Dear Alumni and Friends,

I am writing to share with you some of our current initiatives and commitments in relation to the study and development of real estate at the GSD. During the past few years, I have had the privilege to meet many individuals and organizations involved in investing in, developing, and constructing important buildings, landscapes, and public spaces around the world. These interactions have made me acutely aware of the significant contributions of our alumni and friends to the advancement of real estate in the context of the built environment. I am hopeful that together we will be able to both enhance and promote innovative ideas, research, and programs that benefit from a deeper understanding of real estate and its contributions to the built environment.

When the GSD launched the Real Estate and the Built Environment concentration, it established itself as the real estate cornerstone at Harvard University. That leadership stands today-the GSD is the only school at Harvard that offers a formal real estate degree program and is the University’s de facto nexus for real estate education and activity. With the recent admission of the next cohort of students into this program, along with the students in the Master in Urban Planning program who choose a real estate concentration, we have a record number of students with a stated focus on real estate education. These numbers are augmented by students in every degree program who also have expressed an interest in the field. Design is powerfully interdisciplinary, and the GSD’s real estate concentrations and executive education programs each foster the multidisciplinary mindset needed to approach the built environment holistically and conscientiously.

In that spirit, we are actively expanding the curricular options available to our real estate students. Our traditionally taught courses in real estate finance, development, and market analysis, as well as field studies courses and occasional studios, are complemented by recent additions like “Environment, Economics, and Enterprise,” co-taught by architecture and real estate faculty, and “Creating Real Estate Ventures: A Legal Perspective.” A new research methods course will be added next year, as well as opportunities for more multidisciplinary teamwork and an optional final project. Working with advisors, students are able to draw from a rich variety of options within the GSD and from other Harvard schools to craft a curriculum in line with their ambitions, with over 50 related courses from which to choose. Our faculty have a history of galvanizing experts from throughout Harvard to collaborate and teach in our degree and executive education programs, continually reinforcing the School’s position as a hub for real estate-focused research and study within the University.

Our orientation must also be global, which keeps our students at the forefront of trends and developments in the field while also inspiring greater sensitivity toward the purpose and context of real estate. Our programs benefit from sponsors from Germany, China, England, India, the Netherlands, and elsewhere, and our Global Leadership in Real Estate and Design course-required for students in the Real Estate and the Built Environment concentration-always involves an international site. Most recently, we have used a new business district in Guangzhou and a mixed-use complex in Berlin as the site of our investigations. In addition to geographic diversity, our research and pedagogy also address significant global challenges, including rapid urbanization, social inequality, affordable housing, climate change and disaster recovery, and support for the growing class of seniors.

As our real estate programs have evolved, the GSD has solidified as a crux of industry engagement that draws leaders and visionaries to Harvard. The GSD convenes the annual Harvard Real Estate Conference, which brings senior leadership from top firms to campus. Throughout the year, the Master in Design Studies Real Estate Lecture Series integrates concepts and practices into our broader discourse. These direct connections to industry enrich our programs with equal parts inspiration and practicality.

Our commitment to research crosses disciplines and is manifested through the individual work of our faculty and through initiatives such as our design labs dealing with urbanism and sustainability, as well as the recently created Office for Urbanization. Recent projects have involved research on healthy cities, new town financing, micro-housing, and the implications of rising sea levels on the economy and ecology of cities.

Amid these ambitions, we have proactively sought ways to champion student groups and initiatives both financially and logistically. Most recently, we provided funding to two student teams entering the Urban Land Institute’s 2016 Hines Student Competition-both of whom were among the competition’s four finalists, and one of whom won the top prize earlier this month. We are currently supporting an in-progress student real estate publication, due out Fall 2016, by hiring a faculty advisor to edit and enhance content, and by providing funds for its production. The School provided financial and logistical support to two cross-University student conferences this spring, most recently Real Estate Weekend @ Harvard, which drew 400 attendees. These activities have all included students from throughout Harvard who have an interest in real estate. Additionally, our staff have been working with faculty on the annual GSD-MIT career events, and are increasing efforts to help students find internship placements. Opportunities like these are vital in enabling our students to engage in broader discourse in the field and generate real impact. Recent graduates are being employed by leading real estate companies and global corporations, while others are spearheading entrepreneurial ventures. They immerse themselves in design, development, real estate management, finance, investments, infrastructure, and more.

As we galvanize our commitment to real estate education at the GSD, we will actively engage our alumni community in the School’s real estate programs and in our students’ professional explorations and development through mentorship and expert advice. Among other initiatives, we are expanding our Expert in Residence program to include a real estate cohort, inviting real estate professionals to come to campus several times per year to advise and mentor students. These activities are ongoing and require the support of alumni and friends such as yourselves.

We appreciate your support, and I invite you to send me your ideas for continuing to advance our real estate programs.





Mohsen Mostafavi

Dean and Alexander and Victoria Wiley Professor of Design

For more information and to learn how you can get involved, please contact:

Director of Alumni Relations and Annual Giving 
[email protected]