creating aesthetic environments for the privileged upper class, not development for the poor people who needed it. “For me it wasn’t rewarding to just serve the rich,” she says.</p> <p><strong>Facing China’s challenges</strong></p> <p>Yin had a different experience, however, on a trip to Tiandong, a farming village along the You River in Southwestern China famed for its mangoes. The government had set up the village as one of the pilot villages for rural land transferring. While there, she met several university graduates helping the farmers as entrepreneurs. “The native farmers don’t have the skills to sell their mangoes all over the country, so they had set up a website and developed links all over China,” she says. The head of the village was a recent graduate from Tsinghua, who had worked long hours beside the farmers. “This guy had chosen to come back and serve his rural village,” she says. “It was just very moving.”</p> <p>After earning her architecture degree, Yin stayed at Tsinghua to study urban planning, researching how policies could help the rural poor. China is currently in the midst of <a href="https://www.ft.com/content/42eca2b6-3d4d-11e6-8716-a4a71e8140b0" target="_blank">reforming its rural land laws</a> to allow farmers to transfer land-use rights that have been granted by the government. While the measure is expected to help farmers raise capital for agricultural improvements or relocation to cities, some fear it will lead to an epidemic of impoverished, landless peasants. “If you’ve been working hard every day to support your family, and suddenly someone offers you a huge amount of money for your land, it’s hard to refuse,” says Yin. “But in the long term, it’s dangerous. Maybe the money is enough to support someone for three or five years, but after that, they don’t have the ability to get sustainable income.”</p> <p>Cities are facing their own issues: Urban residents don’t own land, but rather lease it from the government in mostly 70-year leases. As those leases have begun to expire, it has led to national concern about whether leases will be renewed and how much it will cost homeowners to renew their land-use rights.</p> <p><strong>Gaining an international perspective</strong></p> <p>Yin plans to examine these kinds of questions at the STL Lab. She first encountered the lab when its staff visited Tsinghua University for a joint project researching criteria for ascertaining socially responsible real estate in China. An <a href="https://stl.mit.edu/program/samuel-tak-lee-graduate-fellowships" target="_blank">STL Graduate Fellowship</a>, focused on students dedicated to sustainable real estate development in China, allowed her to join them at MIT this semester.</p> <p>“Zixiao embodies our hopes for the fellowship program,” says Yu-Hung Hong, director of the STL Lab. “We want to foster leaders who will use their education in socially responsible real estate development to shape the future of the built environment in China.”</p> <p>In her first few months in the program, Yin has already gained an international perspective on China’s challenges. “I once thought China was the only country going through a transition of rapid urbanization,” she says, “but now I have found that there are many other countries where this is happening.” In addition to courses, she has learned from the experience of fellow students, some of whom have had experience working with non-governmental organizations in other countries, in rural areas suffering from poverty and war.</p> <p>In particular, she has thrived on the quality of debate within class. “Sometimes debates make me feel that I really understand the issue.&nbsp;Before issues were framed by my teachers, and this approach was too ‘efficient’,” she says. “I was just told the right answer. At MIT, everything is up for discussion.” One memorable class on imperialism and colonization, she says, featured a soul-searching discussion between descendants from colonizing and colonized countries.</p> <p>Eventually, Yin hopes to use the knowledge she has gained to tackle some of the more difficult land-use problems affecting her homeland. “I came to MIT is to gain perspectives from outside China to solve problems inside China,” she says. “It’s rewarding for me to think that I can connect my knowledge to what is really happening in my country — not only for the benefit of the rich, but for everyone.”</p> Zixiao Yin is a 2016-2017 Samuel Tak Lee Graduate Fellow and student in urban studies and planning.Photo: Tom GeartyStudents, Graduate, postdoctoral, Real estate, Center for Real Estate, China, Global, International development, Urban studies and planning, STL Lab, Profile, Architecture, School of Architecture and Planning Real estate innovation by the numbers http://news.mit.edu/2016/real-estate-innovation-lab-1103 Real Estate Innovation Lab to promote the future of urban development by showing investors how it can work. Thu, 03 Nov 2016 11:00:00 -0400 School of Architecture and Planning http://news.mit.edu/2016/real-estate-innovation-lab-1103 <p>A new lab in the MIT Center for Real Estate (CRE) will link the creation of the built environment to economic impact, seeking to identify innovations in design and technology that will determine the future of communities and cities.</p> <p>The MIT Real Estate Innovation Lab (REIL) will explore three areas: innovations in building design that lead to new building types and urban forms; new processes in construction such as 3-D printing and modular construction; and new data technologies with the potential to transform the organization of cities and the built environment.</p> <p>“Thirty years ago, green buildings were a cutting-edge concept. Today they are the standard, not only due to their environmental benefits but because there is evidence that justifies the economic investment,” says Andrea Chegut, research scientist and director of the new lab. “Our goal will be to understand what is happening at the frontier of the built environment today, to produce statistical and empirical evidence of approaches that work, and to translate these innovations into widespread use.”</p> <p>The lab’s principal investigators are Dennis Frenchman, the Class of 1922 Professor of Urban Design and Planning, and David Geltner, professor of real estate finance and engineering systems. The lab also provides an opportunity for MIT School of Architecture and Planning graduate students, PhD candidates, and postdocs to contribute and collaborate in an entrepreneurial setting that combines expertise in advanced methodologies of statistics, computational architecture, economics, urban design, and other disciplines.</p> <p>“This new lab creates a dynamic environment for scholars to conduct research that will weave together the many disciplines within the School of Architecture and Planning that contribute to the development of innovative products, spaces, and communities,” says Albert Saiz, director of the CRE and the Daniel Rose Associate Professor of Urban Economics and Real Estate. “When you link these scholars and practitioners together, you start to see the full landscape of the frontier. We believe this is the first academic lab to bring these disciplines together with this ambition.”</p> <p>Industry and corporate collaborations — from real estate development and construction to big data and architecture — are important to the researchers, says Geltner, because they are the stakeholders who develop cities and communities. Accompanying the launch of the new lab is the announcement of its founding industry partner, JLL, the leading professional services firm specializing in real estate.</p> <p>JLL is engaging with REIL to develop an open-innovation strategy to disseminate academic research to the urban technology community. “JLL and the MIT Center for Real Estate have a shared mission — and a passion — for innovation and real estate,” said Ben Breslau, JLL’s managing director of research. “As an industry partner, we look forward to engaging with the brilliant minds at MIT to support research that will create a better future.”</p> <p>Architects and designers can introduce novel ideas from 3-D printed buildings to indoor vertical food farms, but to develop these projects, they have to make the case to the investors that will fund them. However, says Chegut, new technologies and systems may not have diffused through the market enough to offer sufficient assurance to investors. “If you are going to get meaningful projects off the ground, you must have the financial stakeholders on board,” she says. “We hope to contribute analysis and evidence that helps innovators and investors come together.”</p> <p>The big data revolution is finally coming to the built environment, says Frenchman, noting that venture capital investment in urban technology firms has gone from $200,000 per year in 2008 to $1.8 billion today. “These tech companies are building digital platforms and scraping data to show us the city in a new form,” he says.</p> <p>Embracing this new diversity of data, one of the lab’s flagship projects is to create a comprehensive real estate database for the entire city of New York. By assembling any data that describes the city — such as rents, transaction prices, building mortgages, vacant space, Airbnb locations, co-working spaces, cell towers, fiber-optic cables, subway lines, and more — the database will offer a way to “hack the city,” Chegut says. “Each source represents a distinct view of a city, whether from architects, urban planners, real estate developers, economists, construction firms, utilities, or investors. Capturing the full complexity of these overlapping and interconnected sets of data will offer an unprecedented platform for insight because it will integrate multiple perspectives into one resource.”</p> <p>One sign of the database’s potential for impact is the interest it is already receiving. “Many data providers are committing to share their data with us to help illustrate these links,” says Weikal. “They understand that sharing their information will help everyone build better cities.”</p> <p>The lab will also explore how changes in the built environment over time help create an atmosphere for innovation to occur. “We used to build factories, then office parks, then media cities, and now we are building innovation cities,” says Frenchman. By examining locations all over the world with successful innovation districts — including Cambridge, Massachusetts; Seoul, South Korea; Medellín, Colombia; Mexico City, Mexico; Barcelona, Spain; and Beijing, China — the project will identify how they benefit cities in terms of jobs and development, as well as inform urban design.</p> <p>The new lab plans on releasing at least a half-dozen papers exploring these phenomena this year and will link this research to <a href="http://designx.mit.edu" target="_blank">DesignX</a>, a new entrepreneurship accelerator in the School of Architecture and Planning that provides training, tools, and resources to student teams building companies and organizations focused on design and the built environment.</p> <p>By applying knowledge generated from the lab’s research to educate students in the DesignX program, the lab can help foster new technologies that will address gaps in the marketplace. “If we have a number of pieces of the puzzle, but one is missing, we can say to young entrepreneurs, ‘Run that way, fast,’” says Frenchman. “Our research can point innovators toward the frontier.”</p> <p>By foregrounding the business case for innovation, Chegut hopes that the lab can help to give architects, urban planners, and developers the tools they need to succeed with their most transformative ideas. “This kind of R&amp;D is the lifeblood of MIT,” says Chegut. “Designers are asked to justify every intervention they make. By getting architects and economists together, we can propose design innovations that not only support viable urban economies but also lead to vibrant and successful communities.”</p> Real estate, Center for Real Estate, Urban studies and planning, School of Architecture and Planning, Research, Innovation Initiative, Innovation and Entrepreneurship (I&E), Cities, Big data, Data visualization, Analytics, Economics, Data New faculty, promotions, and leadership roles in the School of Architecture and Planning http://news.mit.edu/2016/new-faculty-promotions-leadership-school-of-architecture-and-planning-1028 Four join the SA+P faculty, while seven are recognized for work in art, architecture, and urbanism. Fri, 28 Oct 2016 17:00:01 -0400 School of Architecture and Planning http://news.mit.edu/2016/new-faculty-promotions-leadership-school-of-architecture-and-planning-1028 <p>The School of Architecture and Planning has announced that seven faculty members have been recognized by being promoted, granted tenure, or given significant new roles.</p> <p>In addition, four new professors have joined the school in the Department of Architecture and the Program in Media Arts and Sciences. Their research ranges from architectural design to self-assembling materials to genetic engineering.</p> <p>“This group adds considerable strength to our faculty,” says Hashim Sarkis, dean of the School&nbsp;of Architecture and Planning. “As individual practitioners and researchers, each brings&nbsp;a high level of creativity, imagination, and rigor to our capabilities. As a group, they offer new dimensions to our teaching and research explorations.”</p> <p><strong>Recently promoted faculty</strong></p> <p><a href="https://architecture.mit.edu/faculty/azra-aksamija" target="_blank">Azra Akšamija</a><strong>,</strong> an artist and architectural historian, has been promoted to associate professor without tenure in the Program in Art, Culture and Technology of the Department of Architecture, where she has taught since 2012. Her artistic work provides a framework for researching, analyzing, and intervening in contested sociopolitical realities. Her academic research focuses on the politics of cultural memory and the 1990s Yugoslav wars.&nbsp;Her book, “<a href="https://architecture.mit.edu/publication/mosque-manifesto-propositions-spaces-coexistence" target="_blank">Mosque Manifesto</a>,” (Revolver, 2015) explores transcultural aesthetics and cultural mobility in the context of Islam in the West.&nbsp;Akšamija&nbsp;holds master’s degrees from the Technical University Graz and Princeton University, and a PhD from MIT.&nbsp;Her work has been shown in the Generali Foundation Vienna, Liverpool Biennial, Sculpture Center New York, Secession Vienna, Manifesta 7, the Royal Academy of Arts London, Queens Museum, and the 54th Venice Biennale. She received the Aga Khan Award in 2013 for her prayer space design in the Islamic Cemetery in Altach, Austria.</p> <p><a href="https://dusp.mit.edu/faculty/brent-d-ryan" target="_blank">Brent D. Ryan</a> has been promoted to associate professor of urban design and public policy with tenure in the Department of Urban Studies and Planning, where he was assistant professor from 2009 and associate professor without tenure from 2013. As head of the <a href="https://dusp.mit.edu/cdd/program/overview" target="_blank">City Design and Development Group</a>, he examines the aesthetics and practice of contemporary urban design, particularly in postindustrial cities and neighborhoods. Ryan is author of “Plural Urbanism” (MIT Press, forthcoming) and&nbsp;“<a href="http://www.upenn.edu/pennpress/book/14995.html" target="_blank">Design after Decline: How America Rebuilds Shrinking Cities</a>” (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2012), as well as a number of journal articles and contributions to edited volumes. Ryan taught at the Harvard Graduate School of Design and the University of Illinois at Chicago, where he was also co-director of the City Design Center. Ryan holds a BS in biology from Yale University, an MArch from Columbia University, and a PhD in urban design and planning from MIT.</p> <p><a href="https://architecture.mit.edu/faculty/kristel-smentek" target="_blank">Kristel Smentek</a>, a historian of 18th-century European art and design with specializations in the history of collecting, the art market, and the European encounter with Asia, has been named associate professor with tenure in the History, Theory, and Criticism of Architecture and Art Program in the Department of Architecture. An assistant and associate professor at MIT since 2008, Smentek holds a BA from McGill University and an MA and PhD from the University of Delaware, all in art history. She has published extensively, including “<a href="https://www.routledge.com/Mariette-and-the-Science-of-the-Connoisseur-in-Eighteenth-Century-Europe/Smentek/p/book/9781472438027" target="_blank">Mariette and the Science of the Connoisseur in Eighteenth-Century Europe</a>” (Ashgate, 2014). She has received numerous fellowships and awards, and has curated several exhibitions. Smentek’s teaching includes courses on European art from the Renaissance to the present, 18th- and 19th-century European painting, ornament from the Rococo to the 1920s, the history and theory of the art museum, and the history of design.</p> <p><strong>Faculty receiving new roles or titles</strong></p> <p><a href="https://dusp.mit.edu/faculty/alan-berger" target="_blank">Alan Berger</a>, co-director of the <a href="http://cau.mit.edu/" target="_blank">Norman B. Leventhal Center for Advanced Urbanism</a>, has been named the Norman B. and Muriel Leventhal Professor of Advanced Urbanism. The founding director of <a href="https://dusp.mit.edu/cdd/project/p-rex" target="_blank">P-REX lab</a>, a research unit focused on environmental problems caused by urbanization, Berger studies the link between our consumption of natural resources and the waste and destruction of landscapes worldwide. He uses the term “systemic design” to describe the reintegration of waste and disvalued landscapes into our urbanized territories and regional ecologies. His books include “Infinite Suburbia” (forthcoming, 2017) and the award-winning “Drosscape: Wasting Land in Urban America” (2006) and “Reclaiming the American West” (2002), all from Princeton Architectural Press. Prior to coming to MIT in 2008, he was associate professor of landscape architecture at the Harvard Graduate School of Design. He holds a BS in agriculture/horticulture from the University of Nebraska at Lincoln and an MLA in landscape architecture from the University of Pennsylvania.</p> <p><a href="https://dusp.mit.edu/faculty/phillip-clay" target="_blank">Phillip L. Clay</a>,<strong> </strong>retired professor in the Department of Urban Studies and Planning (DUSP), has been named advisor to the Dean of the School of Architecture and Planning, where he was a faculty member since 1976. A graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Clay holds a doctorate from MIT. He served as MIT Chancellor from 2001 to 2011 and held other leadership positions at the Institute; he was also department head of DUSP, where he taught courses in <a href="https://dusp.mit.edu/user/2103/subjects" target="_blank">housing policy and poverty</a>. Clay is widely known for his work in U.S. housing policy and urban development. His current interests include organizational capacity in community-based nonprofits as well as the role of anchor institutions. Based on his work on MIT international strategies, he is also interested in the increasing role higher education can play in national development planning in less developed and emerging nations. His work now focuses on <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VZH-ALaQdcI" target="_blank">higher education in Africa</a>.&nbsp; &nbsp;</p> <p><a href="https://dusp.mit.edu/faculty/dennis-frenchman" target="_blank">Dennis Frenchman</a> has been named the Class of 1922 Professor of Urban Design and Planning in the Department of Urban Studies and Planning and is the inaugural SA+P faculty director of the <a href="http://designx.mit.edu/" target="_blank">DesignX</a> entrepreneurship accelerator. He is also on the faculty of the Center for Real Estate, where he founded (with David Geltner and Andrea Chegut) the new <a href="http://realestateinnovationlab.mit.edu/" target="_blank">Real Estate Innovation Lab</a>. &nbsp;Frenchman is a registered architect and founder of ICON architecture in Boston, an international architecture and urban design firm. His practice and research focuses on the transformation of cities; he is an expert on the application of digital technology to city design and led MIT research efforts to develop new models for clean energy urbanization in China. Frenchman holds a BA in architecture from the University of Cincinnati and an MArch and MCP from MIT, where he has taught since 1983.