On November 3 and 4, 2016, Manduhai Buyandelgar, associate professor in MIT Anthropology and 2016 STL Lab Faculty Seed Fund recipient, participated in a Humboldt Foundation Workshop in Berlin titled Religion and the City: Inter-Religious Exchanges in Urban Environments. More than forty scholars from around the world questioned the largely established idea that religion tends to retreat from public life in urban areas.
Danya Sherman, case study initiative manager for the STL Lab, and her team traveled to south Florida to film an MIT Case Study that explores planning in the face of severe weather impacts resulting from climate change.
As the Samuel Tak Lee MIT Real Estate Entrepreneurship Lab wraps up its second year, we wanted to take a moment to share with you some highlights from our 2015 and 2016 programming.
China’s most successful and well-known real estate developer couple, Pan Shiyi and Zhang Xin, visited MIT for a discussion with STL Lab Director Yu-Hung Hong and prof. Yasheng Huang of Sloan school before an audience of approximately 400 students, faculty, and guests. Shiyi and Xin are the founders of SOHO China, Asia’s largest commercial real estate IPO and largest prime office developer in Beijing and Shanghai. Shiyi and Xin developed SOHO 3Q, a shared office space in China that has grown to 16,000 desks in 17 locations.
On September 1, 2016, Lily Tsai (Associate Professor, MIT) and Xiaobo Lü (Assistant Professor, University of Texas at Austin) presented their experimental study on the attitudes toward property tax compliance in China at the 2016 Annual Meeting of the American Political Science Association (APSA) in Philadelphia, PA. Their research was funded by the 2015 STL Faculty Seed Fund.
On Thursday, November 17, 2016, Jian Liu, associate professor of urban planning and design at Tsinghua University School of Architecture, delivered the latest China Talk Series lecture on whether the challenges facing rural China can be addressed through the field of urban planning. Prof. Liu spoke to an audience of approximately 30 students, faculty, professional practitioners, and guests.
On November 14, 2016, Dr. Yuan Xiao gave a lecture to the MIT DUSP and CRE community about the land quota markets in China. Dr. Xiao is an Urban Development Specialist at the World Bank's Middle East and North African region. She previously worked at Columbia University as an assistant professor in urban planning, and as a postdoctoral research scholar at Columbia Law School. She obtained her PhD in Urban and Regional Planning from MIT in 2014, with an award-winning dissertation on urbanization and land governance in China.
The first National Real Estate Innovation Competition was held by the Higher Education Steering Committee for the Discipline of Real Estate Development and Management and Property Management, co-hosted with the Samuel Tak Lee MIT Real Estate Entrepreneurship Lab (STL Lab), the Real Estate Research Institute of Tsinghua University School of Civil Engineering, and the Housing and Community Research Institute of Tsinghua University School of Architecture. The Competition was sponsored by the STL Lab, and was supported by the Beijing Municipal Institute of City Planning and Design.
1. What was the initial purpose of MIT in establishing this MSRED degree?
Prof. Albert Saiz: Historically, many individuals who work in real estate have acquired their skills on the job. However, as the business of real estate has become more complex in structure and more international in scope, the industry has recognized the need for a more sophisticated and specialized education. Meanwhile, the US real estate industry was experiencing a deepening, from a build-and-sell-quick paradigm to an increased focus on quality and the development of secondary markets: investments, property management, investments management, leasing, secondary transactions, infill re-development, renovations on the existing stock . This shift in the real estate industry also required sophisticated knowledge and education. In 1983 an MIT alum, Charles “Hank” Spaulding established the Center for Real Estate at MIT. Spaulding was a prominent real estate developer himself and he had the vision to improve the quality of the built environment and to promote a more informed professional practice within the global real estate industry. MIT’s one year MSRED program, the first in the country, educates students in the full range of skills required of real estate professionals, from finance, construction, human capital to urban planning, physical design, law, contracts, asset management, micro economics, and so on.
Samuel Tak Lee Graduate Fellow Zixiao Yin plans to serve communities back home in Inner Mongolia.
