Entrepreneurship and the Built Environment

How does one transition from a concept and idea into a built reality? How does one initiate a new venture and ensure its success in today’s city? How do you balance financial risk and reward with design and purpose?

This course equips students with a deeper comprehension of the dynamics and complexities involved in the design and creation of new ventures related to the built environment – mostly housing and real estate projects but not limited to them, as real estate is only a subset of the potential ventures dealing with the built environment.

By learning to think like a real estate developer – understanding their interests, incentives, and concerns that drive their decisions – students will enhance their ability to communicate, negotiate, and design projects that ultimately see fruition. Developers and investors often shape urban development decisions. While developers typically select the designer and influence the design, it's not always for the best. As with any venture, different metrics influence the decision of whether a project materializes.

This course will explore various frameworks and methodologies that guide a leader's journey from conception to realization, navigating through physical, market, financial, and stakeholder constraints. We will apply these frameworks to specific housing typologies and place them in different contexts. To understand the creative process of development, we will utilize real case studies of adaptive reuse projects, primarily located in Mexico City.

We will study certain components of a business plan, not as a finalized product but as a continually evolving prototype used for communication, negotiation, and trust-building to secure support to materialize a vision. Students will design and construct simplified economic models to comprehend the risks and rewards associated with a project. They will learn to discuss financial tradeoffs in conjunction with design dilemmas, under the premise that we always operate within the bounds of limited resources and varying constraints.