</p> <p><a href="https://architecture.mit.edu/faculty/james-wescoat" target="_blank">James Wescoat</a> has been appointed co-director of the <a href="http://cau.mit.edu/" target="_blank">Norman B. Leventhal Center for Advanced Urbanism</a>. Since arriving at MIT in 2008, he has served as the Aga Khan Professor in the <a href="https://akpia.mit.edu/" target="_blank">Aga Khan Program for Islamic Architecture</a>, within the Department of Architecture. His research has concentrated on water systems in South Asia and the United States, including water research with the Tata Center for Technology and Design. His publications include “Water for Life: Water Management and Environmental Policy” (with Gilbert F. White, Cambridge University Press, 2003). Wescoat has also conducted research on historical waterworks of Mughal gardens and cities in India and Pakistan. He previously headed the Department of Landscape Architecture at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and has taught at the University of Colorado and the University of Chicago. He earned a BA in landscape architecture from Louisiana State University and an MA and PhD in geography from the University of Chicago.</p> <p><strong>New faculty members</strong></p> <p><a href="https://architecture.mit.edu/faculty/brandon-clifford" target="_blank">Brandon Clifford</a> has been appointed assistant professor in the Department of Architecture, where as Belluschi Lecturer since 2012 he has taught and conducted research, including the recent <a href="http://news.mit.edu/2015/designing-across-disciplines-1007" target="_blank">McKnelly Megalith</a> and <a href="http://news.mit.edu/2016/scene-at-mit-buoy-stone-0621" target="_self">Buoy Stone</a> projects. He received a BS in architecture from Georgia Tech and an MArch from Princeton University. From 2006 to 2009, he worked as project manager at Office dA in Boston and New York. Clifford was the 2011-2012 LeFevre Emerging Practitioner Fellow at The Ohio State University’s Knowlton School of Architecture. In 2008 he founded the award-winning practice <a href="http://www.matterdesignstudio.com/" target="_blank">Matter Design</a> with Wes McGee. His work has garnered inclusion in the Design Biennial Boston and won the Architectural League Prize for Young Architects and Designers as well as the prestigious SOM Prize, which launched his ongoing research into volumetric architecture. Clifford’s work is focused on reimagining the role of the architect in the digital era.</p> <p><a href="https://www.media.mit.edu/people/esvelt" target="_blank">Kevin Esvelt</a> has been named assistant professor of media arts and sciences. He leads the MIT Media Lab’s <a href="https://www.media.mit.edu/research/groups/sculpting-evolution" target="_blank">Sculpting Evolution</a> research group, which invents new ways to study and influence the evolution of ecosystems for the benefit of humanity and the natural world. Before joining the Media Lab in January, Esvelt wove many areas of science into novel approaches to ecological engineering. He invented phage-assisted continuous evolution (PACE), a synthetic microbial ecosystem for rapidly evolving biomolecules, in the laboratory of David R. Liu at Harvard University. At the Wyss Institute, he worked with George Church to develop the CRISPR system, including its use for gene drive and safeguards. He received BA degrees in biology and chemistry from Harvey Mudd College and a PhD in biochemistry from Harvard. He is a winner of the Harold M. Weintraub Award, the Hertz Foundation Thesis Prize, and the NIH K99, and was among the <em>MIT Technology Review</em> 35 Innovators Under 35 in 2016.</p> <p><a href="https://architecture.mit.edu/faculty/sheila-kennedy" target="_blank">Sheila Kennedy</a> has been appointed professor in the Department of Architecture.&nbsp;Kennedy received a BA in history, philosophy, and literature from Wesleyan University and studied architecture at the Ecole National Supérieure des Beaux Arts in Paris. She received her masters of architecture from the Graduate School of Design at Harvard University, where she graduated with distinction — the school’s highest academic honor — and received the SOM National Traveling Fellowship. With her partner Juan Frano Violich, Kennedy is a founding principal of <a href="http://www.kvarch.net/" target="_blank">KVA Matx</a>, an interdisciplinary professional practice that is widely recognized for innovation in architecture, research on the evolving culture of materials, and the design of resilient, “soft” infrastructure and public space. Kennedy’s work in practice has received Progressive Architecture Awards and American Institute of Architects National Design Excellence Awards for built work in the United States and abroad. Kennedy received a 2014 Holcim Foundation Design Award, the 2014 Design Innovator Award, and the 2014 Berkeley-Rupp Award Prize of $100,000. She is a recipient of the inaugural 2016 American Architecture Prize for her design work with digital brick in the <a href="http://www.kvarch.net/projects/83" target="_blank">Tozzer Anthropology Building</a>. Kennedy’s design work has been exhibited at the Venice Biennale, MoMA, the National Design Museum, the Rotterdam Biennale, the Vitra Design Museum, and the TED conference in California. Her work has been widely published and is featured on National Public Radio, BBC World News, CBS News, The Discovery Channel, CNN Principal Voices, <em>Wired, The Economist,</em> and <em>The New York Times.</em></p> <p><a href="https://architecture.mit.edu/faculty/skylar-tibbits" target="_blank">Skylar Tibbits</a> has been named assistant professor in the Department of Architecture, where he has been a lecturer and research scientist since 2010, teaching graduate and undergraduate design studios and co-teaching MAS.863/4.140 <font face="bitstream vera sans,arial,helvetica,sans-serif">(</font>How to Make (Almost) Anything), a seminar at MIT’s Media Lab. He directs the <a href="http://www.selfassemblylab.net/" target="_blank">MIT Self-Assembly Lab</a>, which focuses on programmable material technologies for novel manufacturing, products, and construction processes. Tibbits has a professional degree in architecture with a minor in experimental computation from Philadelphia University. At MIT, he received an SMArchS in design and computation and an MS in computer science. Tibbits has worked at design offices including Zaha Hadid Architects, Asymptote Architecture, and Point b Design. He has designed and built large-scale installations at galleries around the world, and his work has been published extensively. In 2007, Tibbits founded a multidisciplinary design practice, <a href="http://www.sjet.us/" target="_blank">SJET</a>. He was awarded a 2013 Architectural League Prize, among other honors.</p> First row: (l-r) Azra Akšamija, Phillip Clay, Dennis Frenchman, Skylar Tibbits. Second row: (l-r) James Wescoat, Sheila Kennedy, Alan Berger, Kristel Smentek. Third row: (l-r) Brandon Clifford, Brent Ryan, Kevin Esvelt.Faculty, Awards, honors and fellowships, Architecture, Urban studies and planning, Real estate, Media Lab, Art, Culture and Technology, Arts, Design, School of Architecture and Planning, Program in HTC New plan refreshes MIT’s home for planning http://news.mit.edu/2016/new-plan-refreshes-mit-home-for-planning-0919 Samuel Tak Lee Building filled with light and life after summer renovations. Mon, 19 Sep 2016 15:34:01 -0400 Michael Blanding | School of Architecture and Planning http://news.mit.edu/2016/new-plan-refreshes-mit-home-for-planning-0919 <p>Last year, the Department of Urban Studies and Planning (DUSP) and the Center for Real Estate (CRE) gathered to give Building 9 a new name: the Samuel Tak Lee Building. This week, they came together again to celebrate the extensive summer renovations that have given the building a new look and rejuvenated spaces.</p> <p>At a grand opening celebration and tour on Sept. 12, visitors found a gleaming new facility with 21,000 square feet of new classrooms, offices, and workshops filled with daylight. As important, they celebrated in a building that finally houses everything to do with urban development and real estate under one roof.</p> <p>“We used to have a department that resembled urban sprawl, with groups scattered all around. Now we have one that finally feels like a downtown,” says Eran Ben-Joseph, professor and head of DUSP. “And we’ve transformed this building’s dated and inadequate form and function to a masterpiece of modern design and state-of-the-art function.”</p> <p>As campus architecture goes, Building 9 has always been a bit of a problem child. Built in a modern style in 1967, it was intended to create a visual link between the neoclassical facades of buildings 7 and 33, as well as a physical link between them and the Bush Building (Building 13), and to provide room for both offices and classrooms. With so many competing interests, the building struggled to fulfill all of its functions well.</p> <p>“The design and evolution of the building created challenges,” Ben-Joseph says. “The offices were built around the outside, and over time all of the classrooms were put into the middle, where they had no natural light.” In addition, the HVAC system to heat and cool the building was placed in the basement, practically below sea level, with air intake from ground-level vents, which often drew in diesel fumes from trucks idling in the adjacent loading docks. “It was totally inadequate and inefficient, in addressing energy efficiency and climate change needs” says Ben-Joseph.</p> <p>The <a href="http://news.mit.edu/2015/samuel-tak-lee-gift-real-estate-entrepreneurship-lab-0108" target="_self">historic gift</a> from alumnus Samuel Tak Lee in 2015 presented the Institute with a rare opportunity to refurbish the physical space. Along with the establishment of a lab dedicated to socially responsible real estate entrepreneurship, the gift supported the redesign of the building’s physical space to better house the department, the STL Lab, and other labs and programs associated with real estate and urban development.</p> <p>“The question was how to consolidate all of these programs under one roof while making the building capable of meeting 21st-century needs,” says Ben-Joseph. Most of the funds have gone into what he calls “the guts of the building — the parts that people don’t see.” The first order of business was to lift a massive, new, and efficient HVAC system to the roof, then reroute all air ducts from bottom-up to top-down. Since the extent of the construction made the building uninhabitable, work could only be done during summer when faculty and students were off campus.</p> <p>“The schedule was beyond aggressive,” says Jim Harrington, director of facilities for the School of Architecture and Planning. “We did something like six months of work in less than three.” The kick-off meeting for the project was around Christmas last year; by late May, the entire building was closed, and hundreds of workers were on the job, working double-shifts and Saturdays to get everything completed by the start of the academic year this September.</p> <p>In addition to the HVAC system, all 600 windows had to be replaced, which were leaking after decades of service. In order to plan access to the driveway for cranes and dumpsters that would not disturb research in nearby labs, all of the window replacement was done at night under lighting rigs — with every window replaced by double-glazed, energy-efficient glass.</p> <p>Another major part of the project to make the building compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act, which was enacted decades after the building’s construction. Each floor went from having one small bathroom to two accessible bathrooms. Due to the quirkiness of the connections between buildings, the floor plates elevations of Building 9 didn’t match up with its neighbors, so new ramps had to be built that were longer and more gradual to accommodate wheelchairs. In addition, the sixth floor of the building, which was only accessible via stairs, was equipped with a new elevator allowing access for all to a tower penthouse with 360-degree views of the skyline.</p> <p>The biggest design and engineering challenge, however, was getting light into the core’s classrooms. Building classrooms with minimum windows and natural light was a common practice in the 1960s and 70s. “Educators often felt that students should not be distracted from learning by looking outside,” says Ben-Joseph. As a result, many classrooms were located in a darker, bunker-like core. “Now we have beautiful vistas out to Mass. Ave,” enthuses Harrington. “It’s just much more pleasant.”</p> <p>In addition, the architects, Utile Architecture and Planning, designed open public spaces with chairs and couches for socializing and collaborative work, including a west-facing counter with stools on the 4th and 5th floors that students have already taken to calling the “sunset bar.”</p> <p>Along with DUSP and CRE, the building includes new space for the STL Lab; the SENSEable City Lab, which explores use of smart technology in urban development; the Community Innovator’s Lab (CoLab), which focuses on innovations to better integrate marginalized urban communities; the Special Program for Urban and Regional Studies (SPURS), which sponsors international urban development fellows; and a number of smaller faculty research labs and centers. “Everything to do with urban development and real estate at MIT is now under one roof,” says Ben-Joseph. The centerpiece of the building is a new multimedia-enhanced open space on the second floor called the City Arena, which is designed to facilitate interaction both within the room and remote participants in cities oversees.</p> <p>With the transformation of the Samuel Tak Lee Building, one thing is for sure: Not only will the researchers inside the building be creating the best principles of urban development and design, but the building itself will also provide an example of it.&nbsp;</p> On Monday, Sept. 12, MIT celebrated the reopening of the Samuel Tak Lee Building (Building 9), which underwent extensive renovations this summer to upgrade building systems and to create modern, lively, and functional spaces for the students and faculty who call the building home. Photo: Justin Knight PhotographyCampus buildings and architecture, Center for Real Estate, Real estate, Urban studies and planning, School of Architecture and Planning, Giving, Alumni/ae, Facilities, China, STL Lab A novel approach to teaching socially responsible real estate: games http://news.mit.edu/2016/socially-responsible-real-estate-games-0902 MIT’s Samuel Tak Lee MIT Real Estate Entrepreneurship Lab uses gaming to advance its mission in China. Fri, 02 Sep 2016 10:25:01 -0400 Jintai Li | School of Architecture and Planning http://news.mit.edu/2016/socially-responsible-real-estate-games-0902 <p>In China, city development through effective planning and real estate investment is serious business, but learning about it can be fun and games. Thanks to a new approach developed at MIT, a game based on socially responsible real estate practices was tested in China this summer.</p> <p>The <a href="http://stl.mit.edu/">Samuel Tak Lee MIT Real Estate Entrepreneurship Lab</a> (STL Lab) and the <a href="http://gamelab.mit.edu/">MIT Game Lab</a> collaborated to develop a <a href="https://stl.mit.edu/program/education-games">game</a> designed to help young people understand socially responsible real estate practices and the consequences of irresponsible development, in a safe, fast-paced game environment and without the potential adverse effects of experimenting in the real world. Aimed at students between 16 and 22 years old, the game demonstrates that the best strategy for maximizing long-term profit from real estate investment is to invest adequately in the public good.</p> <p>Reflecting the mission of the STL Lab, the game has been in development since September 2015, primarily as a way to reach Chinese high school and college students. Eran Ben-Joseph, professor and head of the Department of Urban Studies and Planning (DUSP), first suggested that games could be a good way to engage these audiences.</p> <p>In discussing game-based learning with STL Lab staff, MIT Game Lab studio manager Richard Eberhardt says, “Education is learning that happens during the institutional process, often with no option not to do it, while play often is the more motivated way of learning that happens every day. Games are a safe way to activate play in a fun and challenging environment.”</p> <p>According to Sara Verrilli, development director of the MIT Game Lab, “games give players opportunities to fail,” which is something often avoided — and costly — in traditional school settings. Supporting and normalizing failure results in rich learning and teaching opportunities for both game players and game developers. Specifically, this game enables players to create novel models of socially responsible real estate entrepreneurship, with some investment decisions reaping greater short- and long-term rewards than others.</p> <p>The game is played in rounds by four players. Each player accumulates cash, which can be used to develop real estate projects such as historic sites, schools, apartment complexes, factories, and shopping centers. Players also accumulate prestige, based on socially conscious real estate investments, that partly determines the game’s winner. Cash is generated from built projects or taking on debts, while prestige can be gained only by investing in projects that have social benefits, such as culturally significant buildings and community services.</p> <p>Projects come to players in several categories and are built on a constrained orthogonal grid map. The game emphasizes spillover effects, or urban externalities. For example, building a cultural site beside a residential site improves value for both development sites and, by extension, the developers. Conversely, building a cultural site beside a factory reduces the value of the culturally significant building.</p> <p>The game also supports other modes of play, such as two-player teams and cooperative modes, to foster a more collaborative experience. “We found that more Chinese students enjoyed a collaborative way of playing,” Eberhardt says. “Even in competitive games, they were happy to give each other advice.”</p> <p>Members of the MIT Game Lab developed various models, and the STL Lab provided insight on the translation of urban planning and real estate issues into rule-based languages. The STL Lab also organized test play sessions with faculty and students from DUSP, and Professor David Geltner from the Center for Real Estate provided guidance regarding real estate financing. The current beta version is the result of dozens of reviews, critiques, and rounds of internal testing. Yu-Hung Hong, director of the STL Lab, found the collaboration with the MIT Game Lab a satisfying experience. “The Game Lab was very professional and listened closely to our suggestions,” he says.</p> <p>This year, the MIT Game Lab made two <a href="https://stl.mit.edu/news/educational-real-estate-game-china-testing-trip">trips to China</a>, visiting Inner Mongolia University of Technology (IMUT), Tsinghua University (THU), Tongji Zhejiang College, Qingdao University of Science and Technology, and Xiamen University. These trips allowed game developers to gain a better understanding of Chinese social contexts, informing subsequent refinements to the game.</p> <p>Eberhardt says that the team was able to gather a lot of valuable data during these trips, and the feedback from Chinese students was generally positive. “Different combinations of projects produced innumerable situations,” one stated. “The game was very exciting.” A student from Tsinghua University wrote, “I managed to change my strategy and role from profit-seeking to socially responsible the second time I played it. … It also encouraged me to think about what society would be like if we had a full-fledged financial system in the real world.”</p> <p>“Students also provided creative insight on the game,” Eberhardt says. “For example, one student pointed out that the land value in the game’s city center does not appreciate as it usually does in reality.” Land in city centers is typically valued more than surrounding real estate, while the current iteration of the game distributes value across all land parcels equally. The MIT Game Lab will work on incorporating this important student feedback into the game to ensure that it is as realistic as possible.</p> <p>The game was a core component of <a href="https://stl.mit.edu/program/china-summer-camp">STL-MISTI China Summer Camp</a>, jointly developed by the STL lab and the MIT International Science and Technology Initiatives (<a href="http://misti.mit.edu/">MISTI</a>). The program brought together MIT graduate and undergraduate students and students from six Chinese universities to learn about real estate development and entrepreneurship through the lens of social responsibility in a collaborative global context.