Growing up in Inner Mongolia, graduate student Zixiao Yin saw firsthand the effects of poor urban planning. As China underwent record growth, a mining boomtown intended for 1 million people rose from the desert in the neighboring district — but when the economy crashed in 2008, blocks and blocks of empty office buildings and houses created a “ghost city” on the steppe.
On October 17, 2016, Prof. Shihe Fu, a Fulbright Scholar in the Center for Real Estate at MIT and professor of Urban and Real Estate Economics at the Southwestern University of Finance and Economics in China, gave a lecture as part of the fall 2016 China Talk Series. He spoke about the benefits rural migrants gain from agglomeration economies in China.
This article originally appeared on Prof. Susskind's blog, September 13, 2016. Used with permission from author.
I am trying to build a MOOC (an open course on line) that will help anyone engaged in real estate development, or any aspect of city redevelopment, think hard about their social responsibilities. To date, most discussion of social responsibility focuses on what is called Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR). That is, what do corporations need to do to meet their social responsibilities? CSR is basically a form of “corporate self-regulation” or “active compliance” with the “spirit of the law,” “ethical standards” and “national or international norms”. By now, after several decades of discussion (and some serious scholarship), CSR advocates are prepared to make the case that corporate actors will have an easier time attracting the workers they want, enhancing their reputations and differentiating their brand, reducing regulatory scrutiny and improving relationships with their suppliers if they take environmental sustainability seriously, get involved in the communities where they operate (often through charitable giving) and avoid false advertising (and engage is what is known as ethical marketing). So, if corporations do “the right thing,” engage in corporate philanthropy and behave ethically they can count themselves as socially-responsible.
On October 11, 2016, Sarah Williams, assistant professor of MIT DUSP and director of the Civic Data Design Lab, led a small team of researchers on a visit to Department of Architecture in Northeastern University in Shenyang, China. The department is one of the oldest architectural schools in China, founded by Liang Sicheng, the most influential architectural and urban historian in modern China.
The research team for the project “Ghost Cities: Beyond the Image”—Prof. Sarah Williams (PI), Wenfei Xu (project manager), and Zhekun Xiong (MCP candidate)—conducted a four-city, nine-day field study and research trip to China funded by the Samuel Tak Lee Faculty Research Seed Fund. During the trip, the team went on site visits and interviewed key academics, planners, and real estate developers in Beijing, Tianjin, Shenyang, and Shanghai.
On September 19, 2016, Brent Ryan, associate professor and head of the City Design and Development Group at MIT DUSP, recently led a small team of faculty on a visit to the School of Architecture at Beijing’s Tsinghua University. They were welcomed by the school’s Associate Dean Jian Liu and other researchers from the university.
On September 26, 2016, Prof. Anthony Yeh of the University of Hong Kong delivered the second lecture in the fall 2016 China Talk Series, in which he highlighted the evolution of China’s urbanization process. Prof. Yeh visited the STL Lab and delivered his talk to an audience of roughly 30 students, faculty, staff, and guests.
Developing the Littoral Gradient research team Fadi Masoud (PI), Brent Ryan (PI), and Colleen Xi Qiu (PhD Candidate) conducted a 4-city, 8-day field study and research trip to China funded by the Sam Tak Lee Faculty Seed Fund. While on the trip, the team met with key research affiliates, academics, planners, and developers in Beijing, Tianjin, Shenzhen, and Hong Kong.
Last May, the STL Lab’s Case Study Initiative released its inaugural Request for Proposals to solicit our first round of MIT Case Studies. We received 11 applications, and are proud to announce that the following six applications were approved. The research teams will work with the STL Lab’s creative production team over the course of the next year to collaboratively develop unique multimedia, immersive, and thought-provoking learning experiences. Stay tuned for updates regarding the further development of the Case Study Initiative.
On September 23, 2016, Professor Fulong Wu of University College London delivered the first lecture in the fall 2016 China Talk Series, in which he highlighted unique aspects, challenges, and implications of urban growth in China. Prof. Wu visited the STL Lab from the Bartlett School of Planning, where he is the Bartlett Professor of Planning. He delivered his talk Understanding Chinese Cities and Their Implication for Urban Theory to an audience of roughly 30 students, faculty, staff, and guests.
