Commercial Real Estate – Moving Towards a Collaborative Ecosystem

On June 8, 2021, in Downtown Los Angeles, Northwestern Capital Partners (NCP) hosted a small conference to discuss the confluence of real estate, technology, and mobility.  This hallmark event was a natural offshoot from NCP’s Real Estate Leadership Group (RELG)—a series of 17 meetings aimed at keeping leaders engaged and connected over the past year. The RELG companies include developers, architects, and designers.  Collectively, these companies manage over $5 trillion in real estate assets.

Our webinars, which started as a discussion on how we get back to work post-pandemic, grew from three people (thanks to Dylan Jones and Compie Newman of Gensler and CBRE, respectively) to over one hundred regular invitees spanning the globe. During these webinars, we discussed the future of urban cities, design, going back to work, the financial markets, climate change, health, and diversity. The conversations initially focused on how to return to work safely, but then evolved into the bigger question of how do we build and shape a better work-life future, together? 

The meeting on June 8 was held in-person / virtually at Skanska’s Los Angeles headquarters with thanks to Clare De Briere).  In addition to our real estate and architecture colleagues, we had two global auto manufacturers, the Urban Land Institute, and the California Transportation Commission in attendance.

Our June 8 meeting produced an undistilled conversation about the future of commercial real estate, and how we can work together to meet the demands of new work-life environments.   The commercial real estate world will be tasked with innovating, connecting and producing assets in a more efficient way.  This task will lead to new developments putting people, not automobiles, at the center of urban design and development. 

120 years ago, Daniel Burnham of Chicago was instrumental in the design and development of the skyscraper, which shaped our cities for over a century.  The wide flange steel beam, transit systems, and the automobile created a new sort of workplace.  The result was vibrant city centers throughout the US and around the world, with towering dense cities becoming a sign of affluence and success.  Density gave way to central business districts, the heartbeat of work.

The next wave of technological breakthroughs will allow diffusion and dispersion of how we work and live. Unlike Burnham’s innovations, these breakthroughs likely will not last a century, but they will be series of physical and digital enhancements every few years. At NCP and our RELG group, we will continue to curate thought-provoking discussions and white papers to support and advance our greatest societal needs – human connectivity, work-life balance in urban cities, and assurance that we all work to improve the environment—ultimately reducing the global carbon footprint.

The profound changes of the past year have resulted in unparalleled challenges and equally momentous opportunities for those seeking to shape the future.  Special thanks to my colleagues at Northwestern Capital Partners and Bosch Connected Mobility for supporting this effort.

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