</p> <p>The end of the STL-MISTI China Summer Camp brought about a new stage of game development. Hong said that there is still much to be done, as the current version requires further artistic polishing and marketing. The STL Lab and the MIT Game Lab expect to test the complete prototype in 2017.&nbsp;</p> STL Lab and MIT Game Lab project participants work together to develop and test a socially responsible real estate game.Photo: Jintai LiCenter for Real Estate, Real estate, STL Lab, School of Architecture and Planning, Urban studies and planning, MISTI, education, Education, teaching, academics, Gaming, Game design, Graduate, postdoctoral, China, Global, International development, SHASS “Beijing Studio” celebrates 30 years http://news.mit.edu/2016/beijing-studio-celebrates-30-years-0714 MIT–Tsinghua collaboration grapples with urban issues in China. Thu, 14 Jul 2016 15:12:01 -0400 Michael Blanding | School of Architecture and Planning http://news.mit.edu/2016/beijing-studio-celebrates-30-years-0714 <p>This winter, China released its 13th “Five-Year Plan,” a socioeconomic blueprint for designing the country’s future. Alongside measures to improve per capita income, life expectancy, air and water quality, innovation, and other initiatives to build a healthier and more prosperous society, the plan also calls for “new-type urbanization.”</p> <p>With targets for urban population growth, transportation, shifting industry to city centers, investment in urban infrastructure, socioeconomic development, and a host of other goals, new-type urbanization is a concept that elicits a smile from MIT Department of Urban Studies and Planning (DUSP) Professor Dennis Frenchman.</p> <p>“In Shanghai, for example, the government would step back from development on any new land and refocus the city on urban regeneration, higher density, and more humane development,” Frenchman says. “It’s personally and professionally exciting to see this shift. These are principles we’ve been promoting with our colleagues in China for 30 years.”</p> <p>Since 1987, Frenchman has taught in the MIT-THU Joint Urban Design Studio program, a collaboration with Tsinghua University that brings up to 20 MIT students to China every other summer to spend a month grappling with urban design issues in a country undergoing dramatic — and continuous — transition.</p> <div class="cms-placeholder-content-video"></div> <p>Now celebrating its 30th anniversary, the “Beijing Studio,” as it is called, has consistently taken on thorny urban design challenges in Beijing and other cities. Studio titles read like a recent history of Chinese urbanism: Regenerating Pipe Street and White Rice Street (1985–87); Rediscovering the Grand Canal (1998); Designing a City on the Rail (2002); Redevelopment of the Shougang Capital Steel Plant (2008); and Making Clean Energy Cities (2010-14). Along the way, the MIT students and their Chinese partners have tackled topics from the design of new mixed-use districts to historic preservation and economic regeneration to transit-oriented development.</p> <p>For Frenchman, the Beijing Studio has been a touchstone throughout his life, giving him the opportunity to return to the same place year after year. “It’s made me humble that no matter what we design, there are other forces in the life of a city that you can’t control,” he says. “At the same time, proposals and plans that may have seemed minor at the outset can end up being extremely important to the form of the city. Over 30 years you can track what the impact is.”</p> <p><strong>Celebrating 30 years of impact</strong></p> <p>This summer, MIT and Tsinghua are marking the 30th anniversary of the Joint Studio with a series of events. On June 12, a large-scale exhibition of student designs opened at the Beijing Planning Exhibition Hall near Tiananmen Square. The opening premiered a documentary film, “Citify.” (See video above.) Directed and filmed by Elyse Frenchman, who has accompanied her father to every studio since the mid-1990s, the documentary traces China’s phenomenal urban transformation over 30 years through the work of the studio.</p> <p>Two conferences were held in Shanghai and Beijing on urban regeneration and clean-energy urban design, key themes of the studio at different point in time. A book charting student work and experiences since the studio’s inception is being published by Tsinghua University Press.</p> <p>And Frenchman, MIT DUSP lecturer and architect Jota Samper, and 32 students teamed up for another studio on a real urban challenge in China: the regeneration of Shanghai’s Minsheng Dock, an iconic 20th-century industrial district on the Huangpu River.</p> <p><strong>Designing a more sustainable future</strong></p> <p>The collaboration with Tsinghua University began in 1978, when DUSP professor Kevin Lynch visited Beijing and plans emerged for a joint academic program in city design. It took until 1985 for the first studio to be organized by professors Gary Hack, Wu Liangyong, and Zhu Xixuan. Frenchman joined two years later, followed in 1992 by professors Jan Wampler and Zhang Jie. The latter three have led the studio continuously for over two decades.</p> <p>“The collaboration has really been one of mutual benefit,” says Zhang, professor of architecture at Tsinghua who has led the program there since 1998. “It has brought a lot of fresh air to the school of architecture.”</p> <p>Many of the initial projects of the studio focused on the center of Beijing. As an example, Frenchman points to studio proposals in the late 1990s to reclaim the thousand-year-old Grand Canal in the Shi Sha Hai lakes area. One proposal was implemented, providing an axis of regeneration and humanely scaled pedestrian activities in the heart of the city.</p> <p>“We have been in the avant-garde of thinking for the city,” says Zhang. “Today what’s happened to the city’s conservation principles and techniques are very much influenced by the early work we did in the 1990s.”</p> <p>In recent years, the program focused on sustainable, low-carbon development. Frenchman, along with DUSP Professor P. Christopher Zegras and PhD student Cressica Brassier, developed the “Energy Proforma,” a tool to rapidly assess the comprehensive energy consumption of a neighborhood. “The design of the neighborhood affects the daily life of the people — where they work, how they travel, their use of space — and that, in turn, affects energy consumption,” Frenchman says.</p> <p>That focus inspired Alexis Wheeler, who graduated from MIT in 2013 with degrees in city planning and real estate, to design a model neighborhood in Jinan, 250 miles south of Beijing. A participant in the 2012 studio, Wheeler was intrigued by the challenge to design a model for development that would reduce energy consumption while preserving the street life of traditional communities, as an alternative to the predominant “tower-in-the-park” schemes.</p> <p>Wheeler credits Frenchman with setting the tone of creative collaboration for the studio. “He is incredibly talented and has a great intuitive sense for design, but he is also so warm and encouraging,” she says. “You want to rush to the classroom or the studio to be around him.”</p> <p><strong>Legacy&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; </strong></p> <p>The most important and lasting impact of the program, say Frenchman and Zhang, is less immediately visible: the hundreds of students on which the experience has left its mark. “It changes people’s lives,” says Zhang. “A lot of American students who join the studio later find a job in Beijing. We have a lot of Chinese students go to the States to study or find a job. It’s a two-way exchange.” Students from the program have risen to top positions in government in both countries.</p> <p>Wheeler, now head urban designer for the Borough of Queens in New York City, incorporates lessons from her experience in Beijing when approaching the large Chinese community in Flushing, as well as other ethnic groups such as those from the Caribbean. “The more you expose yourself and live with and learn from other cultures, the better you are at your job when you are in a role as a public servant trying to design for a community,” she says.</p> <p>That kind of sensitivity can only be gained from prolonged exposure in a new environment, says lecturer Samper. “You spend so much time in the classroom trying to explain theories of cultural difference as it relates to development, but it isn’t until the student goes there that the theory clicks.” Although he has led similar studios in Latin America and India, he doesn’t exempt himself from the transformative power of his own first exposure to China: “I am prepared to not be prepared for what is going to happen.”</p> The "Beijing Studio" celebrates 30 years in China.Photo courtesy of Dennis Frenchman.Urban studies and planning, Design, Architecture, Center for Real Estate, Real estate, STL Lab, School of Architecture and Planning, Education, teaching, academics, Students, Graduate, postdoctoral, Alumni/ae, International development, International initiatives, China, Classes and programs, Faculty DUSP, CRE, and STL Lab award $1.1 million in second round of faculty research funding http://news.mit.edu/2016/dusp-cre-stl-lab-award-11-million-faculty-research-funding-0711 Nine grants awarded to MIT faculty and researchers. Mon, 11 Jul 2016 16:20:01 -0400 School of Architecture and Planning http://news.mit.edu/2016/dusp-cre-stl-lab-award-11-million-faculty-research-funding-0711 <p>The Samuel Tak Lee MIT Real Estate Entrepreneurship Lab (STL Lab), in conjunction with the Center for Real Estate (CRE) and the Department of Urban Studies and Planning (DUSP), has announced its second round of faculty research grants, awarding $1.1 million to nine MIT researchers and their teams.</p> <p>Named after alumnus and global real estate developer Samuel Tak Lee ’62, SM ’64, the STL Lab promotes social responsibility among entrepreneurs and thought leaders in the real estate profession worldwide, with a particular focus on China.</p> <p>The STL Lab’s faculty research grants support inventive projects that advance the understanding of opportunities and challenges in real estate development and entrepreneurship. This year, projects received grants for research in China, Colombia, Malaysia, Mongolia, and Pakistan, and within multiple countries.</p> <p>The lab awarded two levels of grants: seed grants between $20,000 and $50,000 to initiate a research project, and support for up to $150,000 for new projects of larger scope. Proposals submitted for the grant feature cutting-edge research in:</p> <ul> <li>innovation spaces;</li> <li>property taxes and land takings;</li> <li>gated communities and urban village redevelopment;</li> <li>technologies and the built environment;</li> <li>innovative design, real estate, and big data; 
</li> <li>affordable housing; and 
</li> <li>evaluation methods of socially responsible real estate practices.</li> </ul> <p>Funding was granted to projects undertaken by junior and senior MIT faculty and research scientists. The funded projects are:</p> <p><strong>China</strong></p> <p><a href="https://stl.mit.edu/project/real-estate-entrepreneurship" target="_blank">Real Estate for Entrepreneurship</a>. Principal Investigators: Dennis Frenchman, Class of 1922 Professor of Urban Studies and Planning in the Department of Urban Studies and Planning and MIT Center for Real Estate; and Andrea Chegut, research scientist in the MIT Center for Real Estate.</p> <p><a href="https://stl.mit.edu/project/proposed-evaluation-method-china%E2%80%99s-socially-responsible-real-estate-development">A Proposed Evaluation Method of China’s Socially Responsible Real Estate Development</a>. Principal Investigators: Yu-Hung Hong, founding director of the STL Lab in the MIT Department of Urban Studies and Planning and Center for Real Estate; and Lanchun Bian, professor at Tsinghua University School of Architecture in China.</p> <p><a href="https://stl.mit.edu/project/end-gated-communities-china-implications-sustainable-urban-village-redevelopment">The End of Gated Communities in China? Implications for Sustainable Urban Village Redevelopment</a>. Principal Investigators: Brent D. Ryan, associate professor of urban design and public policy and head of the City Design and Development Group in the MIT Department of Urban Studies and Planning; and Lawrence Vale, Ford Professor of Urban Design and Planning in the MIT Department of Urban Studies and Planning.</p> <p><a href="https://stl.mit.edu/project/urban-scale-social-responsibility-china-behavioral-perspective-real-estate-and">Urban-Scale Social Responsibility in China: Behavioral Perspectives in Real Estate and Transportation</a>. Principal Investigator: Jinhua Zhao, Edward H. and Joyce Linde Assistant Professor of City and Transportation Planning in the MIT Department of Urban Studies and Planning.</p> <p><strong>Colombia</strong></p> <p><a href="https://stl.mit.edu/project/drivers-infrastructure-project-outcomes-governance-and-institutional-elements-transportation">Drivers of Infrastructure Project Outcomes: Governance and Institutional Elements of Transportation Sector Projects in Bogota, Colombia</a>. Principal Investigators: Donald Lessard, Epoch Foundation Professor of International Management, Emeritus in the MIT Sloan School of Management; and Gabriella Carolini, Ford Career Development Assistant Professor in the International Development Group within the MIT Department of Urban Studies and Planning.</p> <p><strong>Malaysia</strong></p> <p><a href="https://stl.mit.edu/project/estimating-social-and-environmental-impacts-large-scale-real-estate-development">Estimating the Social and Environmental Impacts of Large-Scale Real Estate Development</a>. Principal Investigator: Lawrence Susskind, Ford Professor of Urban and Environmental Planning, director of the MIT Science Impact Collaborative, and head of the Environmental Policy and Planning Group in the MIT Department of Urban Studies and Planning.</p> <p><strong>Mongolia</strong></p> <p><a href="https://stl.mit.edu/project/disjuncture-and-resilience-holistic-approach-real-estate-development-ulaanbaatar-mongolia">Disjuncture and Resilience: A Holistic Approach to Real Estate Development in Ulannbaatar, Mongolia</a>. Principal Investigator: Manduhai Buyandelger, the Class of 1956 Career Development Associate Professor of Anthropology in the MIT Department of Anthropology.</p> <p><strong>Pakistan</strong></p> <p><a href="https://stl.mit.edu/project/rebuilding-social-compact-urban-service-delivery-and-property-taxes-pakistan">Rebuilding the Social Compact: Urban Service Delivery and Property Taxes in Pakistan</a>. Principal Investigator: Benjamin Olken, professor of economics in the MIT Department of Economics.</p> <p><strong>Multiple countries</strong></p> <p><a href="https://stl.mit.edu/project/property-land-takings-and-fair-compensation-comparative-analysis">Property in Land, Takings, and Fair Compensation: A Comparative Analysis</a>. Principal Investigator: Balakrishnan Rajagopal, associate professor of law and development in the MIT Department of Urban Studies and Planning.</p> Xian Village in Guangzhou, China, is a project under redevelopment.Photo: Mansha ChenGrants, Real estate, Center for Real Estate, Urban studies and planning, Architecture, Anthropology, Economics, Transportation, Global, China, Funding, Sustainability, International development, SHASS, Faculty, Sloan School of Management, School of Architecture and Planning, Innovation and Entrepreneurship (I&E), STL Lab Thriving on risk in real estate http://news.mit.edu/2016/thriving-risk-real-estate-david-geltner-0518 Professor David Geltner is developing new real estate indices to quantify uncertainties in commercial property markets. Wed, 18 May 2016 15:40:01 -0400 Susan Saccoccia | School of Architecture and Planning http://news.mit.edu/2016/thriving-risk-real-estate-david-geltner-0518 <p>Well-functioning markets thrive on risk and deciding how to value it, but to assess risk, markets rely on knowing what they don’t know. Uncertainty, or not knowing how much risk is present, is a market killer.</p> <p>One tool markets use to help quantify uncertainty and turn unknowns into risks is the index, a method of measuring the value of a defined section of a market. Long a staple of stock markets — think of the Dow Jones Industrial Average or the S&amp;P 500 — indices enable markets to better value risk and, therefore, to make better decisions.</p> <p>Until recently, however, indices barely existed for a vital financial sector: commercial real estate. David Geltner, professor of real estate finance at the MIT Center for Real Estate (CRE) is pioneering new approaches to overcome the deficit and share the benefit of real estate indices for markets around the world.</p> <p>“Lots of light shines on securities markets,” says Geltner. “Data on trades and prices is public information. But the commercial real estate market has been in the dark, with little information about risk. My work helps to shine a light in that dark room.”</p> <p>Traditionally, the only types of commercial property price or investment performance index regularly produced and published were based on appraised values. Since 2005, Geltner and the&nbsp;CRE’s Commercial Real Estate Data Laboratory have led in the development of three new types of indices for tracking the price and investment performance of commercial real estate using property sales prices, and also using stock market valuations of real estate investment trusts (REITs).</p> <p>“It’s very challenging to make a rigorous price index for real estate,” says Geltner, who holds joint appointments in the Department of Urban Studies and Planning and the MIT Institute for Data, Systems, and Society. “Comparing the price of a property today with the price a different property sold for yesterday or last year won’t show you the state of the market. If properties are traded as REITs, you can develop indices based on stock market prices for the REIT shares.”</p> <p>Commercially available indices that have been developed using techniques pioneered in CRE now cover dozens of major metropolitan areas in the country, as well as overseas in the United Kingdom and Japan, and soon will likely include other major cities in Europe, Asia, and Australia.</p> <p>“Nobody has done more than Professor Geltner to illuminate the shortcomings of existing measures of returns on investments in private real estate markets and to develop better measures that come ever closer to measuring true returns, volatilities, and correlations,” says Brad Case, senior vice president at the National Association of Real Estate Investment Trusts. “Trillions of dollars are invested in real estate by endowments, foundations, and pension funds, and Dr. Geltner’s work has helped managers avoid some of the bad real estate investment decisions that plagued such institutions for decades.”</p> <p>Intent on making analytics mainstream among real estate decision-makers, Geltner likes to develop tools that do not require highly specialized expertise. He is currently writing a book with Richard de Neufville, MIT professor of civil and environmental engineering, to guide engineers and developers in quantifying risk and valuing flexibility in development projects, by running Monte Carlo simulations in Excel.</p> <p>Geltner, who describes real estate as a field in which “everything is relevant,” obtained a master’s degree in 1976 at Carnegie Mellon University in urban and public affairs. “I took courses in economics, finance, political science, sociology, history, and law.”</p> <p>During the next decade as a researcher and doctoral candidate at MIT, however, Geltner found his life’s work. “I fell in love with the MIT ‘mens-et-manus’ ethic,” says Geltner, referring to the Institute's motto of “mind and hand.” “Here, we use our brains to make the world a better place, cutting across disciplines and linking fields to do that.” &nbsp;</p> <p>His research shifted to private sector construction — real estate development — where economics more than politics influences decisions. While teaching real estate finance at the University of Cincinnati from 1989 to 2002, Geltner saw that his field lacked a rigorous textbook. He decided to write it, working with Professor Norman G. Miller, the founder of UC’s real estate program.</p> <p>Published in 2001 and now in its third edition (2014), "Commercial Real Estate Analysis and Investments" is the most widely cited textbook in its field. The book responded to the needs Geltner observed in his students at both UC and MIT. In the fall of 1998, while on sabbatical, he taught real estate finance at CRE. His lecture notes became the basis of the book.</p> <p>“At Cincinnati, my students only had basic finance,” says Geltner. “At MIT, the students were architects and engineers who never studied finance. The course and book had to take students from ground zero to the cutting edge and even beyond.”