Real Estate Development and Urban Planning Issues Are the Focus of a New Series of Executive Education Programs from Harvard University Graduate School of Design

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New Harvard Executive Education Programs for real estate developers, urban planners, and architects are scheduled throughout the summer.

This summer, the economics of real estate markets, due diligence for commercial real estate acquisitions, urban housing, and master planning are just a few of the topics to be covered in a new series of executive education programs from Harvard University Graduate School of Design.

Designed specifically for real estate developers, urban planners, architects, and building industry professionals, these programs will enable participants to gain new skills while exploring timely issues and trends affecting their industries.

The programs offered include:

  • Comprehensive Due Diligence for Today’s Commercial Real Estate Acquisitions, July 10-11, Instructor: Kurt R. Padavano, Advance Realty Group, Bedminster, NJ
  • Strategic Facilities Planning: Aligning Real Estate and Facility Assets with Business Goals, July 10-11, Instructor: Robert A. Klein, Horizon LLC, New York, NY
  • Retail Planning Principles for American Cities and New Urban Commercial Centers, July 10-12, Instructors: Robert Gibbs, Gibbs Planning Group, Inc., Birmingham, MI and Terry Shook, Shook Kelly Architects, Charlotte, NC
  • The Financial and Economic Markets of Real Estate, July 13-14, Instructor: Raymond G. Torto, CBRE/Torto Wheaton Research, Boston, MA
  • Master Planning: Creating Communities, July 17-18, Instructors: David Hirzel, Anthony Mallows, and Frederick Merrill, Sasaki Associates Inc., Watertown, MA
  • Owning the Future: Urban Housing and Mixed-Use Development, July 31-Aug. 1, Instructor: Johannes Van Tilburg, Van Tilburg, Banvard & Soderbergh, Santa Monica, CA
  • New Communities: Concepts for Master Planning, August 3-4, Instructors: Dwight DeMay and A. James Tinson, Hart Howerton, Boston and New York
  • Affordable Housing: An Introduction to the Development Process, August 9-10, Instructors: James G. Stockard and Robert Engler, Stockard & Engler & Brigham, Cambridge, MA

Comprehensive Due Diligence for Today’s Commercial Real Estate Acquisitions

A thorough due diligence process is vital to any commercial real estate transaction, as it allows for confirmation of an asset’s value and ensures that both sellers' and buyers' goals can be met within the terms of the constructed agreement. This two-day program will outline typical timeframes for due diligence, both within the purchase cycle and within the life cycle of the asset, and will discuss strategies for building a due diligence team to assure thorough and timely investigation of the asset. Financial, physical, and development due diligence issues and strategies will also be covered enabling participants to gain a comprehensive understanding of the key elements of the process.

Strategic Facilities Planning: Aligning Real Estate and Facility Assets with Business Goals

As companies and institutions increasingly face the challenge of aligning their real estate and facility assets with their business goals, Strategic Facilities Planning, or SFP, has grown as an area of expertise and as a discipline that provides sophisticated tools to support complex decisions. A strategic facilities plan provides a means of visualizing the future that allows an organization to test a future condition that does not yet exist. This program offers insight into SFP and examines how strategic facility planning can be used to assess long-term facility and real estate requirements and to communicate strategic opportunities to senior management.

Retail Planning Principles for American Cities, and New Urban Commercial Centers

Hundreds of new urban and lifestyle centers are being opened across all market segments. However, many of these new centers will be at risk of failing due to critical planning and programming errors. This three-day program focuses on the actual nuts and bolts of market research, site selection, land use, planning, parking, tenant mix, store design, merchandising, and streetscape needed to develop successful urban and suburban town centers.

The Financial and Economic Markets of Real Estate

Real estate professionals, whether in design, public policy, or management, need a clear understanding of the driving forces, the useful signals, and the expected functioning of the real estate markets for space and for capital. This program introduces a framework for understanding these markets and how they affect the building professionals and the fields of expertise in which they work. One part of the program will focus on the economics of residential and commercial markets and the long-term structural trends of today. It will analyze why real estate has historically been a boom-or-bust industry and why this will not be as true in the future. The financial part of the program will cover the basic financial concepts and tools used to evaluate real estate as an investment within the public and private debt and equity real estate markets.

Master Planning: Creating Communities

This team-taught program focuses on the general principles of master planning with a particular emphasis on the revitalization of urban areas, the development of new communities, and the creation of resort and leisure environments. Discussions emphasize the factors that influence planning solutions, including market and socioeconomic factors, regulatory and zoning processes, and political realities, as well as the personal goals and aspirations of key participants in the development process.

Owning the Future: Urban Housing and Mixed-Use Development

This program introduces and explores the contemporary architectural, ecological, and civic issues contained within and surrounding the trend toward combining, in new and creative ways, housing and commercial development to create mixed-use urban and suburban neighborhoods. It also explores the primary issues of housing/commercial mixed-use developments as they relate to senior and special needs housing, urban renewal, and rapid transit and why and how urban decay is affecting older suburban neighborhoods.

New Communities: Concepts for Master Planning

In recent years, new master planning concepts, combined with evolving real estate patterns and priorities, have resulted in compelling new communities such as The Kentlands, Palmetto Bluff, Sea Ranch, and Celebration. As the demand and popularity of planned communities increase, the process of planning and developing these communities has become increasingly complex. That process is the focus of this two-day program, which encourages site planners, developers, architects, and landowners to explore the fundamental elements of community and neighborhood design, proven strategies for successful "place making," regulatory and development factors that shape implementation, and the application of these wide-ranging considerations to actual site conditions.

Affordable Housing: An Introduction to the Development Process

This two-day program offers an introduction to the process of developing housing that serves low- and moderate-income households, beginning with an overview of why a significant portion of the population cannot afford decent housing. The program covers the critical components of the affordable housing development process: market, sites, capital/finance, subsidies, the professional team, and approvals/permits. It concludes with a review of a timeline that considers each of these important development process elements and places them in sequential relationship.

All of Harvard GSD’s executive education programs are registered with the AIA (American Institute of Architects) Continuing Education System and earn AIA/CES units. Complete program and registration information can be found at

About the Office of Executive Education at Harvard University Graduate School of Design:

The Office of Executive Education at Harvard University Graduate School of Design (GSD) is the foremost provider of Executive Education programs for architects, planners, and real estate and building industry professionals. Executive Education offers an extensive menu of open enrollment programs that explore timely design issues and trends; admissions programs that cover topics in real estate; and customized programs that are tailored to an organization’s or firm’s specific needs. Drawing upon the unparalleled resources of Harvard University, Executive Education programs are led by renowned faculty from the GSD, the Business School, the Law School, and the Kennedy School of Government, as well as eminent practitioners and scholars from across the country and around the world. For more information, visit

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Mary Ferrise
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