On Monday, September 12, 2016, MIT alumnus Sameul Tak Lee visited the recently reopened Samuel Tak Lee Building 9 (STL9) to see the renovated facility and meet with fellows, staff and faculty of the Samuel Tak Lee MIT Real Estate Entrepreneurship Lab.
The Samuel Tak Lee MIT Real Estate Entrepreneurship Lab (STL Lab) kicked off the semester with an open house on Tuesday, September 20. Hosted in the new Innovation Hub in the Samual Tak Lee Building (Building 9), the open house welcomed students, faculty, and staff from across the school to learn about the array of activities the Lab is organizing this year.
In the summer of 2017, a group of selected MIT student fellows will form a teaching team to run a series of Summer Workshops for Chinese university students and youth. Hosted by Chongqing University and Qingdao University of Science and Technology (QUST), the main objective of the workshops is to engage MIT and Chinese students on topics of socially responsible real estate entrepreneurship and urban development. Furthermore, a variety of innovative teaching tools developed by the STL Lab (e.g. online courses, games, and case studies) will be utilized during the workshop to experiment with blended learning, a non-traditional pedagogical strategy. Fellows will also make connections with local developers, planners, scholars, entrepreneurs and study local real estate cases. Each university workshop will run for two weeks. In Qingdao, the STL Lab will pilot a one-week workshop for high school students.
On September 8, 2016, the incoming class of 2016-2017 STL MIT Real Estate Entrepreneurship Lab graduate fellows introduced their background and interests, and were formally oriented to the Lab’s work and immediate goals. The graduate fellows were joined by members of the executive and advisory staff who touched on the Lab’s ongoing programs including recent work on creating real estate games, the success of last year’s China Summer Camp, the continuing China Talk Series, and the development of MIT Case Studies.
Southwestern University of Finance and Economics (SWUFE) in Chengdu, China, hosted the fifth International Workshop on Regional, Urban, and Spatial Economics in China in summer 2016. It featured more than 50 papers and keynote speeches, including SWUFE’s own Li Gan on the mystery of vacant houses in China, University of Houston’s Janet Kohlhase on how big cities respond to suburban fiscal policies, Erasmus University Rotterdam’s Frank van Oort, and Asian Development Bank Institute’s Naoyuki Yoshino.
MIT’s Samuel Tak Lee MIT Real Estate Entrepreneurship Lab uses gaming to advance its mission in China.
In China, city development through effective planning and real estate investment is serious business, but learning about it can be fun and games. Thanks to a new approach developed at MIT, a game based on socially responsible real estate practices was tested in China this summer.
This summer, the STL Lab launched the pilot program of the STL-MISTI China Summer Camp initiative. From June to August 2016, two MIT student teaching teams visited universities in Hohhot, Shanghai, Qingdao, Xiamen, Chongqing, and Hong Kong, for two weeks each at a time. These unique summer camps pooled the knowledge of MIT and Chinese partner universities, ultimately cultivating a dynamic learning environment that maximized and celebrated the strengths of students from diverse backgrounds, while honing their socially responsible planning and entrepreneurship skills. Campers engaged in a cross-cultural educational exchange about social responsibility, urban planning, real estate, and entrepreneurship, with an emphasis on contextually relevant, real-world practices.
On June 22, 2016, Dr. Yu-Hung Hong, Director of the STL Lab and Lecturer in the Department of Urban Studies and Planning at MIT, visited the School of Urban Planning and Design in Peking University. He gave a lecture to Nanyan students and scholars, entitled "Reinventing Land Readjustment: Implications for Urban Development, Planning and Regeneration." The lecture was hosted by Professor Changchun Feng.
World Bank Interviewed Dr. Hong on the concept and implementation of "Land Readjustment". STL Lab will produce our first MOOC on this subject.
The Sino-U.S. Symposium on Low Carbon Community was held on June 17, 2016, as part of the Fourth Shenzhen International Low Carbon City Forum. Experts from MIT and China (from the government, business, and academic sectors) discussed diverse views and shared their experiences on China's low carbon community creation and development.
