Student Real Estate Event Recap: 2016 Real Estate Weekend @ Harvard

Harvard Business School. Saturday-Sunday, April  9-10, 2016 at 9:00am.




Recap of the 2016 Real Estate Weekend at Harvard

2016 Real Estate Weekend at Harvard jointly organized by students from both business and design schools, highlighting interdisciplinary and collaborative nature of profession

For the first time ever, the Real Estate Weekend (formerly known as the Real Estate Summit) was officially jointly presented by the real estate clubs of both Harvard Business School (HBS) and the Harvard Graduate School of Design (GSD). The interdisciplinary collaboration amongst the organizers and events’ programming mirror the diverse nature of the profession.

The 2016 Real Estate Weekend, themed “Re:Think,” drew almost 400 speakers, workshop judges and coaches, and attendees from countless universities, 20 U.S. states, and 9 countries. Attendees represented every side of the multi-faceted business: development, finance, architecture, law, economics, politics, entrepreneurship, urban planning, start-ups and technology, and more.

In addition to a more expansive and diverse attendee turnout, the collaborative and interdisciplinary nature of the event was directly responsible for the creation of new programming. One of two workshops offered, the Development Workshop was a brand new offering and had a waitlist of over 100 applicants. The other workshop, a licensed Argus training session, sold out at 100 participants at an equally fast rate.

The Development Workshop was a one-day design charrette pairing a team of students with a Coach to present an inspired yet realistic development proposal for the federal government’s “Volpe Site” in Cambridge to a panel of judges. The Workshop began early in the morning with a site tour, followed by four hours to design and prepare a presentation. Each group’s presentation included programming diagrams, simple renderings and site plans, financial models, and a business plan.

Each team was specially curated to ensure a diverse mix of backgrounds in architecture, urban design, finance, marketing, and others. Coaches were young professionals working in development, recruited from organizations such as Hines, Extell, Artemis Real Estate Partners, DDR Corporation, and Samuels & Associates. The judges included Alex Krieger, Principal at NBBJ and professor at the GSD; Dr. Bing Wang, professor at the GSD; Katheryn Brown, Vice President at Forest City Realty Trust; and Richard Askin, Director of Planning and Design at W/S Development Associates.

Despite the overwhelming popularity of the workshops, the invited keynote and panel speakers and discussion topics remained the primary reason for attendance. Panels were diverse in their topics: megaprojects, US credit investing trends, innovation districts, and opportunities in emerging markets. Each panel was moderated by a real estate professor from either HBS or GSD with four to five panelists. Though most panelists hailed from New York or Boston, some flew in from San Francisco and Los Angeles.

The full program and speaker list can be viewed online (link to:

Standing in the packed ballroom during Dan Gilbert’s ‘fireside chat’ over lunch with Professor Nori Leitz, one attendee travelled all the way from Washington DC to hear Mr. Gilbert speak about the revitalization of Detroit. With the fast-paced and engaging delivery of a 1920s radio host, closing keynote speaker Edward Glaeser received a standing ovation. Inside the candy-colored conference programs, a quote from Mr. Glaeser, reads:

“The city is humanity’s laboratory,
where people flock to dream,
create, build and rebuild.”

Just like the city, the real estate industry is where professionals from all backgrounds flock to dream, create, build and rebuild.

2016 Real Estate Weekend at Harvard Credits

The 2016 Real Estate Weekend at Harvard was made possible by the following sponsors:

  • Diamond Sponsor: Harvard University Graduate School of Design

  • 2015 & 2016 Platinum Sponsor: Inland Real Estate Investment Corporation

  • Platinum Sponsors: Blackstone, Greystar

  • Gold Sponsors: Related, HFF

  • Silver Sponsors: Canyon Partners Real Estate LLC, Red Capital Group, NAIOP Commercial Real Estate Development Association of Massachusetts

The 2016 Real Estate Weekend was co-presented by the Real Estate & Development Club of Harvard Graduate School of Design and the Real Estate Club of the Harvard Business School, with special assistance from the Hospitality & Travel Club of Harvard Business School, Entrepreneurship & Real Estate Association of Harvard Extension School, and the LatAm Club of Harvard Business School.

Thank you to students from Harvard Business School and Harvard Graduate School of Design for co-organizing the event and for Karen Chi Lin for submitting the article.