&nbsp;</p> <p>The resulting textbook merges urban economics with corporate finance and capital markets theory. “Real estate combines all three,” says Geltner. “When buying property, you are both a corporate financial manager and an investor. You also need to know urban economics to assess the value of the land and buildings.”</p> <p>In 2002, Geltner joined CRE. While conducting research, he also teaches three courses in the center’s one-year master’s degree program in real estate development.</p> <p>“MIT is such an incredible place to work,” says Geltner. “Our students share a desire to improve our built environment. Other faculty members teach them to build better buildings. I help them learn how to finance these projects so they are good investments. And my research helps to promote a market that makes better use of capital and avoids excessive borrowing that can lead to a crash. Investors and markets operate more efficiently with more light and less uncertainty.”&nbsp; &nbsp;</p> David GeltnerFaculty, Profile, Real estate, Center for Real Estate, Urban studies and planning, Research, Economics, School of Architecture and Planning, IDSS A new era set to begin in Kendall Square http://news.mit.edu/2016/new-era-kendall-square-initiative-cambridge-planning-board-0518 New buildings, open space, and restaurants, plus research and commercial space, to bring all-day activity to the innovation hub. Tue, 17 May 2016 23:00:00 -0400 David L. Chandler | MIT News Office http://news.mit.edu/2016/new-era-kendall-square-initiative-cambridge-planning-board-0518 <p>In the next few years, visitors to Kendall Square — already considered home to one of the world’s greatest concentrations of innovative companies — will find a new and revitalized streetscape, featuring a whirlwind of daytime and evening opportunities for dining, shopping, living, and recreation. With approval granted by the City of Cambridge Tuesday night, the Kendall Square innovation district will soon be home to six new buildings as well as a variety of new open spaces and retail venues.</p> <p>“Over two decades — thanks to the energy, creativity, and aspirations of thousands of researchers, inventors, entrepreneurs, and companies of every size — Kendall Square has gradually evolved from a semi-industrial landscape to the one of the most remarkable hubs of innovation in the world,” said MIT President L. Rafael Reif. “The city’s leaders have both encouraged that transformation and been strong advocates for lively and welcoming urban spaces. With their decision, the members of the Planning Board granted us the ability to make a good thing even better, so that in another 20 years, Kendall Square will be an even more magnetic, inspiring, and delightful place to live and work.”&nbsp;</p> <p>The approval came in a unanimous vote of the Cambridge Planning Board, providing for MIT’s special permits as part of its “Planned Unit Development” in the Kendall Square/East Campus area. Following up on a <a href="http://news.mit.edu/2016/mit-presents-updated-kendall-square-initiative-plan-city-cambridge-0107">January hearing</a>, the board’s approval marks the end of a six-year regulatory process that featured hundreds of public hearings and community meetings, and the work of several Institute task forces and committees to examine topics such as the <a href="http://news.mit.edu/2012/faculty-task-force-report-kendall-square-1017">future of the East Campus area</a>, the housing needs of the graduate student population, and the seamless integration of academic and commercial uses to create a vibrant gateway and destination.</p> <p>All in all, the plan will lead to a little more of everything in Kendall Square: more housing for both MIT students and the community, more open spaces for recreation and socializing, and more space for research and for retail businesses.</p> <p>Now that the path forward has been cleared by Tuesday’s approval, these new buildings and open spaces will be built out over the course of the next decade. The new development will include a residential and retail building, as well as a major new graduate student residence hall and new buildings for research facilities. Some of these will feature dramatic views of the Charles River and the Boston skyline from their upper floors. At street level, the buildings will offer a variety of retail venues, open spaces, and new direct connections between Main Street and the campus, and to boat ramps and other activities along Broad Canal, a waterway that opens into the Charles. Each new building will go through a design review with the city before construction begins.</p> <p>Ultimately, the new buildings and renovations of historical structures, and the creation of green spaces just south of Main Street in the center of Kendall Square, spanning what is now just a string of parking lots, will provide a vital street scene and a whole new entryway into the MIT campus. A new building housing the MIT Museum will provide an inviting focal point and a public introduction to the campus.</p> <div class="cms-placeholder-content-video"></div> <p>Overall, the rollout of the project is expected to offer significant benefits for Cambridge, for MIT, and for the region. It will bring new housing units to one of the most sought-after parts of the city, as well as major new research and development facilities to what is already, as <em>The Boston Globe</em> <a href="https://www.statnews.com/2016/05/05/kendall-beating-heart-biotech/">recently described</a> the Kendall area, “the beating heart of biotech. And if Kendall is the beating heart, then MIT must be the aorta. …” Indeed, the new facilities will provide even greater opportunities for interaction and cross-fertilization between the biotech and other high-tech companies that have flocked to the area, and the students and faculty of MIT, whose presence helped draw those companies in the first place. The intermingling of these academic and commercial communities should further enhance the already abundant opportunity for partnerships, internships, collaborations, and serendipitous meetings.</p> <p>“I can imagine Kendall Square a decade from now, with the expanded capacity making it possible to realize an amplified innovation playground anchored on and around MIT,” says Executive Vice President and Treasurer Israel Ruiz. “A century after physically moving MIT’s campus to Cambridge, the Kendall project allows us to create a destination for both the MIT community and the Cambridge residents, an environment capable of unleashing a new era of groundbreaking discovery and economic growth across the region.”</p> <p>“It is wonderful to have the approval of the Cambridge Planning Board. This culminates a long, thoughtful process that has led to an exciting vision and plan for Kendall Square,” says MIT Provost Martin Schmidt. “Early on in this process, the community had many questions, and some concerns about this project. I am delighted to see that as a result of deep engagement with our campus community and the city, we have been able to develop a Kendall Square plan that is appealing to all stakeholders.”</p> <p>The close proximity of these facilities, spanning the full innovation cycle from basic academic research all the way to the marketplace, will help enable both MIT and the companies to bring about breakthrough innovations.</p> <p>“It’s really exciting that we have arrived at this point,” says Steve Marsh, managing director of real estate in MIT’s Investment Management Company (MITIMCo). Marsh and MITIMCo served as the project’s lead on behalf of the Institute. “I give a lot of credit to the many people at MIT and in the city who worked diligently and thoughtfully through the twists and turns of this long-term effort. Fortunately, we were ultimately able to achieve this critical milestone in the execution of the bold vision that was set out for us by MIT leadership. We’re really pleased with the final plan, which was shaped by stakeholders throughout the broader community — that steady stream of input was crucial to our success.”</p> <p>At the nearly four-hour Planning Board hearing, MIT officials presented the Institute’s plans for North of Main Street (“NoMa”) and South of Main Street (“SoMa”). Members of the public made comments about the project related to the public realm, transportation, and housing, and Planning Board members offered observations regarding transit-related matters, graduate student housing, bicycling amenities, and the future design-review process. After the Board provided its unanimous vote allowing the Kendall Square Initiative to move forward, Chairman Ted Cohen thanked everyone and said that he looked forward to working with MIT during the design review process.</p> <p>The graduate housing component of the development arose from an analysis by the Graduate Student Housing Working Group. Its <a href="http://news.mit.edu/2014/letter-regarding-final-report-graduate-student-housing">final report</a> recommended adding new housing to accommodate 500 to 600 graduate students. MIT leadership determined that approximately half of that housing could be placed within the Kendall Square Initiative, and that the other half would be sited elsewhere on campus. Chancellor Cynthia Barnhart believes that the Kendall location is ideal for an addition to MIT’s graduate student housing stock. “Having our graduate students in the heart of Kendall Square, where they can interact with both academic and industry partners, will allow them even greater access to the Cambridge innovation ecosystem. Their presence will also help to enhance the vibrancy of the area.”</p> <p>“Over the past two years, it has been tremendously exciting to witness the details of the Kendall development plan come into focus as the result of the efforts of so many dedicated individuals at MIT and in collaboration with the city,” says Associate Provost Karen Gleason, the Alexander and I. Michael Kasser Professor of Chemical Engineering who, along with Schmidt, played a major role in addressing the interests of the many groups involved in the new project. “I am very excited about the new and lively space that will result from the juxtaposition of multiple academic enterprises on either side. The future, represented by the innovation and entrepreneurship and admissions offices, both to the east of the T stop, will be complemented by our historical roots, represented by the MIT Museum, sited directly across the gateway to the west.”</p> <p>Gleason adds, “All of these activities will find use for a shared forum space, which opens to green space to the south. Additionally, MIT’s present graduate students and families will benefit from the new housing and a daycare adjacent to the T. With the approval granted by the city’s planning board, construction of this vision will finally begin.”</p> <p>The six new buildings will provide a mix of about 290 affordable and market-rate housing units, 250 net new graduate-student residential units, research and development buildings, more than 100,000 square feet of new and repositioned retail space, and generous open spaces. The overall plan, as Schmidt outlined in the January presentation to the Planning Board, will provide “a vibrant crossroads that will connect us more closely to the Cambridge community.”</p> <p>The project’s “vibrant crossroads” includes the opportunity for MIT to implement an inviting new public realm with a dynamic gateway and diverse programming. The objective for the open space area is to create a welcoming destination that has the everyday feel of an open house — where passers-by might come upon an interactive art installation, a participative science experiment, or an invention being tested out by students. The aim is to convey the Institute’s “MIT-ness” by highlighting innovation in its many forms so that Cambridge residents and visitors from around the world can experience the fast-paced excitement that is characteristic of Kendall Square.</p> <p>Ever since the City Council’s <a href="http://news.mit.edu/2013/kendall-square-zoning-petition-approved-0409">2013 approval</a> of MIT’s rezoning petition, the Institute has been working to create a robust development plan for the six MIT-owned parking lots in the Kendall Square/East Campus area. Now that the overall plan has been approved, each building, and the open spaces, will go through a collaborative post-permitting design review process with the Planning Board. The six buildings are being designed by five different architectural teams.</p> <p>Hashim Sarkis, MIT’s dean of the School of Architecture and Planning, and Meejin Yoon, head of the Department of Architecture, have led the Institute’s overarching design effort. Sarkis reflects on the ongoing design process: “Working closely and organically with the five architectural teams, we developed a foundational approach of diversity and unity. Our core urban design principles will allow every building to stand uniquely on its own while also conveying that each is a part of the larger vibrant ensemble. All of the buildings will feel connected to one another and will contribute to the vitality of this new destination that we are all creating.”</p> <p>“I am grateful to the Cambridge and MIT communities for their dedication and immense contributions to the extensive public process over the past six years. We will continue this engagement into the future,” says Ruiz.</p> The City of Cambridge has approved MIT’s Kendall Square Initiative, which includes the development of six new buildings as well as a variety of new open spaces and retail venues. The decision marks the end of a six-year regulatory process that featured hundreds of public hearings and community meetings, and the work of several Institute task forces and committees.Image: Les VantsKendall Square, Design, Administration, Community, Facilities, Residential life, Architecture, Real estate, School of Architecture and Planning, MIT Museum, Cambridge, Boston and region A new lens on suburbia http://news.mit.edu/2016/future-of-suburbia-conference-0427 Center for Advanced Urbanism conference explores the suburbs’ sustainable future. Wed, 27 Apr 2016 12:00:01 -0400 Jonathan Mingle | School of Architecture and Planning http://news.mit.edu/2016/future-of-suburbia-conference-0427 <p>On the global stage, cities may be where the spotlight often falls — but the suburbs are where the action is.</p> <p>That somewhat counterintuitive reality was the subject of a two-day conference entitled “The Future of Suburbia,” hosted recently by the Center for Advanced Urbanism (CAU) of MIT’s School of Architecture and Planning. The event brought together scholars and practitioners from a range of institutions and disciplines to share perspectives on trends in suburban city forms, while considering how designers and planners could help make them more productive, equitable, and ecologically sound in the decades to come.</p> <p>“The questions we put out there,” says Alan Berger, professor of landscape architecture and urban design, and co-director of CAU, “were: How can the suburban environment operate holistically? And how can we manage suburban and urban development together, so that there’s a holistic exchange of environmental resources?”</p> <p>The urban planning and design professions, Berger says, often operate on the assumption that most future growth will happen in cities, even though almost 70 percent of people in the U.S. &nbsp;live in suburban areas — and the suburbs are growing. Moreover, the United Nations predicts that by 2050, only 1 in 8 people worldwide will live in a megacity; the rest will live in the urban periphery or beyond.</p> <p>“Suburban types of expansion are the overwhelming majority of global development that's going to happen for the next 30 to 80 years,” Berger says.</p> <p>Joel Kotkin, professor in urban studies at Chapman University and an authority on demographic and social trends, observed at the conference, “This is the reality we live in, and we have to deal with it. Most people want a detached home.” Indeed, over 82 percent of owned homes in the U.S. are detached.</p> <p>Jed Kolko, an independent consultant and former chief economist at Trulia, the online real estate company, presented some surprises within the most recent U.S. census data. Contrary to popular belief, population is growing much faster in lower-density suburban areas than in cities. And the suburbs are more diverse than many of us realize.</p> <p>Minorities, young adults with children, aging Baby Boomers — these demographic groups are increasing their numbers in the suburbs. Based on such trends, Kolko predicts a “continuing decline in the share of those living in cities.”</p> <p>These shifts present opportunities that designers and planners are well positioned to identify and pursue. &nbsp;Berger maintained that, “designed intelligently, suburbia can be a highly productive test bed for clean energy, clean water, food, carbon storage, social diversity, and certainly affordable housing.”</p> <p>Joan Nassauer, professor of landscape architecture at the University of Michigan, shared her research on “greening sprawl” that has important implications for providing carbon sinks as a tool for fighting climate change. With colleagues from an array of disciplines, Nassauer conducted studies in suburban areas of southeast Michigan. Soil scientists took core samples from manicured lawns, and social science researchers conducted interviews to learn how homeowners’ aesthetic preferences are shaped by their neighbors’ landscape practices.</p> <p>Their efforts yielded an encouraging finding: By area, homeowner lots in suburban residential developments store as much carbon as do managed northern forests. And homeowners prefer more carbon-sequestering native planting and mature trees — if that’s what their neighbors have. These findings can inform tactics to “nudge” suburban development toward providing more ecosystem services.</p> <p>Another panel addressed one of the primary obstacles to realizing this vision of a sustainable suburbia: transportation.&nbsp;“The innovation of the automobile, or personal transport, is the single most important factor in creating the suburbs and shaping their form,” said Eran Ben-Joseph, professor and head of the MIT Department of Urban Studies and Planning.</p> <p>“Did the car destroy the environment, or maybe the way we designed for it did?” he asked, noting that roughly one-third of all development is devoted to car-related infrastructure, from wider streets to parking lots to driveways.</p> <p>“Autonomous vehicles will change the design of suburbs in the future,” Berger added, “potentially allowing for the removal of up to 50 percent of their current paved surface. This would have tremendous positive environmental impacts on the watershed for cities downstream.”</p> <p>Knut Sauer, vice president at Hyperloop Technologies, reported on his company’s efforts to radically transform personal mobility. The hyperloop — a venture launched in 2013 by Elon Musk, founder of SpaceX and Tesla — would move people and goods in a depressurized environment in a system of tubes, at speeds up to 700 mph. Musk’s original concept involved a theoretical route between San Francisco and Los Angeles, but the hyperloop offers the potential to connect not just urban cores but any point on the landscape, dramatically reducing the time it takes to get from place to place. “It’s a vision of full-blown decentralization,” Berger says.</p> <p>"Infinite Suburbia<em>,"</em> co-edited by Berger, will be published in 2017, with the aim of “setting the foundation for a future collective theory for global suburbia.” The 1,200-page book is the result of an intensive two-year collaborative effort among 52 authors, more than two dozen graduate student researchers, several dozen visiting experts, and 10 partner academic institutions, spanning a dozen academic fields.</p> <p>The conference helped mark the culmination of this two-year process, but also the beginning of a new four-year period of collaboration, both within various labs and departments at MIT and beyond, with institutions including Mexico’s housing agency, to reimagine the global suburban condition.</p> Conceptual view of future suburban fabricImage: Matthew SpremulliCenter for Advanced Urbanism (CAU), School of Architecture and Planning, Architecture, Urban studies and planning, Research, Design, Cities, Special events and guest speakers, Real estate, Technology and society MIT updates community on proposed renovation of Metropolitan Storage Warehouse http://news.mit.edu/2016/proposed-metropolitan-storage-warehouse-renovation-update-0218 Thu, 18 Feb 2016 00:00:00 -0500 MIT News Office http://news.mit.edu/2016/proposed-metropolitan-storage-warehouse-renovation-update-0218 <p>MIT has been exploring options for the creative reuse of the iconic Metropolitan Storage Warehouse, located at the corner of Massachusetts Avenue and Vassar Street. The Institute, with guidance from the MIT students, faculty, and staff who have been working as part of the Metropolitan Warehouse Advisory Group, is continuing to imagine a renovation of the warehouse focusing on reuses of the building as maker spaces, common and study spaces, research and innovation spaces, and street-level retail.