The Samuel Tak Lee MIT Real Estate Entrepreneurship Lab (STL Lab), in conjunction with the Center for Real Estate (CRE) and the Department of Urban Studies and Planning (DUSP), has announced its second round of faculty research grants, awarding $1.1 million to nine MIT researchers and their teams.
In collaboration with the World Bank and Open Learning Campus, the STL Lab is producing a MOOC on innovative land development methods and urban regeneration. In May 2016, the World Bank and the STL Lab conducted field visits to Guangdong, China to examine a creative approach called “land re-utilization” (or commonly referred to as land readjustment around the world).
On Wednesday, May 18, 2016, the Samuel Tak Lee Real Estate Entrepreneurship Lab (STL Lab) Faculty Seed Fund interim reporting seminar was hosted in the Stella Room at MIT. This two-hour meeting brought together 12 researchers and their teams to present the projects they have been diligently working on for the last year, since the first year of grants were announced in September 2015. Mr. Phil Hardie and Mr. Ron Gray, members of the STL Lab’s Advisory Board, were also in attendance.
Each Principle Investigator (PI) had six minutes to present their research methodology and findings, followed by three minutes of question and answer with other attendees. Although one-year projects are nearing their final stages, others are only halfway through the two-year funding cycle. Overall, it was a very successful meeting and a celebration of researcher’s accomplishments. Further, it provided an opportunity to build the STL Lab’s interdisciplinary academic community, engage with future collaborators, and build knowledge about social responsibility in real estate, planning, and development.
In April 2016, Sara Verrilli and Rik Eberhardt (MIT Game Lab staff) visited China to test our game with undergraduate students who are studying urban planning, architecture, real estate development, and landscape architecture at Inner Mongolia University of Technology and Tsinghua University. The purpose is to get a sense of the scale of real estate development currently in progress in these cities.
On May 4, 2016, Dr. Max Woodworth gave a lecture entitled “Ghost Cities: the Role of Citizens and the Government.” Dr. Woodworth is an Assistant Professor of Geography at the Ohio State University. He completed his dissertation on new city of Kangbashi in Ordos, Inner Mongolia, which is often referred as a “Ghost City.” With his first-hand living and research experience in this Ghost City, Dr. Woodworth relayed the processes and the key players in China’s socio-economic and political structure that triggered the unprecedented “boomtown” growth phenomena in China.
On April 20th, 2016, the STL Lab was honored to have Professor You-tien Hsing, a Professor of Geography at Berkeley, share her knowledge of the transformation of state and society in China as a result of land battles in Chinese cities and villages. To preface the main content of her presentation, Professor Hsing shared a few key facts about the unprecedented scale and speed of urbanization in China that has required massive mobilization of resources (land, capital, and labor) to build the infrastructure necessary to support the millions of newly urbanized citizens. She argues that this drastic spatial transformation is not simply a physical change but also a process of political, economic, and social transformation.
On April 13th, 2016, Professor ZHAO Yanjing of Xiamen University, Fujian, China gave a dynamic lecture entitled “Justifying Chinese Local Governments’ Land Finance Regime.” The talk focused on his most recent research on land finance and real estate from an institutional economy and dual economy perspective. Professor Zhao believes that, with the interpretation offered by dual economy theory, the problem of land finance as related to Chinese economic growth, real estate, and urbanization can be better understood.
On Wednesday, March 30, Professor Shifu WANG, Fulbright Scholar at MIT’s Department of Urban Studies and Planning and Professor and Chair of the Urban Planning Department at South China University of Technology, gave an informational lecture entitled “Challenges and Opportunities for China’s Urban Renewal.” He reviewed the development of urban renewal practices and management strategies in Southern China, especially in Guangdong Province, which has been the testing ground for the Chinese Open and Reform Policy. Professor Wang then described several cases to give his insights on urban renewal revolution within the context of real estate development and Open and Reform Policy implementation in China.
On February 29th, 2016, Beijing Metro Land Corporation's (MTL) chairman Mr. Stephen Gao visited MIT's Samuel Tak Lee Real Estate Entrepreneurship Lab to have a discussion with MIT Professors Jinghua Zhao and Christopher Zegras regarding MTL's latest project and China's railway development.
