Form+Finance: the Design of Real Estate

This course exposes students to tools, instruments and strategies for design thinking and the mechanisms of finance and market forces that shape and impact built form.  The class bridges the disciplines of real estate finance, development and design by highlighting the ways in which the perspectives intersect, inform and negotiate with one another.  For students with a design background, the imbedded logics of real estate finance and market dynamics will impact their understanding and constructs of physical form.  For students with a background in finance and economics, exposure to the processes by which designers conceptualize design proposals and how to visualize space and understand building typologies at a variety of scales will be reinforced.  An underlying objective of the course is to amplify the synergies between how one spatializes development and how real estate dynamics shape and influence buildings and spaces.

Through in-class lectures, case studies, course readings, group exercises and assignments, participants will learn fundamental principles of real estate dynamics as they relate to various building typologies.  Students will also learn the processes by which developers, investors, architects and urban designers and planners conceptualize various frameworks for real estate development.  The class provides the skills to visualize and communicate concepts about a site and enable the assessment of a project for its development potential and value proposition, understanding the myriad of factors that influence a project’s form and character.  This course operates between design aesthetics and economic viability, demonstrating how design creates value for investors, owners and tenants of real estate and how finance influences the shape of our physical environment.

Various computer programs will be introduced in the course through periodic evening tutorials.  Each program presents a technique to visualize the development and design characteristics of a project and communicate that information in a variety of modes of representation.  While some students will be familiar with design and financial workflows, this class does not presume that they are familiar with them.  More complex considerations in combining financial analysis and form-making will emerge towards the end of the term.

This course in 2016 is for students enrolled in the MDes Real Estate and the Built Environment (REBE) graduate study. A small number of other students may be allowed to enroll by permission of the instructor.