</p> <p>The oldest parts of the Metropolitan Storage Warehouse date to 1894; the newest are from 1911. The facility, which MIT has owned since 1966, is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. While the building’s beautiful and complex structure present enticing opportunities for creative reuse, these same features also present unique architectural and design challenges.</p> <p>“While we had hoped that the Met Warehouse might be repurposed as fun and functional student housing, the building’s age and style makes this a vexing undertaking for a September 2018 opening, even for our solutions-oriented community,” says Associate Provost Karen Gleason, the Alexander and I. Michael Kasser Professor in the Department of Chemical Engineering, and chair of the Metropolitan Warehouse Advisory Group.</p> <p>MIT had been working toward a goal of September 2018 for the opening of the new facility; that goal had reflected the Institute’s need for more student housing, and for flexibility during renovations of existing undergraduate and graduate housing. That timeline will now be pushed back: The ambitious, multistep process of completing final design, obtaining City of Cambridge permits, and reconstructing a 100-plus-year-old building make a September 2018 reopening an unlikely outcome.</p> <p>MIT’s focus for new student housing opportunities will now shift to exploring alternative sites for a residence hall, likely in the West Campus area. Over the past year, a holistic study of the West Campus was initiated and will provide a basis for determining options for student housing in the coming months. Administrators plan to develop a quick study of other student housing possibilities.</p> <p>“The Met Warehouse looms large at MIT,” Gleason says. “But as a storage facility, it has not been integral to the life and work of our community. As we proceed with our plans for the creative reuse of the Met Warehouse, we are as confident as ever that our work will make this building far more of a distinctive asset to our community than it has ever been before.”</p> Metropolitan Storage WarehouseJose Luis-Olivares/MITFacilities, Administration, cambridge, Cambridge, Boston and region, Campus buildings and architecture, Residential life, Student life, Design, Community, Architecture, Real estate, School of Architecture and Planning MIT presents updated Kendall Square Initiative plan to City of Cambridge http://news.mit.edu/2016/mit-presents-updated-kendall-square-initiative-plan-city-cambridge-0107 Cambridge Planning Board delves into the Kendall Square plan’s details and expresses enthusiasm; process will continue. Thu, 07 Jan 2016 17:18:01 -0500 MIT News Office http://news.mit.edu/2016/mit-presents-updated-kendall-square-initiative-plan-city-cambridge-0107 <p>In response to a broad range of questions and suggestions raised at the Institute’s Sept. 8, 2015, <a href="http://news.mit.edu/2015/mit-presents-kendall-square-initiative-plan-cambridge-planning-board" target="_self">City of Cambridge Planning Board hearing</a>, MIT returned to the board on Jan. 5 to provide an updated presentation for its proposed <a href="http://kendallsquare.mit.edu/" target="_blank">Kendall Square Initiative</a>.</p> <p>In its <a href="http://kendallsquare.mit.edu/updates/mit-presents-updated-kendall-square-initiative-plan-city-cambridge" target="_blank">presentation</a>, MIT described changes in the development plan that addressed specific Planning Board concerns related to building designs, façade treatments, and the positioning of retail space, and also answered questions related to the integration of historical structures, the use of cantilevers, the public realm experience, housing, sustainability, pedestrian and bicycle amenities, parking, and vehicular access.</p> <p>In the months following the September Planning Board meeting when the Institute received a unanimous preliminary development approval, MIT met frequently with city staff regarding every aspect of the proposed development. This dialogue led to MIT’s submission of a <a href="http://kendallsquare.mit.edu/updates/mit-submits-final-development-plans-kendall-square-initiative-cambridge-planning-board" target="_blank">final development plan and special permit application</a> to the city in November for two planned unit developments — “NoMa” (north of Main Street) and “SoMa” (south of Main Street). In addition, formal input from several city departments and committees related to the proposal was submitted to the Planning Board for its consideration.</p> <p>The Kendall Square Initiative aims to create a vibrant mixed-use district featuring six new buildings on what are now MIT-owned parking lots in the East Campus/Kendall Square area, including three buildings for research and development, two for housing, and one for retail and office space. The plan will produce approximately 250 net new housing units for graduate students and approximately 290 new housing units for market use, more than 100,000 square feet of new and repositioned ground-floor retail, and nearly three acres of new and repurposed open spaces — in addition to providing research and development space in support of Kendall Square’s growing innovation district.</p> <p>The Initiative was developed as a result of approximately seven years of internal and external dialogue. The Cambridge City Council <a href="http://news.mit.edu/2013/kendall-square-zoning-petition-approved-0409" target="_self">approved new zoning</a> for MIT’s properties in the East Campus/Kendall Square area in 2013, laying the foundation for the advancement of the mixed-use proposal.</p> <p>The Jan. 5 presentation was led by Marty Schmidt, MIT’s provost; Hashim Sarkis, dean of the School of Architecture and Planning and professor of architecture; Karen Gleason, associate provost and the Alexander and I. Michael Kasser Professor of Chemical Engineering; and Steve Marsh, managing director of real estate in MIT’s Investment Management Company, in addition to the architects who are designing each of the buildings and the landscape architect who is designing the open space.</p> <p>Provost Marty Schmidt opened the SoMa presentation by describing the comprehensive effort involved in examining MIT’s East Campus area: “This was an incredible process with many stakeholders. We were presented with a unique opportunity to expand our residential community, infuse new vibrancy into Kendall Square with retail and public gathering spaces, create space for innovative research and development activities, introduce a new gateway to MIT, and create a vibrant crossroads that will connect us more closely to the Cambridge community.” Schmidt thanked Sarkis and faculty from the School of Architecture and Planning for their steady leadership and guidance during the process.</p> <p>Associate Provost Karen Gleason reflected on the introduction of new graduate student housing in the heart of Kendall Square: “Graduate students are the engine of MIT. It’s critical that they are an integral component of the Kendall Square ecosystem.”</p> <p>In providing an overview to the design approaches for the six buildings, Sarkis described how the process is guided by “a collective vision that encourages individuality.” He cited five main strategies that were developed organically among the architects: to create buildings that have clearly defined bases, middles, and tops; to preserve and enhance the existing historical buildings; to differentiate the building masses further with horizontal and vertical breaks; to create a variety of façade types using different approaches to sustainability; and to design an array of outdoor spaces that will facilitate pedestrian flow and a strong public realm. Sarkis praised the architectural teams, noting their “robust professionalism and creativity.”</p> <p>Steve Marsh closed MIT’s presentation by thanking city staff and Planning Board members for their dedicated work alongside MIT: “We are creating an exciting place where MIT, the residential community, and businesses can gather, socialize, and collaborate.”&nbsp;</p> <p>After the presentation, several members of the public offered comments and observations related to a variety of topics, including pedestrian and bicycle connections; the nature of retail; wayfinding; the interface with historical structures; graduate student housing; MBTA service; parking; open space; shadow and lighting impacts; and building design.</p> <p>Planning Board members expressed appreciation for the hard work on the part of MIT and City of Cambridge staff, and shared thoughts regarding the complexity of city-making, the importance of civic “spaces for all,” the art of placemaking, the need for careful consideration in order to achieve authenticity in Kendall Square, the balancing of architectural diversity and coherence, and the creation of programmatic elements that are uniquely MIT.</p> <p>Follow-up questions were raised by Planning Board members regarding open-space design and programming; wind and shadow impacts; vehicular access; the exploration of alternative and green facades; the nature of the extension of the Infinite Corridor; graduate student housing; the placement of the MBTA headhouse; bicycle facilities; loading operations; the accommodation of museum visitors; the flood plain district; parking; mechanical equipment; and construction phasing.</p> <p>In considering MIT’s fulfillment of the planned unit development requirements, Planning Board member Hugh Russell quipped about the contemporary and varying styles of the proposed building designs: “MIT has done everything that we’ve asked them to do and they’ve surprised us. Well, we may just have to step up to the plate and be surprised.”</p> <p>At the close of the nearly five-hour hearing, Planning Board Chair Ted Cohen observed: “It is a very exciting proposal and there is a tremendous amount that is excellent in it. We are getting close to what we need to approve the planned unit development.”</p> <p>The Planning Board’s public hearing process will continue over the coming months. The next hearing will focus on details related to the public realm including retail, open space, and ground floor design. Once the next hearing date is established, it will be posted on the <a href="http://kendallsquare.mit.edu/" target="_blank">Kendall Square Initiative website</a>. As always, questions, comments, and ideas about the development proposal can be sent to <a href="mailto:kendallsquare@mit.edu">kendallsquare@mit.edu</a>.</p> Design: Elkus|Manfredi Architects. Rendering: By-EncoreKendall Square, Design, Administration, Cambridge, Boston and region, Campus buildings and architecture, Community, Facilities, Residential life, Architecture, Real estate, School of Architecture and Planning, Provost Fernanda Sánchez Attolini wins inaugural real estate scholarship http://news.mit.edu/2015/cresior-new-england-award-inaugural-real-estate-scholarship-1214 Graduate student awarded first Scholarship for Real Estate Excellence from the Society of Industrial and Office Realtors and the MIT Center for Real Estate Mon, 14 Dec 2015 14:52:01 -0500 School of Architecture and Planning http://news.mit.edu/2015/cresior-new-england-award-inaugural-real-estate-scholarship-1214 <p>Fernanda Sánchez Attolini, a graduate student from Mexico City and rising&nbsp;professional in the real estate industry, has received the inaugural Scholarship&nbsp;for Real Estate Excellence established by the Society of Industrial and Office Realtors (SIOR) New England Chapter, Inc. and the MIT Center&nbsp;for Real Estate&nbsp;(CRE).</p> <p>The $5,000 scholarship recognizes a CRE student who demonstrates&nbsp;excellence and possesses attributes consistent with SIOR’s mission to promote and support&nbsp;initiatives that expand, educate, and enhance the commercial real estate community. SIOR is a professional affiliate of the National Association of&nbsp;Realtors.</p> <p>“It is important to recognize the next generation of real estate professionals like Fernanda,” said&nbsp;Don Mancini, president of SIOR New England Chapter, Inc. “I was proud to collaborate with&nbsp;the MIT Center for Real Estate to present her with this award, and am confident that she will&nbsp;continue to serve as a committed and thoughtful leader throughout her career.”</p> <p>Sánchez Attolini is pursuing a master of science in real estate development (MSRED) degree at MIT's Center for Real Estate. After earning a bachelor’s&nbsp;degree in civil engineering from the Universidad Anáhuac (Mexico Norte), she worked for five&nbsp;years at the global real estate services firm Jones Lang LaSalle (JLL) in Mexico City. As part of&nbsp;JLL’s Resort Advisory and Development Group, among other projects, Sánchez Attolini was key in&nbsp;funding and closing the first development project of JLL México, Las Marietas Punta Mita, a $160 million project comprised of 84 luxury residential units in the Punta Mita Resort in&nbsp;Nayarit, Mexico.</p> <p>“I am honored to be the recipient of the inaugural Scholarship for Real Estate Excellence, and I&nbsp;am really thankful to SIOR New England and the MIT Center for Real Estate for this&nbsp;recognition,” Sánchez Attolini said. “Real estate has been my passion ever since I can remember, and&nbsp;this award reinforces my commitment to the field and encourages me to continue pursuing my&nbsp;professional goals.”</p> MIT graduate student Fernanda Sánchez AttoliniPhoto courtesy MIT Center for Real EstateSchool of Architecture and Planning, Real estate, Center for Real Estate, Students, Graduate, postdoctoral, Awards, honors and fellowships, Mexico Buildings from the institutional investor perspective http://news.mit.edu/2015/buildings-institutional-investor-perspective-1113 Center for Real Estate hosts architects and engineers from the National Association for Real Estate Investment Managers. Fri, 13 Nov 2015 13:30:01 -0500 MIT Center for Real Estate http://news.mit.edu/2015/buildings-institutional-investor-perspective-1113 <p>Buildings should be green and energy-efficient. Vapor intrusion is the biggest risk to building decay. Engineering challenges in estimating construction and replacement costs remain elusive. And architects and engineers at the largest institutional banks, pension funds, and investment firms are eager to understand the inventions and innovations that will undergird a better-built environment.</p> <p>These were the central takeaways from a recent meeting of the Architectural and Engineering Council of the National Association of Real Estate Investment Managers (<a href="http://www.nareim.org" target="_blank">NAREIM</a>), hosted at the <a href="https://mitcre.mit.edu" target="_blank">MIT Center for Real Estate</a> (CRE).</p> <p>NAREIM is a national organization dedicated to studying best practices for the built environment, reducing risk for stakeholders, and establishing effective and productive relationships with developers. The Architecture and Engineering session hosted at MIT focused on the technical and strategic details of development and redevelopment.</p> <p>“This group is keenly focused on the future of the built environment. Bringing together NAREIM members with MIT researchers resulted in a fascinating and productive exchange,” said Andrea Chegut, the CRE research scientist who organized the conference for MIT. “The MIT academics learned from this group of architects and engineers responsible for active projects around the world, and participants gained a window into cutting-edge research at MIT with the potential to influence the industry.”</p> <p>NAREIM members manage investment capital on behalf of third-party investors in commercial real estate assets such as office, retail, multi-family, industrial, and hotels. According to the NAREIM website, its members collectively manage over a trillion dollars of investments assets.</p> <p>"There is a broad range of forces, ranging from global capital to new technologies and behaviors of millions of people who use, share, and invest in the built environment, that are pushing us to re-think what our industry can and should do,” said Gunnar Branson, president and CEO of NAREIM. “We have no choice but to challenge assumptions, understand potential future scenarios, and build better strategies. It would be difficult to imagine a more appropriate setting and better experts to help real estate leaders uncover the future of their industry than the MIT Center for Real Estate."</p> <p>Meeting sessions focused on:</p> <ul> <li><a href="http://www.urbanmetabolism.org" target="_blank">urban metabolism</a>, or modeling the flow of materials and energy within built environments, with John Fernandez, the new director of the <a href="http://environmentalsolutions.mit.edu" target="_blank">MIT Environmental Solutions Initiative</a> and a professor in the Building Technology Group in the School of Architecture and Planning;</li> <li>advanced research into materials and technologies that could impact the future of construction and buildings, with Vladimir Bulović, the Fariborz Maseeh Chair in Emerging Technology and co-director of the <a href="https://innovation.mit.edu" target="_blank">MIT Innovation Initiative</a>;</li> <li>a review of <a href="https://mitnano.mit.edu" target="_blank">MIT.nano</a>, a new 200,000-square-foot center for nanoscience and nanotechnology currently under construction at the center of MIT’s campus, with project manager Travis Wanat;</li> <li>providing incentives to contractors and developers to put up structures with integrity for a lifecycle strong resilient built environment, with CRE lecturer <a href="https://mitcre.mit.edu/about/faculty/christopher-gordon" target="_blank">Christopher Gordon</a>; and</li> <li>the financial advantages of engineering resilient and sustainable structures, with <a href="http://cee.mit.edu/gregory" target="_blank">Jeremy Gregory</a>, the executive director of the <a href="http://cshub.mit.edu" target="_blank">Concrete Sustainability Hub</a>.</li> </ul> <p>“We tried to offer a program that showed how engineering, design, and finance partnerships can generate buildings that are more sustainable, cost-effective, and valuable over their full lifecycle,” Chegut said. “It was wonderful to offer this forum for NAREIM members to come together to discuss the future of the industry. We’d love to host NAREIM at MIT again.”</p> MITMIT School of Architecture and PlanningSchool of Architecture and Planning, Real estate, Sustainability, Environment, Industry, Development DUSP, CRE, and STL Lab award $1.5 million in first round of faculty research funding http://news.mit.edu/2015/dusp-cre-and-stl-lab-award-first-round-faculty-research-funding-0922 Thirteen grants awarded to MIT faculty and researchers from four different schools. Tue, 22 Sep 2015 15:52:01 -0400 School of Architecture and Planning http://news.mit.edu/2015/dusp-cre-and-stl-lab-award-first-round-faculty-research-funding-0922 <p>The Samuel Tak Lee MIT Real Estate Entrepreneurship Lab (STL Lab), in conjunction with the Center for Real Estate (CRE) and the Department of Urban Studies and Planning (DUSP), has announced its first round of faculty research grants, awarding $1.5 million to 13 MIT researchers and their teams.</p> <p>The STL Lab is named after Samuel Tak Lee ’62, SM ’64, an alumnus and global real estate developer whose <a href="http://news.mit.edu/2015/samuel-tak-lee-gift-real-estate-entrepreneurship-lab-0108" target="_self">historic gift</a> to MIT in January established the STL Lab to promote social responsibility among entrepreneurs and thought leaders in the real estate profession worldwide, with a particular focus on China.</p> <p>The STL Lab’s faculty research grants support inventive projects that advance the understanding of opportunities and challenges in real estate development and entrepreneurship. For this round of funding, the STL Lab focused on supporting research projects at two levels: seed grants between $20,000 and $50,000, and larger projects up to $150,000. Thirty-one proposals were submitted, featuring cutting-edge research in:</p> <ul> <li>global real estate and sustainable urbanization through private action and entrepreneurship; 
</li> <li>urban resilience and adaptation; 
</li> <li>land use reform regulations, standards, and codes; 
</li> <li>technologies and the built environment: innovative design, new construction materials, 
and real estate and big data; 
</li> <li>affordable housing; 
</li> <li>environmental aspects of urban growth and development best practices; and 
</li> <li>land and real property rights. 