Professor Weiping WU, professor and chair of the Department of Urban and Environmental Policy and Planning at Tufts University, gave an informative talk entitled Financing China's Urbanization on March 9, 2016. Using statistical data, Professor Wu illustrated the context of Chinese local government’s fiscal system and demonstrated the mismatch between local government's revenues and expenditures. Comparing the financial approaches to financing infrastructure in China with other industrialized nations and developing countries, Professor Wu argued that the regime of local governments’ land financing is no longer feasible for municipal governments to rely on.
On February 24, 2016, Professor Weizhen CHEN from the Department of Landscape Architecture of Tongji University gave a fascinating talk entitled The Real and The Imagined: Socially Responsible Real Estate in China, Context, Discourse and Practice. First, Professor Chen provided an overview of the conceptual evolution of the idea of "socially responsible real estate" in China. Second, she used three real estate projects as examples to demonstrate how the specificity of each study area and the objectives of key stakeholders, including government officials, developers, design teams, etc., has led to vastly different outcomes.
On February 17, 2016, Dr. Chengchuan TIAN, the director of the Division of Strategic Research and Planning, Department of Climate Change, NDRC, China, gave an enlightening talk on low carbon development projects in China. Given projected population growth and carbon emissions, Dr. Tian explained that low carbon urbanization is an integral part of creating an “innovative development path” for emerging economies that incorporates efficient carbon usage.
The real estate sector has played a crucial role in fostering China’s economic growth since the late 1990s. Between 1997 and 2014, property investment grew from 4 percent of the gross domestic product to 15 percent. Housing construction accounted for 15 percent of all fixed asset investment and the same percentage of total urban employment in 2014 (Chivakul et al, 2015). It is undeniable that any slowing down of real estate investment could have significant impacts on the Chinese economy.
Dr. Ting Shao, a researcher on housing market and land institutions at the Development Research Center (DRC) of the State Council of China, gave a very informative talk on the “New Normal” of China’s housing development strategy. He set the stage for the talk by underscoring the importance of the real estate industry to China’s economy. The real estate industry’s close linkages to countless upstream and downstream industries (e.g. cement, mining, petroleum, steel) means that declines in the real estate industry will lead to non-trivial declines in China’s overall GDP (estimated on an order of 10:1). Currently we already see real estate investment declines dragging down China’s GDP growth rate.
The STL Lab has engaged the services of MIT’s Game Lab to create a real estate game as part of the Mission Curriculum. The prime objective of the educational game is to introduce the concept of socially responsible real estate entrepreneurship to young students between the ages of 16 and 22. The core message of the game is to demonstrate that the best strategy for maximizing long-term profit from investing in real estate is to invest adequately in public goods. In order to create an ideal vision of future real estate development in Chinese cities, the rules of the game are promoting socially responsible real estate practices with variables that are specific to the Chinese real estate market.
On November 18, 2015, a high-level delegation from the Department of Climate Change of the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) visited the Samuel Tak Lee MIT Real Estate Entrepreneurship Lab (STL Lab). The two entities engaged in active discussion on the development of China’s low-carbon pilot projects and the related national policy.
On November 2 and 3, 2015, Mr. Jing Du and Dr. Xiaodong Wang of Topchain Real Estate visited MIT. During their visit, they toured various departments and gave presentations on their work. On November 2, Mr. Du gave a talk entitled “The City and Me,” which provided a detailed overview of his experience in Chinese real estate development.
A key focus of the Samuel Tak Lee MIT Real Estate Entrepreneurship Lab is to collaborate with government agencies, universities and colleges, and real estate professional groups to generate online courses useful for the young people worldwide, especially those in the People's Republic of China. We're now accepting applications for the STL / MISTI 2016 Summer Exchange Camp!
On October 5, 2015, scholars from Tongji University's College of Architecture and Urban Planning joined MIT faculty to discuss socially responsible real estate entrepreneurship. Moderated by Dr. Yu-Hung Hong, the director of the STL Lab, Tongji and MIT faculty were paired together to discuss issues related to human settlement, sustainable urban development strategy, and urban transportation and infrastructure in China.
