Real estate has increasingly become a compelling force in the process of city making, one uniquely capable of leading and guiding multiple steps in the construct of vital urbanism: from conceiving an idea to constructing complex structures; from sourcing funding to creating master-planned communities; and from negotiating design forms to implementing urban public realms.
A country like China is at once experiencing rapid urbanization while undergoing an unprecedented transformation in the mechanism of city making: the forces of real estate and the shifting roles played by public and private sectors are constantly challenging conventional city-building models, while defining and redefining their positions in the production of the built environment.
This course, conducted as a research seminar, focuses on the interdependence between real estate and city making. It addresses both theoretical and empirical investigations on the concepts and paradigms that have shaped and are still shaping real estate practices and their impact on contemporary Chinese cities. It analyzes emergent real estate and urban development strategies, their respective financing structures, underlying domain expertise and urban organizational hierarchy.
Thus, the pedagogical approaches of the course are as the following:
1. to familiarize students with many aspects of real estate issues, especially those intersected with physical design and planning methods in the process of city making
2. to introduce students to frameworks in approaching an unfamiliar real estate market
3. to expose students to the linkage between real estate and city-making parameters, using China as a case study
Students will work independently and in teams on selected themes to identify critical forces in real estate development and investment: how key real estate players, domestic or international, have formed their central business strategies, interacted with capital markets, and participated in the city-making process to facilitate and drive the formation of the built environment; and how emergent private sector leaders are integrating human capital, financial capital, and design intelligence, to reshape the form and composition of urban centers within China and beyond. With the investigative research framework set at the beginning of the semester, students will proceed to examine the city-making process through the lens of real estate, design, planning, finance, and land ownership structure, in parallel with readings and class discussions, to anticipate the trajectory of contemporary real estate development and city making. The class meets once a week and is open to students from all programs at the GSD as well as students from other departments within the university.