</li> </ul> <p>“The quality and number of the proposals that we received was remarkable, given that the STL Lab is only seven months old,” said Yu-Hung Hong, director of the STL Lab. “The cross-disciplinary creativity and ingenuity of the proposals was astounding.”</p> <p>Funding was granted to projects undertaken by junior and senior MIT faculty and research scientists. The funded projects are:</p> <p><a href="https://stl.mit.edu/project/new-entrepreneurship-and-smes-within-urban-cores-barriers-entry" target="_blank">New Entrepreneurship and SMEs within Urban Cores: Barriers to Entry?</a><br /> Principal investigators: Arindam Dutta, Department of Architecture</p> <p><a href="https://stl.mit.edu/project/dynamics-real-estate-development-china-theory-and-education" target="_blank">Dynamics of Real Estate Development in China: Theory and Education</a><br /> PIs: David Geltner, Department of Urban Studies and Planning and Center for Real Estate; Richard de Neufville, School of Engineering</p> <p><a href="https://stl.mit.edu/project/mining-big-data-link-affordable-housing-policy-traffic-congestion-mitigation-beijing-china" target="_blank">Mining Big Data to Link Affordable Housing Policy with Traffic Congestion Mitigation in Beijing, China</a><br /> PI: Marta C. Gonzalez, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering</p> <p><a href="https://stl.mit.edu/project/development-environmental-quality-and-location-polluting-industry-case-study-chinas-beijing" target="_blank">Development, environmental quality, and the location of polluting industry: A case study of China’s Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei region</a><br /> PI: Valerie Karplus, MIT Sloan School of Management</p> <p><a href="https://stl.mit.edu/project/developing-littoral-gradient" target="_blank">Developing the Littoral Gradient</a><br /> PIs: Brent D. Ryan, Department of Urban Studies and Planning; Fadi Masoud, Department of Urban Studies and Planning</p> <p><a href="https://stl.mit.edu/project/supply-housing-and-real-estate-china-land-allocations-and-building-densities" target="_blank">The Supply of Housing and Real Estate in China: Land Allocation and Building Densities</a><br /> PIs: Albert Saiz, Department of Urban Studies and Planning and Center of Real Estate; Thies Lindenthal, Cambridge University; Siqi Zheng, Tsinghua University</p> <p><a href="https://stl.mit.edu/project/new-model-urban-rural-fringe-jiangsu-province" target="_blank">A New Model for the Urban-rural Fringe in Jiangsu Province</a><br /> PI: Adele Naude Santos, Department of Architecture</p> <p><a href="https://stl.mit.edu/project/real-estate-industry-financial-markets-and-economic-development-organizing-and-utilizing" target="_blank">Real Estate Industry, Financial Markets, and Economic Development: Organizing and utilizing micro data to determine the interaction of the real estate sector with the financial sector, and their impacts on the macro economy of China</a><br /> PI: Robert M. Townsend, Department of Economics</p> <p><a href="https://stl.mit.edu/project/how-does-property-tax-reform-affect-citizen-government-relations-china" target="_blank">How does Property Tax Reform Affect Citizen-Government Relations in China?</a><br /> PIs: Lily L. Tsai, Department of Political Science; Xiaobo Lü, University of Texas, Austin</p> <p><a href="https://stl.mit.edu/project/affordable-housing-and-resilient-chinese-city-seeking-strategies-urban-village-redevelopment" target="_blank">Affordable Housing and the Resilient Chinese City: Seeking Strategies for Urban Village Redevelopment in a Changing Climate</a><br /> PI: Lawrence J. Vale, Department of Urban Studies and Planning</p> <p><a href="https://stl.mit.edu/project/implementing-tod-china-supply-side-investigation" target="_blank">Implementing TOD in China: A Supply Side Investigation</a><br /> PI: P. Christopher Zegras, Department of Urban Studies and Planning</p> <p><a href="https://stl.mit.edu/project/mega-regionalization-and-urban-reconfiguration-spatial-and-wider-economic-impacts-chinas" target="_blank">Mega-Regionalization and Urban Reconfiguration: The Spatial and Wider Economic Impacts of China’s High-Speed Rail System</a><br /> PI: Jinhua Zhao, Department of Urban Studies and Planning</p> <p><a href="https://stl.mit.edu/project/cities-talk-back-using-social-media-and-crowdsourcing-analyze-chinese-city" target="_blank">Cities That Talk Back: Using Social Media and Crowdsourcing to Analyze the Chinese City</a><br /> PI: Sarah Williams, Department of Urban Studies and Planning</p> Cranes over ShanghaiGonzalo RA/FlickrGrants, Real estate, Center for Real Estate, Urban studies and planning, Political science, Economics, Civil and environmental engineering, STL Lab, School of Architecture and Planning, SHASS, Sloan School of Management, Architecture, Innovation and Entrepreneurship (I&E), Global, China, Funding, Research, Sustainability, International development DUSP, CRE, and Samuel Tak Lee Lab welcome inaugural class of fellows http://news.mit.edu/2015/dusp-cre-and-samuel-tak-lee-lab-welcome-inaugural-class-fellows-0917 Graduate students arrive to study socially responsible real estate development and global urbanization. Thu, 17 Sep 2015 14:05:01 -0400 School of Architecture and Planning http://news.mit.edu/2015/dusp-cre-and-samuel-tak-lee-lab-welcome-inaugural-class-fellows-0917 <p>The MIT Department of Urban Studies (DUSP), Center for Real Estate (CRE), and the Samuel Tak Lee MIT Real Estate Entrepreneurship Lab (STL Lab) have announced the inaugural class of STL Fellows, welcoming 12 master's students to MIT to study socially responsible real estate development and global urbanization.</p> <p>Half of the fellows will study in the Master in City Planning (MCP) program in DUSP, and half are Master of Science in Real Estate Development (MSRED) students and will join the newly launched STL Lab, which is administered by CRE and DUSP.</p> <p>The MCP program provides graduate professional education for persons who will assume planning roles in public, private, and nonprofit agencies, firms, and international institutions, in the United States and abroad. MCP graduates work in a broad array of roles, from traditional city planning to economic, social, and environmental planning. In addition to its core requirements, the program offers four areas of specialization: city design and development; environmental policy and planning; housing, community, and economic development; and international development.</p> <p>The MSRED is a concentrated, science-and-technology based graduate degree in real estate. Launched in 1983 by the CRE, the MSRED is the first one-year degree of its kind, fulfilling a need for specialized education beyond the scope of the traditional MBA. The MSRED prepares students to compete in the global market with the research-based expertise necessary to solve complex problems in contemporary real estate.</p> <p>The STL Lab and the fellowships are named after Samuel Tak Lee ’62, SM ’64, an alumnus and global real estate developer whose <a href="http://news.mit.edu/2015/samuel-tak-lee-gift-real-estate-entrepreneurship-lab-0108" target="_self">historic gift</a> to MIT in January 2015 established the STL Lab to promote social responsibility among entrepreneurs and thought leaders in the real estate profession worldwide, with a particular focus on China.</p> <p>The lab also aims to tap the transformative power of real estate to shape the built environment. Some of the topics and projects that the lab will focus on include: development and urbanization through private action and entrepreneurship; urban resilience and adaptation; land-use reform regulations and codes; new construction materials; data and technology; affordable housing; and environmental aspects of urban growth and development.</p> <p>The members of the first class of STL Fellows are:</p> <p><strong>DUSP Students (MCP Program)</strong></p> <p><strong>Karmen Cheung</strong>: As an undergraduate at Yale University, Cheung studied environmental science and worked at an environmental consulting firm based in Boston. At MIT, she hopes to better understand the strategies through which greater affordable housing options can be developed for disadvantaged communities in the United States and the potential applications of these strategies to China.</p> <p><strong>Jintai Li:</strong> Li studied architecture at Tsinghua University in China. At MIT, he hopes to explore how technologies can change the way planners and developers perceive and engage with urban spaces, especially in terms of publicity and accessibility. He is equally interested in small-scale, mixed-use development in and on the brinks of the “historical” zones in Chinese cities, and has been involved in such design practices in Beijing and Guangzhou.</p> <p><strong>Yifei Lu:</strong> Lu is a Master of City Planning student in the City Design and Development group. Before coming to MIT, he studied architecture at Carnegie Mellon University and worked as an architectural designer for four years. Currently, he is interested in affordable housing in the United States and elsewhere, as well as climate change adaptation and resiliency of coastal megacities.</p> <p><strong>Waishan Qiu:</strong> Qiu studied urban planning at Tongji University in China and urban design at University College London in the United Kingdom. Focusing on the interaction of computation, information, and urbanism, Waishan wants to deploy open source information and real-time data to examine the mechanism for showing how investment flows couple with the materialized urban structure.</p> <p><strong>David Chin-Fei Wang:</strong> Wang is a graduate of Pomona College and a U.S. Fulbright Scholar. He researches the cultural meaning of mobility in urban China and how it might be understood to create more livable cities. Most recently David founded the Bamboo Bicycles Beijing, a social enterprise building a community of Beijing residents who design and build their own bicycles out of bamboo.</p> <p><strong>Wangke Wu:</strong> Wangke Wu holds a bachelor's degree from Peking University. He studies eminent domain in China, affordable housing for migrants, and China’s industrial land and rural land markets. His research considers land reform as a way to relieve high home prices in China's big cities, where owning a home is often unattainable, and to help policy makers understand and find solutions for rising land prices.</p> <p><strong>CRE Students (MSRED Program / STL Lab)</strong></p> <p><strong>Saurabh Jalori:</strong> Jalori&nbsp;studied architecture in India and building science at Arizona State University. He is interested in architectural design, building science, and real estate development. Rooted in his belief in the important role played by real estate developers in shaping the nature and future of cities, he intends to work on the development of high-performance, sustainable built environments.</p> <p><strong>Dandi Li:</strong> Born in China and raised in Finland, Li studied at the Ecole hôtelière de Lausanne, Switzerland, and worked in the development field for international hotel chains. With China’s increasing demand for senior care, Li is interested in exploring retirement housing options and public and private sector involvement strategies for the development of affordable retirement communities.</p> <p><strong>Stacey Spurr</strong>: Spurr studied finance and economics at Lehigh University. She has worked for two large real estate investment organizations overseeing portfolios of office and industrial properties. Spurr seeks to develop creative, sustainable solutions to the natural tensions that exist between owners, tenants, and the broader urban community.</p> <p><strong>Kevin Murphy:</strong> Murphy studied real estate and entrepreneurship at the University of South Carolina. His focus is sustainable growth and development in underserved areas of the world and exploring ways to make urban planning, development initiatives, and smart growth techniques and technologies accessible to a wider audience.</p> <p><strong>Qing Wang:</strong> After graduating from Tsinghua University, Wang spent six years focused on business development and foreign investment in real estate in China. At the STL Lab, Qing plans to study innovative business models and government policy for the Chinese real estate industry, as well as integrating global practices of smart growth in China to develop a sustainable future.</p> <p><strong>Wensi Zhai: </strong>After studying architecture and urban planning and design at Tsinghua University in China, Zhai worked in the real estate industry for five years. Zhai plans to research sustainable real estate development with a focus on physical space, the creation of lifestyle and social relationships, and the establishment of innovative business models to developing high-quality urban communities.&nbsp;</p> 2015 Samuel Tak Lee Fellows: Qing Wang, Wangke Wu, Wensi Zhai, Jintai Li, Karmen Cheung, David Wang, Stacey Middlebrook, Kevin Murphy, Dandi Li, Yifei Lu, and Waishan QiuJudy DanielsReal estate, Center for Real Estate, Urban studies and planning, Architecture, School of Architecture and Planning, Innovation and Entrepreneurship (I&E), Students, Awards, honors and fellowships, Global, Graduate, postdoctoral, STL Lab MIT presents Kendall Square Initiative plan to Cambridge Planning Board http://news.mit.edu/2015/mit-presents-kendall-square-initiative-plan-cambridge-planning-board Board votes unanimously to allow MIT proposal to advance to next stage. Wed, 09 Sep 2015 16:30:00 -0400 News Office http://news.mit.edu/2015/mit-presents-kendall-square-initiative-plan-cambridge-planning-board <p>Two and a half years after the Cambridge City Council approved <a href="http://news.mit.edu/2013/kendall-square-zoning-petition-approved-0409">new zoning</a> for MIT’s properties in the East Campus/Kendall Square area, the Institute has formally advanced its Kendall Square Initiative development proposal to the Cambridge Planning Board.</p> <p>At a four-hour hearing last night, MIT officials presented an <a href="http://kendallsquare.mit.edu/sites/default/files/documents/KSI_PlanningBoard_2015-09-08_SoMa_and_NoMa.pdf">overview</a> of the proposal, which describes the overall development plan and demonstrates how it meets the city’s requirements and goals for Kendall Square. The Planning Board took two unanimous votes to approve the issuance of a Preliminary Determination on the Development Proposal that will allow MIT to proceed to the next stage of the process.</p> <p>MIT <a href="http://news.mit.edu/2015/kendall-square-filing-0728">submitted applications</a> in July for two separate Planned Unit Development permits, referred to as “NoMa” (north of Main Street) and “SoMa” (south of Main Street). In addition, the Institute filed two accompanying Project Review Special Permit applications that will address more detailed elements of the proposal including building design, traffic impact, open space, retail strategy, pedestrian experience, and other features of the mixed-use plan.</p> <p>The submittals were developed following seven years of extensive internal and external dialogue about MIT’s plan. The Planning Board is reviewing all of the applications together.</p> <p>Last night’s Planning Board meeting was attended by Israel Ruiz, MIT’s executive vice president and treasurer; Hashim Sarkis, dean of the School of Architecture and Planning and professor of architecture; J. Meejin Yoon, professor and head of the Department of Architecture; Karen Gleason, associate provost and the Alexander and I. Michael Kasser Professor of Chemical Engineering; and Steve Marsh, managing director of the MIT Investment Management Company.</p> <p>In opening the presentation, Ruiz characterized the Institute’s proposal as informed by “MIT’s history of partnership with industry in the advancement of the innovation economy, our East Campus area, and the integration of new commercial development with our existing and future academic uses, and MIT’s housing program — past, present, and future.” Ruiz added that the proposed mixed-use development should “blend seamlessly with neighboring communities.”</p> <p>The Kendall Square Initiative development proposal aims to create a vibrant mixed-use district featuring six new buildings on what are now MIT-owned parking lots in the East Campus/Kendall Square area, including three buildings for research and development, two for housing, and one for retail and office space. The plan will produce approximately 270 net new housing units for graduate students and approximately 290 new housing units for market use, more than 100,000 square feet of new and repositioned ground-floor retail, and nearly three acres of new and repurposed open spaces — in addition to providing research and development space in support of Kendall Square’s growing innovation district.</p> <p>“The project is a tremendous opportunity [with] very clear and shared goals,” Sarkis said in presenting the design concepts for the six individual buildings. “They are a harmonious family with a focus on integration with the historical character of Kendall Square, but also creating an exemplary and forward-looking urban environment: vibrant, diverse, and inclusive.”</p> <p>The proposed three-acre open space framework has been well-received by both the MIT and Cambridge communities. The Institute plans to hire a director of open space programming to oversee the curation of a vibrant and active public area and work closely with an open space and retail advisory committee to be formed later in the development process. Sarkis described the proposed open space as an exciting and welcoming area where people can “meet, bump into each other, and connect.”</p> <p>Several members of the public offered comments related to the applications. Observations and suggestions were made in a variety of areas, including transit analysis, wind and shadow impacts, open space features, building design, interface with historical structures, traffic impact, the street level experience, and retail strategy.</p> <p>Planning Board members asked questions and shared thoughts regarding the site plan, open space programming, transit capacity, pedestrian and neighborhood connections, design concepts, building materials, housing, retail diversity, treatment of mechanical systems, skyline perspectives, loading and parking operations, and bicycle facilities.</p> <p>At the close of the hearing, Planning Board Chairman Ted Cohen offered that the development plan “does a lot of tremendously good things.”</p> <p>The Planning Board’s public hearing process will take several months to complete. The next hearing date, which will focus on more detailed elements of the proposal, is not yet scheduled. Once the date is established, it will be posted on the <a href="http://kendallsquare.mit.edu/">Kendall Square Initiative website</a>. As always, questions, comments, and ideas about the development proposal can be sent to <a href="mailto:kendallsquare@mit.edu">kendallsquare@mit.edu</a>.</p> Overview of the site planImage: Hargreaves Associates and Landworks StudioKendall Square, Design, Administration, Cambridge, Boston and region, Campus buildings and architecture, Community, Facilities, Residential life, Architecture, Real estate, School of Architecture and Planning, cambridge MIT takes next step in advancing Kendall Square Initiative http://news.mit.edu/2015/kendall-square-filing-0728 Institute files application for Cambridge Planning Board review. Tue, 28 Jul 2015 22:19:59 -0400 News Office http://news.mit.edu/2015/kendall-square-filing-0728 <p>Following recent <a href="http://newsoffice.mit.edu/2015/kendall-square-initiative-next-steps-0507">community meetings</a> to provide the campus and broader Cambridge communities with an update on MIT’s Kendall Square Initiative, the Institute has triggered the next phase of the review process by filing its Project Review and Planned Unit Development special permit applications with the Cambridge Planning Board.</p> <p>The special permit process will examine all aspects of the proposal — including design, infrastructure, transportation, parking, and the public realm experience. The Institute’s proposal to create a vibrant mixed-use development features six new buildings on MIT-owned parking lots in the East Campus/Kendall Square area, including three for research and development, two for housing, and one for retail and office space. The Cambridge City Council <a href="http://newsoffice.mit.edu/2013/kendall-square-zoning-petition-approved-0409">approved</a> MIT’s rezoning petition in April 2013, which defined the parameters of the proposed development.