The Samuel Tak Lee MIT Real Estate Entrepreneurship Lab (STL Lab), in conjunction with the Center for Real Estate (CRE) and the Department of Urban Studies and Planning (DUSP), has announced its first round of faculty research grants, awarding $1.5 million to 13 MIT researchers and their teams.
The MIT Department of Urban Studies (DUSP), Center for Real Estate (CRE), and the Samuel Tak Lee MIT Real Estate Entrepreneurship Lab (STL Lab) have announced the inaugural class of STL Fellows, welcoming 12 master's students to MIT to study socially responsible real estate development and global urbanization.
On a bright and sunny day, in the front lobby of Building 9 for the Samuel Tak Lee Building Dedication and Naming Ceremony, on July 28, 2015, with approximately 100 people in attendance, SA&P Dean Hashim Sarkis welcomed the crowd, “[Sam Tak Lee gift] anchored our small school [SA&P] to the center of the [MIT] campus, encouraging us to consolidate our presence and identity as a school in the main group, on Mass Ave., and around the Sam Tak Lee building.”
During June 23th – July 14th, 2015, the STL Lab travelled to six cities across China, visited nine universities, four professional associations, several real estate firms, and an online education firm. During the visits, the Lab’s Director had conversations with faculty, students, scholars, and practioners on topics related to socially responsible real estate entrepreneurship, collaborative research and practices, as well as online education and case studies. The Director also met with MIT alumni in Hong Kong, Shanghai, and Beijing.
During the visit to China, the Director of the STL Lab met with the alumni of MIT School of Architecture & Planning in Hongkong, Shanghai, and Beijing.
The STL Lab visited the Urban Planning Society of China in Beijing.
On July 12th, 2015, the STL Lab visited the School of Architecture at Tsinghua University in Beijing.
On July 11th, 2015, the STL Lab visited the Peking University - Lincoln Institute, Center for Urban Development and Land Policy.
On July 9th, 2015, the STL Lab visited the Liangzhu Museum which was built and managed by China Vanke Co. Ltd. in Hangzhou, Zhejiang. This is an example of using real estate profits to subsidize historic preservation and public infrastructure investments.
On July 7th, 2015, the STL Lab visited the Shanghai Jiaotong University.
On July 6th, 2015, the STL Lab visited the College of Architecture & Urban Planning at Tongji University in Shanghai.
On July 2th, 2015, the STL Lab visited the Chongqing University in China, sharing with the faculty and students about the mission and objects of socially responsible real estate.
On June 26th, 2015, the STL Lab visited the School of Urban Planning & Design at Perking University Shenzhen Graduate School, and had a discussion with the faculty and students on the topics of socially responsible real estate and land finance.
On June 25th, 2015, the STL Lab visited the Shenzhen University.
On June 25th, 2015, the STL Lab visited the Shenzhen Topchain Real Estate (China), learning about socially responsible real estate projects developed by the firm.
STL Lab participated in an international conference on "Metro Gap" organized by the Metro Lab at MIT. At the conference, participants discussed how academia, practitioners, and international aid agencies are thinking about the definitions of metropolitan areas, and what policy issues are particularly prominent at the metro level.
Dr. Yu-Hung Hong was recently appointed as a member of the editorial board of the Journal of Economic Policy Reform (JEPR). The JEPR was founded by Dani Rodrik when the Berlin Wall came down. It is indexed in Thomson in Economics/Planning and Development, with an impact factor of 0.56.
Dr. Yu-Hung Hong, Director of the STL Lab, presented the findings of his upcoming book titled "Governance and Land Readjustment" at Columbia University on April 9, 2015.
Dr. Yu-Hung Hong, the Director of the STL Lab, delivered a speech on land-based local public finance in China at the World Bank's Land and Poverty Conference. Two senior Chinese officials and the Director of the Peking University-Lincoln Institute Center were also on the same panel that discussed China's land reform strategies.
The Samuel Tak Lee MIT Real Estate Entrepreneurship Laboratory (STL Lab) was established in January 2015, due to the generous gift of MIT with the support from one of the largest gifts in MIT’s history. The donation is from alumnus Samuel Tak Lee ’62, SM ’64. Mr. Lee’s vision is to promote social responsibility among entrepreneurs and academics in the real estate profession worldwide, with a particular focus on China.