News - Innovative Class Immerses MIT/CRE Students in the World of Foreign Development
A class of 15 graduate students from MIT’s Center for Real Estate (MIT/CRE) will get a firsthand view of real estate finance and development in Europe when they visit England and France from January 19 through January 28. The group is the second led abroad by Professor Tony Ciochetti, chairman of the MIT/CRE, and it represents a growing focus at the Center on the globalization of real estate.
Investors worldwide are looking to put their funds into projects with exceptional potential, and often they don’t find those opportunities within their own countries. Consequently, a brisk flow of capital from all over the world is fueling large development projects in Europe and Asia, and the future of real estate development will include more major projects in those areas. It’s important for a high profile real estate program like the MIT/CRE to develop creative avenues for students to experience, firsthand, what is going on in those burgeoning foreign markets, especially given the capacity to build upon MIT’s longstanding relationships with academic centers abroad.
Ciochetti, who came to the MIT/CRE in 2004, has been developing one of those productive relationships for the past five years. As a senior visiting professor in the Department of Land Economy at Cambridge University in England, he has taught the kind of intensive real estate development course for which he is ideally qualified. Before commencing his academic career, he spent 10 years in the private sector, concentrating on commercial real estate development.
Students participating in the MIT class, scheduled during the MIT’s winter Independent Activities Period, will interact with Ciochetti’s Cambridge students, who are wrestling with a real world case concerning a commercial property currently undergoing development in Cambridge. Both classes will spend time on the project during the January trip. The emphasis, there and throughout the concentrated nine-day immersion, will be on learning from hands-on experiences and developing the kinds of professional contacts that, Ciochetti hopes, will endure, producing dividends long after the students return to Massachusetts.
Preparing for an Increasingly International Real Estate Market
Like a similar trip Ciochetti led last May and June, the January class will integrate intensive case study work and opportunities to interact with both students and European real estate leaders with an itinerary that includes time in both London and Paris and firsthand exposure to European style high speed transportation via the “Chunnel,” the English Channel tunnel connecting England and France.
During last spring’s trip, 15 CRE students visited both England and Germany. In addition to meeting with Ciochetti’s Cambridge students, the group spent time with representatives of international property consultants King Sturge; the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors; SEP Immobilen Fonden, a family of German open-ended funds invested primarily in Class A office products across the European Union, Asia and the United States; and leading German architect and planner Albert Speer. A highlight of the trip was the opportunity to tour two very high profile English development projects – Chiswick Park and King’s Cross.
Chiswick Park is a 1.5 million square foot office development designed by Richard Rogers Partnership and created by Stanhope in East London. Its airy buildings, surrounding a central lake and landscaped grounds featuring gardens and exercise space, is considered a model for innovative workspace, built to address employers’ desire to attract and retain key employees.
King’s Cross is a very large mixed use redevelopment in central London adjacent to the multi-nodal King’s Cross Station. Roger Madelin, chief executive of Argent Group, spoke to the MIT group concerning his firm’s experience on the project. Then the students were taken upon an extensive tour of the 58.5 acre site, which encompasses refurbishment, investment and new uses for 20 historic buildings and structures; development of 50 new buildings; space for an estimated 250 central London businesses; upwards of 2,000 new homes; three new bridges over Regent’s Canal; 20 new public streets and 10 new major public spaces; and a host of complex development issues.
January’s class is expected to include many similar features. The class will not be traveling to Germany, but it will spent two days in Paris, where Ciochetti is lining up a slate of meetings with prominent real estate and development professionals.
Even as plans for the January trip are being finalized, Ciochetti is exploring options for another trip next May. That one would take students to Asia, where growing populations and increasing prosperity are fueling massive development in several countries.
For MIT/CRE students are not the only beneficiaries of Ciochetti’s new course. Both last spring’s trip and the upcoming class were partially underwritten by Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec, an investment manager, chartered by Québec’s legislature in 1965 to manage public pension funds. Caisse de dépôt joined the CRE as a partner last June.
“We’re grateful for Caisse de dépôt’s generous support,” says Ciochetti. “The fact is, companies like Caisse de dépôt have a significant interest in a program such as ours, which is designed to help MIT/CRE graduates become more effective players in the global real estate world. Even if our students never move abroad, they are very likely to be engaged in domestic development projects funded by foreign investors. This course is helping us to ensure that the CRE continues to play the kind of leading role in real estate that’s expected of an MIT center, whether at home or abroad.”