</p> <p>“Today’s filing represents a key step forward in getting to an exciting future for Kendall Square,” Executive Vice President and Treasurer Israel Ruiz says. “It will likely take six to 10 years to complete this vision, but I am really thrilled about how Kendall Square and MIT’s East Campus will be positively transformed in the coming decade.”&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;</p> <p>The Initiative will produce 500 net new housing units for graduate students and for market use, more than 100,000 square feet of new and repositioned ground-floor retail, and nearly 3 acres of new and repurposed connected open spaces — in addition to providing research and development space. The anticipated investment in the development of these projects will be at least $1.2 billion.</p> <p>“We’ve come a long way, and I’m pleased with this thoughtful and robust proposal,” Provost Martin Schmidt says. “The critical involvement of the leadership of the School of Architecture and Planning helped us to crystalize our vision for East Campus. I want to express the Institute’s appreciation to Dean Hashim Sarkis and J. Meejin Yoon, head of the Department of Architecture, along with many of their colleagues and Associate Provost Karen Gleason, for guiding us to the current proposal. It has been an impressive team effort with a sound result.”</p> <p>“As a bold new gateway to MIT, Kendall Square opens a new frontier for us to reimagine the relationship between town and gown,” Sarkis says. “Public spaces open into the campus and allow students, professors, residents, and visitors to mix. I am very excited for that future to be set in motion and believe we have all the right ingredients in place for it to unfold.”</p> <p>The MIT Investment Management Company (MITIMCo) is leading the public review effort on behalf of the Institute, under the direction of the provost and the executive vice president and treasurer. “The first Cambridge Planning Board hearing to review MIT’s proposal will likely take place in September,” MITIMCo Managing Director Steve Marsh says, noting that the process has been under way for six years.&nbsp;“The full review process will take several months.”</p> <p>More information about the project can be found on the <a href="http://kendallsquare.mit.edu/">Kendall Square Initiative website</a>. Questions, comments, and ideas can be sent to <a href="mailto:kendallsquare@mit.edu">kendallsquare@mit.edu</a>.</p>Main Street in Kendall SquarePhoto: Patrick GilloolyKendall Square, Design, Administration, Cambridge, Boston and region, Campus buildings and architecture, Community, Facilities, Provost, Residential life, Architecture, Real estate, School of Architecture and Planning Kendall Square Initiative ready to take next steps http://news.mit.edu/2015/kendall-square-initiative-next-steps-0507 Proposed building designs presented at two community meetings. Thu, 07 May 2015 10:30:00 -0400 News Office http://news.mit.edu/2015/kendall-square-initiative-next-steps-0507 <p>Nearly 200 people attended two community meetings yesterday on MIT’s Kendall Square Initiative. These meetings were a follow-up to an April <a href="http://newsoffice.mit.edu/2015/letter-regarding-mits-kendall-square-and-east-campus-design-process">update to the MIT community</a> from Provost Martin Schmidt, Chancellor Cynthia Barnhart, and Executive Vice President and Treasurer Israel Ruiz regarding plans in the East Campus/Kendall Square area, and the launch of a study process for the West Campus area.</p> <p>The two identical meetings —&nbsp;one held at noon at the Stratton Student Center and another held at 6 p.m. at the Kendall Square Marriott —&nbsp;included a <a href="http://kendallsquare.mit.edu/sites/default/files/documents/KSI_Update_2015-0506.pdf">presentation</a> of the proposed designs for six buildings to be developed on MIT-owned parking lots in the East Campus/Kendall Square area. Schmidt, Ruiz, Associate Provost Karen Gleason, Managing Director of Real Estate Steve Marsh, and several of the Initiative’s architects took turns presenting the overall development plan, including the building designs, open space framework, retail strategy, and sustainability approach.</p> <p>MIT officials summarized the overarching priorities for the Kendall Square Initiative, including advancing Kendall Square as a destination with diverse retail and active open spaces; as a residential center with mixed-income market housing and graduate student housing; and as an innovation and academic district that will serve to accelerate the Institute’s mission.</p> <p>They also described the next step for the development, which is the “Article 19” project review process with the City of Cambridge Planning Board. In introducing the presentation, Ruiz thanked those gathered for their role in shaping the Initiative. “It is truly a better project because of your participation and input,” he said.</p> <p>The Kendall Square Initiative features:</p> <ul> <li>six buildings, including three for research and development, two for housing, and one for retail and office space;</li> <li>500 net new housing units that will bring added vitality to Kendall Square;</li> <li>more than 100,000 square feet of new and repositioned ground-floor retail;</li> <li>nearly three acres of new and repurposed connected open spaces;</li> <li>the preservation and integration of three historically significant buildings; and</li> <li>the retention of 800,000 square feet of existing capacity for future academic use.</li> </ul> <p>The primarily positive — and sometimes enthusiastic — comments and questions raised by the MIT and Cambridge attendees at the meetings covered a wide range of topics, including transportation, housing, parking, open space, food trucks, building design, retail amenities such as a market and drugstore, bicycle and pedestrian access, connections to the Charles River, and the timing and proposed phasing of the development.</p> <p>One of the most frequently raised topics throughout the public engagement process has related to the creation of housing. MIT has always planned to include housing at the One Broadway parcel, but as a result of feedback from both the MIT and Cambridge communities, the housing at that site has increased significantly — to about 290 units of mixed-income market housing, including 50 units designated as affordable housing.</p> <p>Also in response to both MIT and Cambridge input, the Institute decided to add plans for a new residence hall for graduate students in the heart of Kendall Square. This facility will replace the 201 graduate housing units currently located in Eastgate, and will add approximately 270 more, for a total of approximately 470 units.</p> <p>In describing the new graduate student housing, Schmidt cited the thorough work of the Graduate Student Housing Working Group, led by former chancellor Phillip Clay, the Class of 1922 Professor in the Department of Urban Studies and Planning. “The working group carried out a very careful <a href="http://newsoffice.mit.edu/2014/letter-regarding-final-report-graduate-student-housing">review</a> of issues related to housing our graduate student population, resulting in a recommendation for new accommodations for 500 to 600 graduate students to address current unmet need,” Schmidt said. “We’re pleased to be able to implement half of that number in this development, and will look to other sections of the campus to site the other half.”</p> <p>Taken together, the new building at One Broadway and the new graduate residence hall will provide over 500 net new housing units in Kendall Square.</p> <p>Building on the careful analyses and recommendations from <a href="http://newsoffice.mit.edu/2014/letter-east-campus-kendall-square">several MIT studies</a> related to Kendall Square, East Campus, and graduate housing, MIT moved ahead — with faculty leadership from the School of Architecture and Planning (SA+P) — to engage with <a href="http://newsoffice.mit.edu/2014/schmidt-ruiz-letter-design-firm-selection-0923">five teams of architects</a> to design the new buildings. As a result, the designs are quite varied, reflecting the diverse and exciting nature of the Kendall Square innovation district.</p> <p>Marsh noted the vital role played by the former and current SA+P deans, Adele Naude Santos and Hashim Sarkis, and the former and current heads of the Department of Architecture, Nader Tehrani and J. Meejin Yoon. “Having all four of these faculty leaders involved in the initiative has ensured a seamless knitting together of the varying elements of the project,” Marsh said.</p> <p>Another topic that has been of great interest to the broader community has been the function and feel of the proposed open space. Extensive input has led to a plan that recaptures approximately 3 acres of existing parking lots south of Main Street to create a connected series of open spaces that will reflect the community’s desire for active programming and recreation.</p> <p>“We want everyone to feel not only welcome, but warmly invited to participate in the offerings of this area,” Marsh said. The plan also enables increased activation of Main Street and Broad Canal Way through new and enhanced retail.</p> <p>The City of Cambridge <a href="http://newsoffice.mit.edu/2013/kendall-square-zoning-petition-approved-0409">approved MIT’s zoning</a> for the land it owns in Kendall Square in April 2013 after an extensive five-year engagement process. The approved zoning sets physical parameters for the buildings — including design requirements, heights, setbacks, and density — and establishes minimum thresholds for affordable housing, retail, open space, and innovation space.</p> <p>The zoning process also resulted in MIT’s commitment to a range of community benefits, including contributions to Cambridge-based nonprofits; a feasibility study regarding the use of MIT’s property adjacent to the existing Grand Junction railroad tracks, parallel to Vassar Street, as a community path; the transfer of an MIT-owned parcel located in Area IV to the City of Cambridge; and the establishment of an open space and retail advisory committee, among several other programs.</p> <p>More information about the project can be found on the <a href="http://kendallsquare.mit.edu/">Kendall Square Initiative website</a>. Questions, comments, and ideas can be sent to <a href="mailto:kendallsquare@mit.edu">kendallsquare@mit.edu</a>.</p> A rendering of the proposed Site 5, which will include the MIT Museum, research and development facilities, and retail stores. Image: Weiss/ManfrediKendall Square, Design, Administration, Cambridge, Boston and region, Campus buildings and architecture, Community, Facilities, Provost, Residential life, Architecture, Real estate, School of Architecture and Planning Real estate and reality http://news.mit.edu/2015/faculty-profile-abert-saiz-0429 MIT economist Albert Saiz studies real estate and its many links to urban life. Wed, 29 Apr 2015 00:00:00 -0400 Peter Dizikes | MIT News Office http://news.mit.edu/2015/faculty-profile-abert-saiz-0429 <p>Are you interested in cities and urban form? Do you ever wonder, for instance, why new housing developments spring up in certain places, but not others?</p> <p>So does Albert Saiz, an associate professor in MIT’s Department of Urban Studies and Planning (DUSP) and director of both the MIT Center for Real Estate (CRE) and the Urban Economics Lab. In recent years, Saiz has published multiple papers examining the underlying, often hidden factors behind the supply of places to live in big cities.</p> <p>“There’s not enough work on the supply side of housing, so a lot of my research has been on that,” Saiz explains, listing several of the factors that affect new building projects — construction costs, land supply, local policies, geographic constraints.</p> <p>Or perhaps you’re interested in immigration and cities. What are the patterns in which immigrants arrive and stay within cities? How much integration or segregation do they experience? Over the last decade, Saiz has become a leader on this topic as well, publishing an array of papers and spearheading a large project that’s currently looking at European immigration patterns.</p> <p>Maybe you’re also interested in, say, gender and politics, and want to know how female politicians fare in elections in urban areas. Saiz has been there, too: He has a new paper on the subject, due to be published soon, based on a sudden change in election laws in his native Spain.</p> <p>In short, Saiz is an economist with a nearly boundless appetite for social inquiry across a number of fields — which he usually chooses to pursue as it relates to cities.</p> <p>“It’s a very nice field in the sense that it’s very multidisciplinary,” Saiz says, of urban economics. “These social tissues are localized in cities.” The energy he draws from interdisciplinary inquiry is helping him oversee the current expansion of CRE, and add economic tools to DUSP’s research portfolio.</p> <p>“I’ve always been a very intellectually curious person,” Saiz says. “I come to my office every single day and I learn something new. Every single day. And that’s just the best job I could have.”</p> <p><strong>From Spain to MIT</strong></p> <p>Saiz grew up in Girona, a city in northeastern Spain with a much-visited medieval walled center. He received his BA and MA in economics from the Autonomous University of Barcelona, about 60 miles south. Both places, Saiz believes, helped imprint upon him a deep interest in urban form and the evolution of city spaces.</p> <p>“It’s a fantastic city,” Saiz says of Girona. “I’ve always been interested in urbanism and places; I like architecture and urban design. That’s a very Barcelona thing, too.”</p> <p>On another level, though, Saiz already knew he wanted to be an economist.</p> <p>“When I was 12 or 13, I was already pretty much set on that,” he reflects. “I was very precocious as to liking politics, policy, and world affairs. But I also liked math a lot. It seemed to me, at that tender age, that economics was great in marrying social interest with quantitative approaches.”</p> <p>Saiz came to the United States to do his PhD at Harvard University, graduating in 2002, and has largely stayed in the country since then. After getting his PhD, Saiz was hired in 2003 as an assistant professor at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School; in 2012, he joined MIT, where he is the Daniel Rose Associate Professor of Urban Economics and Real Estate.</p> <p><strong>“A great dialogue”</strong></p> <p>As director of the CRE, Saiz is overseeing a rapidly expanding portfolio of projects. The CRE is at the center of a <a href="http://newsoffice.mit.edu/2015/samuel-tak-lee-gift-real-estate-entrepreneurship-lab-0108">$118 million gift</a> from MIT alumnus Samuel Tak Lee ’62, SM ’64, announced in January. The gift, one of the largest MIT has ever received, will promote socially responsible entrepreneurship in real estate, with a particular emphasis on China.</p> <p>Saiz is continuing apace with his own research as well. One unique and sprawling project he is pursuing, on immigration in Europe, is examining whether long-established urban residents in Spain tend to move to suburbs after an influx of immigrants in their own neighborhoods. Tracking 40 million people over a decade, Saiz is using some big social-science data to map and study the question, and expects multiple papers to emerge from the research.</p> <p>Saiz also teaches DUSP students in subjects such as microeconomics and international housing, so they can have the “tools that they need when they have to think about projects and public finance,” he says.</p> <p>On the other hand, Saiz notes of his students, “I don’t have the skills that they do. So it’s a great dialogue, it’s a great exchange of skills. I learn about planning, architecture, design, traffic — it’s fantastic.”</p> <p>And whatever research questions Saiz pursues in the future, he suggests they will derive from the real-world issues he encounters as an urbanite and curious scholar.</p> <p>“Urban economics is about why there is so much traffic on this road, and how can we change incentives to make people drive less,” Saiz says. “It’s very tangible. Why is that building there, and why is it so tall? Why is the rent so high in one place, whereas you go somewhere else and it’s very different? It’s the tangibility of urbanism that makes me like urban economics.”</p> Albert SaizPhoto: Bryce VickmarkFaculty, Profile, Architecture, Urban studies and planning, Real estate, School of Architecture and Planning, STL Lab MIT Professional Education and Center for Real Estate announce new Certificate in Real Estate Finance and Development http://news.mit.edu/2015/mit-professional-education-and-center-real-estate-new-certificate-real-estate-finance-0302 Enrollment open for a five-course certificate program. Mon, 02 Mar 2015 12:35:01 -0500 MIT Professional Education http://news.mit.edu/2015/mit-professional-education-and-center-real-estate-new-certificate-real-estate-finance-0302 <p>This summer, MIT Professional Education, in collaboration with the MIT Center for Real Estate, will offer a certificate program in real estate.</p> <p>The Professional Certificate in Real Estate Finance and Development program, comprised of five courses and taught by world-renowned MIT faculty, will be offered June 8-19&nbsp;in Cambridge, Massachusetts. It is open to professionals from around the world and provides an unparalleled opportunity to obtain insights and skills in real estate development and investment strategies, and other key factors driving real estate markets. Participants will have the opportunity to network with and learn from other leading real estate professionals and gain the MIT experience in a condensed timeframe.</p> <p>“The collaboration between the MIT Center for Real Estate and MIT Professional Education opens an exciting opportunity,” says Albert Saiz, director of the MIT Center for Real Estate (CRE). “We expect our real estate professional classes to provide real value to a global audience of executives; top-notch and knowledge-thirsty upward professionals; and to provide training opportunities for large organizations seeking to educate and inspire their most-talented human assets.”</p> <p>Bhaskar Pant, executive director of MIT Professional Education, adds, “MIT Professional Education created the Professional Certificate in Real Estate program in response to global developments that underscore the need to comprehend real estate markets and underwriting real estate risk in order to truly understand financial markets. Our new certificate program provides professionals from an array of industries and backgrounds with a clear understanding of the real estate development process.”</p> <p><strong>Courses</strong></p> <p>To earn a certificate, participants must complete the following&nbsp;courses: <a href="http://web.mit.edu/professional/short-programs/courses/real_estate_finance_fundamentals.html">Real Estate Finance: Fundamentals</a>; <a href="http://web.mit.edu/professional/short-programs/courses/evaluating_real_estate_markets.html">Evaluating Real Estate Markets</a>; <a href="http://web.mit.edu/professional/short-programs/courses/real_estate_finance_advanced.html">Real Estate Finance: Advanced;</a> and <a href="http://web.mit.edu/professional/short-programs/courses/commercial_real_estate_development.html">Commercial Real Estate Development</a>. <a href="http://web.mit.edu/professional/short-programs/courses/global_real_estate_markets.html">Global Real Estate Markets</a>, a new course added to the portfolio of programs this year, must also be successfully completed.</p> <p>Participants enrolled in these Short Programs courses will learn to identify and evaluate economically viable commercial real estate projects, evaluate investment properties, and learn finance theory and taxation principles. Participants will take away a greater understanding of the globalization of real estate capital and its impact on pricing, international capital inflows, and how to build a global portfolio. Real estate attorneys and guest lecturers will provide real-world examples via two common contracts used in the development process.</p> <p>Evaluating Real Estate Markets<em> </em>participant Jennifer Corcoran, a marketing associate at Corcoran Jennison Companies, says, “Being new to the real estate development industry, I found this course to be extremely useful in gaining an understanding of current market trends.”