FIELD STUDIES IN REAL ESTATE, PLANNING & URBAN DESIGN – An Alternative Downtown for Amsterdam; and A Cultural Renaissance for the City of Lee, MA

Course Description:This course is intended to provide students an understanding of the dynamics and complexities of reality that create contemporary urban physical environments. The course emphasizes the integration of design and development aspects of projects that respond to realistic market demand, political, financial and other regulatory constraints. It is designed for real estate professionals, planners, and designers to broaden their understanding of urban issues and problems, as well as to improve the applicability of their skills in either design or financial analysis in the context of real estate developments. The pedagogical objectives of the course are as following:1. to introduce students to the intrinsic linkage between financial soundness and design creativity required in the process of real estate development 2. to introduce students to the framework of capital market mechanisms and the broad range of activities involved in achieving the success of real estate development with special attention to the various roles played by professional service providers 3. to expose students to as many aspects of real estate issues and decision-making challenges, as possible, both from the private developer\’s perspective and the public sector.Students will work in teams of three members undertaking field study projects sponsored by property owners, non-profit organizations and public agencies. Under the guidance of the professors and in cooperation with the sponsor, students will act as professional consultants to the owners/investors of the project. Students will visit the sites in late February or early March. Travel expenses are covered by the sponsors. Each field study project will be tailored to the problems posed by the site. During the semester, investigations include development feasibility studies (market, physical, environmental, and political), site planning, urban design guidelines, financing framework, public/private joint-venture structure and other critical factors affecting the solutions to planning, design and development of the project. The course is one of \”learning through doing.\” The cases are designed to place students in decision-making situations commonly faced by real estate, planning, and design professionals in reality. An in-class lottery will be held during the first class if too many students prefer a particular project. Students must come to the first class or they will lose their lottery preference.Field study projects for Spring 2008 are (1) Amsterdam southern-axis commercial center redevelopment emphasizing \”high-street\” retail and mixed-use development, and (2) post-industrial mill redevelopments for the city of Lee in Massachusetts and a downtown revitalization project emphasizing the Berkshire Mountains arts/culture renaissance for local neighborhoods and residents of NYC and Boston. Project Descriptions: Amsterdam, Netherlands: Sponsored by Redevco, one of the largest shopping center owners/developers in the Netherlands, and assisted by Visiting Scholar and Netherlands-based retail expert, Baptist Braye, the Amsterdam Field Study will focus on redevelopment of Zai-Das – the new commercial center of Amsterdam on the southern axis expressway as a planned alternative downtown for the city. The field study site is approximately six miles from Amsterdam\’s historic core, borders the southern axis freeway and consists of approximately 12 blocks adjacent to the initial development of the alternative downtown. The government is currently planning to place a one-mile section of the southern axis freeway underground at a cost of $3 billion over the next ten years. A consortium of recent developments, designed by major architects including Vinoly, Graves, Pei, Foster, and KPF, are already placed on the neighboring parcels. As th