“Reframing Housing Development: How Changes in Design, Construction, and Regulation Could Reduce the Cost of Housing”


What can be done to reduce the cost of housing, particularly in the United States? To help answer this question, we will bring together a diverse mix of people involved with the design, development, financing, construction, and public oversight of housing for a half-day of presentations, discussions, and networking. The event, which will be open to practitioners, scholars, students and others, will be held on from 1-6:30 pm in Piper Auditorium at the Harvard Graduate School of Design. It will be followed by an informal reception.

Please note, this event is free but requires registration. To register, click here.

1:00-1:15 Welcome

  • Chris Herbert, Managing Director, Harvard Joint Center for Housing Studies; Lecturer in Urban Planning, Harvard Graduate School of Design.

1:15-2:25 Designing More Affordable Housing

  • Andrew Freear, Director of Auburn University’s Rural Studio; current Loeb Fellow who has been developing prototypes for building inexpensive homes in poor rural areas.
  • Brian Phillips, Principal, ISA Architects, a firm based in Philadelphia and Cambridge whose portfolio includes 100K Houses and other efforts to produce small, well-designed, super-green residential units.
  • Michael Thomas, Director of Business Development, Panoramic Interests, a San Francisco Bay Area development firm that is focused on building supportive housing for the homeless, housing for students, seniors, artists, and others.
  • Moderator: Katie Swenson, VP, National Design Initiatives, Enterprise Community Partners, Inc., who directs Enterprise’s Affordable Housing Design Leadership Institute and its Rose Architectural Fellowship program.

2:25-3:35 New Approaches to Construction

  • Randy Miller, CEO, RAD Urban, a design, engineering, construction, and development firm building high-rise, modular residential buildings.
  • James Shen, Loeb Fellow and co-founder of People’s Architecture Office, which developed pre-fabricated structures used to upgrade housing in Beijing’s central historic districts. James has been examining ways to bring this approach to the U.S., particularly as part of efforts to create more Accessory Dwelling Units.
  • Fritz Wolff, Co-founder and board member of Katerra, “a technology company redefining the construction industry.” He also is executive chairman of The Wolff Company, a private equity firm focused on the multifamily sector.
  • Moderator: Frank Anton, Senior Industry Fellow, Harvard Joint Center for Housing Studies, and former CEO of Hanley Wood, a leading source of information for the construction industry.

3:35-3:50 Break and Structured Feedback from Attendees

3:50-5:00 Addressing Regulatory and Political Obstacles

  • Jesse Kanson-Benanav, Chair, A Better Cambridge, a citywide resident group committed to building a more diverse and sustainable city, with housing for all people.
  • Adhi Nagraj, San Francisco director for SPUR; former director of development for Bridge Housing; and chair of the Oakland Planning Commission and its Design Review Committee.
  • Harriet Tregoning, former Loeb Fellow; former Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of HUD’s Office of Community Planning and Development; former Director of Washington DC’s Office of Planning; former Director of the Governors’ Institute on Community Design; and former Maryland Secretary of Planning.
  • Moderator: Shekar Narasimhan, Senior Industry Fellow, Harvard Joint Center for Housing Studies; Managing Partner at Beekman Advisors, which provides strategic advisory services to companies and investors involved in real estate, mortgage finance, affordable housing and related sectors.

5:00-5:30 Putting It All Together: Reflections on the Afternoon

  • Marc Norman, Associate Professor of Practice at the University of Michigan, Taubman School of Architecture and Urban Planning and founder of Ideas and Action, a multidisciplinary consultancy focusing on housing and economic development.
  • Surella Segu, Co-founder of El Cielo Architects in Mexico City and current Loeb Fellow, who was head of the Urban Development Department for Infonavit, which has funded about three-quarters of all housing loans in Mexico.
  • Moderator: Chris Herbert, Managing Director, Harvard Joint Center for Housing Studies; Lecturer in Urban Planning, Harvard Graduate School of Design.

5:30-6:30 Reception and Poster Session Featuring Student Work

Co-presented by the Harvard Joint Center for Housing StudiesThe Loeb Fellowship, and the Office of Communications.

Additional information may be found at http://www.jchs.harvard.edu/event/reducing-cost-housing


Anyone requiring accessibility accommodations should contact the Public Programs Office at (617) 496-2414 or [email protected].