</p> <p>After attending the Commercial Real Estate Development<em> </em>course, Jim Fitzgerald, owner of RE/MAX Commercial&nbsp;of Boston, says, “This course was excellent, and Tod is an incredible talent with commanding knowledge of real estate development. You are not bored for one minute in three action-packed days. The guest speakers are some of the best minds in the industry.”</p> <p><strong>Faculty</strong></p> <p>All five courses are taught by MIT faculty who are experts in their respective fields. <a href="https://mitcre.mit.edu/about/faculty/tod-mcgrathhttps:/mitcre.mit.edu/about/faculty/tod-mcgrath">W. Tod McGrath</a> is a lecturer in the Center for Real Estate and is president of advisoRE, LLC. <a href="https://mitcre.mit.edu/about/faculty/william-c-wheaton">William Wheaton</a> is professor emeritus from MIT’s Department of Economics and continues to teach at CRE. <a href="https://mitcre.mit.edu/about/faculty/albert-saiz">Professor Albert Saiz</a> is director of CRE and also an associate professor of urban economics and real estate.</p> <p><a href="http://mitcre.mit.edu/about/faculty/david-geltner">David Geltner</a> is currently is professor of real estate finance in the Department of Urban Studies and&nbsp;Planning and has a joint appointment in Engineering Systems Division. <a href="http://mitcre.mit.edu/about/faculty/walter-torous">Walter Torous</a> is a senior lecturer holding an appointment with both the CRE’s <a href="http://mitcre.mit.edu/masters-program/about-the-program">Master of Science in Real Estate Development</a> (MSRED) Program and the MIT Sloan School of Management.</p> <p>After completing the Real Estate Finance: Advanced course, Senior Asset Management Officer&nbsp;Scott Backman, of the Massachusetts Housing Investment Corporation, says, “The teaching forum was highly collaborative. Professor Geltner and Dr. Torous were all exceptional in sharing their expertise on the subject matter.”</p> <p><strong>How to enroll</strong></p> <p>Enrollment for the certificate programs is open until May 1&nbsp;through the <a href="http://web.mit.edu/professional/short-programs/courses_topic.html#realestate">MIT Professional Education website</a>.</p> <p>Courses may be taken individually or over a two-week timeframe in the summer. However, to qualify for the certificate, participants must complete all five required courses within a two-year period. Professionals enrolling in the entire certificate program in a single year will receive a 15 percent discount. MIT Professional Education’s fee for all five courses is $12,000; by enrolling in the entire certificate program in a single year, participants will pay $10,200&nbsp;— a savings of $1,800.</p> <p>For more information and to register for the new Certificate Program in Real Estate Finance and Development, please visit the <a href="http://web.mit.edu/professional/short-programs/courses/certificate_program_real_estate.html">program website</a>.</p> Albert SaizMIT Professional Education, Center for Real Estate, Education, teaching, academics, Real estate, Finance, Classes and programs, Urban planning, School of Architecture + Planning, Sloan School of Management $118M gift from MIT alumnus will advance socially responsible and sustainable real estate development http://news.mit.edu/2015/samuel-tak-lee-gift-real-estate-entrepreneurship-lab-0108 Samuel Tak Lee MIT Real Estate Entrepreneurship Lab to include focus on China. Thu, 08 Jan 2015 02:00:07 -0500 Resource Development http://news.mit.edu/2015/samuel-tak-lee-gift-real-estate-entrepreneurship-lab-0108 <p>MIT has received one of the largest gifts in its history, from alumnus Samuel Tak Lee ’62, SM ’64, to establish a real estate entrepreneurship lab that will promote social responsibility among entrepreneurs and academics in the real estate profession worldwide, with a particular focus on China. The gift will fund fellowships to attract both U.S. and international students; will support research on sustainable real estate development and global urbanization; and will make the lab’s curriculum available online to learners worldwide via <em>MITx</em>.</p> <p>The $118 million gift was formalized yesterday at a signing ceremony at MIT, attended by Lee; his son, Samathur Li; MIT President L. Rafael Reif; Executive Vice President and Treasurer Israel Ruiz; Chancellor for Academic Advancement Eric Grimson; and Vice President for Resource Development Julie Lucas. In recognition of Lee’s substantial and ongoing commitment to the Institute, Building 9, home to the MIT Center for Real Estate, will be named the Samuel Tak Lee Building.</p> <p>“With this gift, Sam Lee aims to tap the transformative power of real estate to shape the built environment, and thereby to shape society and culture, to enrich our shared civic life, to increase our harmony with nature — in short, to make a significant positive impact on the world,” Reif says. “As MIT strives to work for the betterment of humankind, Sam’s generosity dramatically increases our capacity to create and inspire far-reaching positive change. We are deeply grateful for the vision and partnership of the Lee family, and for the trust they have placed in MIT.”</p> <p>Lee says his gift was motivated by a desire to design a program with MIT that tightly ties the study of real estate to 21st-century realities such as land reform, environmental challenges, burgeoning populations, and an evolving global economy.</p> <p>“This is a period of tremendous change and opportunity for entrepreneurs in China and around the world,” Lee says. “By cultivating a long-term perspective, real estate professionals can create even greater value for themselves and for society based on responsible, sustainable strategies. I am eager to connect ambitious, talented students with the skills and knowledge that will help them succeed.”</p> <p>The new Samuel Tak Lee MIT Real Estate Entrepreneurship Lab will be housed in MIT’s Department of Urban Studies and Planning (DUSP) and the Center for Real Estate (CRE). The CRE investigates the real estate transaction from initial concept to market reality through a cross-disciplinary lens, including design, urban planning, environmental studies, construction, management, economics, finance, policy and regulation, and the law. MIT is a pioneer in the study of real estate, becoming the first university to offer a Master of Science degree in real estate development in 1983.</p> <p>“Real estate is inherently interdisciplinary, and so is the culture of MIT,” Grimson says. “Whether turning its attention to the role of real estate in fostering prosperity, the design of cities, or the consumption of energy, this new lab will be strengthened by interactions with departments and programs across MIT.”</p> <p>The lab’s professors and students, Grimson says, will seek partners within the School of Architecture and Planning — such as the Center for Advanced Urbanism, the Media Lab, and the Building Technology Program — as well as from the MIT Sloan School of Management, and from such MIT departments as civil and environmental engineering, materials science and engineering, economics, anthropology, and others that share an interest in responsible real estate development.</p> <p>While preliminary work with respect to the Samuel Tak Lee MIT Real Estate Entrepreneurship Lab will begin immediately, formal program activities will commence in the 2015-16 academic year under the leadership of an endowed faculty chair and an administrative director, still to be announced. The gift will also establish a “Think Tank” and a research fund to ensure MIT’s continued commitment to research and thought leadership in sustainable and socially responsible real estate development and global urbanization. Some of the topics and projects that the lab will focus on include: development and urbanization through private action and entrepreneurship; urban resilience and adaptation; land-use reform regulations and codes; new construction materials; data and technology; affordable housing; and environmental aspects of urban growth and development.</p> <p>According to Albert Saiz, the director of the MIT Center for Real Estate, the lab will explore questions of social responsibility — ranging from the individual’s obligations to society to the impact of the built environment on the natural environment — that are essential to how CRE prepares its students to operate in a complex global market.</p> <p>“We want our graduates to become catalysts for profitable development around the world,” says Saiz, who is the Daniel Rose Associate Professor of Urban Economics and Real Estate. “At the same time, we believe the real estate profession must develop nuanced solutions to global concerns such as environmental change, population growth, and transforming economies.”</p> <p>The Samuel Tak Lee MIT Real Estate Entrepreneurship Lab will attract top research talent from around MIT and beyond, Saiz notes. “The lab’s graduate students, visiting scholars, and practitioners will also become a leading global community for the development of successful models of sustainable real estate,” he says. “And the lab’s educational program will inspire a new generation of socially conscious and knowledgeable citizens and entrepreneurs.”</p> <p>Accordingly, the lab will emphasize both the practical — for example, developing new case studies, the major component of a CRE and DUSP education — and the global, focusing on the rapidly changing real estate practice in China.</p> <p>“Deepening our understanding of development in China through the Samuel Tak Lee MIT Real Estate Entrepreneurship Lab has the potential to inform our broader outlook on urbanization, city planning, and design,” says Eran Ben-Joseph, professor and head of MIT’s Department of Urban Studies and Planning. Ben-Joseph says that DUSP’s extensive history in China — such as the Beijing Urban Design Studio, a summer exchange between MIT and Tsinghua University that dates back to 1984 — will give the lab a running start.</p> <p>“The issues that create complexity in Chinese real estate, such as migration, land ownership, and environmental impacts, make it a fertile area for research and practice,” Ben-Joseph says. “Lessons learned from China can serve as models worldwide.”</p> <p>The gift will provide fellowships to attract graduate students of diverse geographic, social, and economic origins to study real estate entrepreneurship on MIT’s campus, with an emphasis on students from China. And <em>MITx</em> will share the lab’s curriculum with a global audience by translating its content to massive open online courses.</p> <p>“Throughout China — and all over the world — there are talented young people with a strong capacity to take individual initiative,” Lee says. “My hope is that by offering them MIT-level tools and perspectives, the lab will empower students from all backgrounds to take their place among the next generation of global real estate entrepreneurs.”</p> <p>Lee received two degrees from MIT: a bachelor’s degree in 1962 and a master’s degree in 1964, both in civil and environmental engineering. After graduating from MIT, he joined Prudential Enterprise, a Hong Kong–based real estate company founded by his father and a cousin. Under Lee’s leadership in the following decades, Prudential has grown into a multinational firm with significant holdings in Hong Kong, England, Japan, Switzerland, and Singapore. Lee is widely known for his 1994 acquisition and development of the Langham Estate in London’s West End, approximately 14 acres of commercial space that is now a major business and shopping destination.</p> Samuel Tak Lee '62, SM '64 (standing, left) and MIT President L. Rafael Reif look on as Lee's son, Samathur Li, and MIT Executive Vice President and Treasurer Israel Ruiz sign documents related to Lee's $118 million gift to MIT.Bryce VickmarkReal estate, Giving, School of Architecture + Planning, Urban studies and planning, Administration, Alumni/ae, Facilities, Global, Massive open online courses (MOOCs), President L. Rafael Reif, MITx, online learning, Sustainability, China, STL Lab At the intersection of real estate and urban economics http://news.mit.edu/2014/intersection-real-estate-and-urban-economics-albert-saiz-1021 Albert Saiz leads research efforts looking at what&#039;s really going on in real estate and urban housing markets. Tue, 21 Oct 2014 11:53:01 -0400 Alice McCarthy | MIT Industrial Liaison Program http://news.mit.edu/2014/intersection-real-estate-and-urban-economics-albert-saiz-1021 <p>Albert Saiz uses big data to understand real estate dynamics. As a professor in the Department of Urban Studies and Planning and director of MIT’s Center for Real Estate, his work is at the confluence of urban policy and city-making and the factors that drive real estate markets. An urban economist and director of the MIT Urban Economics Lab, Saiz studies the industrial composition of cities with an eye toward understanding what makes cities successful. He also creates and studies incredibly-detailed information about housing markets and how urban growth impacts real estate markets.</p> <p><strong>Immigration explains half of city growth</strong><br /> <br /> Saiz’s focus is primarily on housing markets, with a particular view on understanding the demographic influences impacting their growth. “Immigration explains 50 percent of the differences in growth between metropolitan areas in the United States,” he says. “If you want to understand real estate markets or housing markets, construction values, etc., you have to understand immigration and immigration trends.”</p> <p>He also studies several other key drivers of city growth and demand for housing and real estate assets. These include areas of low taxation, high levels of an educated population, and more lifestyle-oriented influences. “As recently as 20 years ago, we tended to believe that people followed jobs,” Saiz explains. “It is still the case that productive areas are becoming more attractive for housing demand, but it is also true that jobs are following people. And people are moving more for lifestyle and amenities.” Today, Saiz’s students are more likely to indicate they want to work in a particular city than for a particular company. That means firms that want to attract young professionals have to locate in these more highly desirable areas.</p> <p>Saiz studies how all of these influences interact and influence housing supply. How does the local production of real estate assets, specifically housing, react to demand shocks? To answer that key question, Saiz has identified two main factors: land values (including the complexity of the zoning and development approval process) and construction costs. After performing a survey of all metro areas in the United States, Saiz and colleagues were able to identify very specific areas that were more amenable to development and those that are not. Where development could be accomplished easily, i.e. in areas with accessible, buildable land and less restrictive zoning/approval requirements, the result was more housing and real estate construction without an upward push on housing values. In attractive areas with relatively inelastic housing supply, such as Boston, New York, and San Francisco, housing demand pushes housing prices and construction costs upward.</p> <p><strong>Center for Real Estate</strong><br /> <br /> Since 1983, the Center for Real Estate (CRE) has partnered with companies and organizations in all areas of the global real estate industry. “The CRE is in the business of applying intelligence to real estate products,” Saiz explains. “Our research goes anywhere from land use policy, land taxation, understanding housing markets and urban growth, to finance, mortgages, securitization in the real estate sector, and global investments in real estate and global finance.” Today, the CRE includes nearly two dozen industry partners and friends. “Our industry partners are quite sophisticated, entrepreneurial firms that want to be engaged at a highly intelligent level in understanding real estate markets,” says Saiz. “They are committed to using IT and data to forecast and make intelligent, well-founded decisions where they can gain some competitive advantage by using these methods.”</p> <p><strong>Big data for big decisions</strong><br /> <br /> The big data revolution is already changing parts of the real estate industry, including the mortgage industry and the marketing of homes and real estate. But Saiz believes things are still a bit “in process” when it comes to fully using big data approaches to better understand investment, volatility and taking a portfolio strategy. As recently as 20 years ago, real estate profits were to be made without having so much information. “We’ve reached a point of maturity in both capital markets and real estate markets where small advantages can make a real difference for successful players to be more successful,” Saiz explains. That is where MIT and CRE play a key role. “We bring the data driven approach, the analytical approach that we marry with our engineering and entrepreneurial spirit and apply to tangential problems our industry partners are interested in.”</p> <p>One of Saiz’s particular strengths is the measurement of market features that are typically difficult to quantify. “I have come up with indexes to measure local regulations, zoning regulations, land availability, the quality of land, access to transport, etc. so that at this point we have huge data sets for most census blocks in the United States,” he says. He and his team are very skilled at using big data to forecast variables critical for real estate developers, investors, portfolio investors, and investors in mortgage markets.</p> <p><strong>Industry partners</strong><br /> <br /> “At the CRE, we typically deal with enlightened entrepreneurs who understand we are in a very competitive world now,” says Saiz. Most partners look to the CRE because they are producing lots of data and want to understand it better — or they want help producing it. Other partners engage on more strategic levels to understand the big trends in markets and to strategize for ways to minimize the risks they are facing.</p> <p>Some CRE partners lean more heavily on the educational aspect of the relationship. They take executive developmental classes, partner in research projects with the Center’s Master of Science in Real Estate Development students, or join the CRE network to gain access to more than 900 global CRE alumni. “Of course, our partnerships are a symmetrical two-way street and we really benefit from the partners,” adds Saiz. “It is in the DNA at MIT that we engage the industry and the world. Our duty as professors is to take knowledge from the world and bring it back. In that way, our partners give us the knowledge and we in turn give it back to them and the broader world.”</p> Albert SaizReal estate, Urban studies and planning, Economics, Faculty, Profile, Housing, Center for Real Estate, Immigration, Jobs Finding the value of virtual real estate http://news.mit.edu/2013/the-value-of-virtual-real-estate Exploring the Economics of Internet Domain Names Tue, 10 Dec 2013 05:00:01 -0500 Scott Campbell | School of Architecture + Planning http://news.mit.edu/2013/the-value-of-virtual-real-estate <!--[if gte mso 9]><xml> <o:DocumentProperties> <o:Revision>0</o:Revision> <o:TotalTime>0</o:TotalTime> <o:Pages>1</o:Pages> <o:Words>142</o:Words> <o:Characters>815</o:Characters> <o:Company>MIT School of Architecture and Planning</o:Company> <o:Lines>6</o:Lines> <o:Paragraphs>1</o:Paragraphs> <o:CharactersWithSpaces>956</o:CharactersWithSpaces> <o:Version>14.0</o:Version> </o:DocumentProperties> <o:OfficeDocumentSettings> <o:AllowPNG /> 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mso-style-priority:99; mso-style-parent:""; mso-padding-alt:0in 5.4pt 0in 5.4pt; mso-para-margin:0in; mso-para-margin-bottom:.0001pt; mso-pagination:widow-orphan; font-size:12.0pt; font-family:Arial; mso-bidi-font-family:"Times New Roman"; mso-bidi-theme-font:major-bidi;} --> <!--[endif] --> <!--StartFragment--> <!--EndFragment--></p> <p class="MsoNormal">In anticipation of this massive explosion of supply — unparalleled in both virtual and traditional space — Thies Lindenthal, a postdoc fellow from the Netherlands’ Maastricht University, is developing ways to assess the potential value of that new real estate.</p> <p class="MsoNormal"><a href="http://sap.mit.edu/resources/portfolio/virtual_econ/">Read more</a>.</p> <!--EndFragment-->To begin assessing the market for the impending flood of new domain names, MIT postdoc Thies Lindenthal analyzed the records of about 250,000 sales of existing domains over the past eight years. Image: Wing Ngan/Center for Real EstateArchitecture, Internet, Real estate, Urban studies and planning