In the contemporary global economy, architecture, landscape architecture, and urban planning and design must confront the complex mechanisms of finance and economics. Real Estate and the Built Environment engages both by considering design and investment as integrally connected.

Mirroring the experience many graduates encounter in practice, this Master in Design Studies concentration area places design within the crucible of finance, examining the ways each can add value to the other. “We always emphasize the importance of design in real estate development, exploring how form can have an impact on investment and value,” says Area Head Bing Wang. As part of a design discourse, financial analyses—feasibility studies, economic models, and investment strategies—acquire added social, cultural and aesthetic dimensions. The trans-disciplinary program positions real estate development as a collaborative process, allowing students to enroll in courses from across the GSD as well as throughout the university—including Harvard Business School, Kennedy School of Government and Harvard Law School.

Area Head

Matthew Kiefer, Lecturer in Urban Planning and Design
Richard Peiser, Michael D. Spear Professor of Real Estate Development

Affiliated Faculty

Frank Apeseche, Lecturer in Architecture & Urban Planning and Design
Jerold Kayden, Frank Backus Williams Professor of Urban Planning and Design
Alex Krieger, Professor in Practice of Urban Design
Ali Malkawi, Professor of Architectural Technology and Founding Director of the Harvard Center for Green Buildings and Cities
Peter Rowe, Raymond Garbe Professor of Architecture and Urban Design and Harvard University Distinguished Service Professor
Holly Samuelson, Assistant Professor of Architecture

Areas of Concentration

Within Real Estate and the Built Environment there are four sub-areas of concentration:

Design and Innovation in Real Estate

This sub-concentration prepares graduate students for careers in real estate and urban development, both in the private and public sectors. It emphasizes conceptual and analytical skills, decision-making, understanding of the development processes, as well as sensitivity to political and environmental issues relating to urbanism and city making. Graduates pursue careers in development, with relation to all product types of vital urbanism: land, housing, office, retail, industrial, hotel, and mixed-use.

Real Estate Finance and Investment

This sub-concentration prepares graduates for careers in real estate investment and finance. It combines analytical skills in investment and finance with an understanding of those forces that affect sustainable values in real estate development and investment in the urban context, including legal, regulatory, political, and the capital markets. Graduates typically enter careers in fund management, mortgage finance, investment banking, REITs, hedge funds, and private equity.

Leadership and Entrepreneurship

This area prepares graduates for leadership positions in the building and infrastructure industries, within design, development, construction, project management, and consulting enterprises. Business issues related to integrating and managing the design and innovation process with project and product delivery are combined with strategic, operational, and financial skill-building.

City Making and Urban Economics

This sub-concentration addresses the needs and challenges faced by real estate and design professionals while implementing environmentally sustainable development practices. It focuses on “green” design and the applications of sustainable technologies at various scales. It ranges from urban communities, landscape design and individual buildings to understanding the consequential economic and value creation implications thereof. The curriculum is enriched with courses offered by faculty members who specialize in development, sustainable design, capital markets, and building technology.

Please visit the Real Estate and the Built Environment website.

The Real Estate and Built Environment track of the MDes program will be given a new home in the Department of Urban Planning and Design. Application to the Real Estate track is suspended for the current application cycle while we finalize that transformation.