Shaping Cities: Real Estate and Urban Planning


3.0 units of USC credit




Monday through Friday, 9:00am – 4:00pm

Special Dress Code

Casual during class. Business casual for company visits. Hard-soled, closed-toe shoes for development site visits. Business attire for final presentations.


What role do you want to play in shaping cities? Through this four week course students work in teams representing a property development company and respond to a “Request for Proposal” for the redevelopment of a blighted neighborhood in a hypothetical community. Each team member assumes one of five roles: finance director, marketing director, city liaison, neighborhood liaison, and site planner. Teams address challenging financial, social, political, and design issues, develop a pro forma and craft a three-dimensional LEGO model to bring their redevelopment vision to life. At the end of the session students present their proposal to a “City Council” that awards the development contract to the winning team.


  • Participation in Urban Land Institute’s (ULI) Urban Plan project
  • Visits to urban planning and real estate organizations including city council, city planning department, development company, architecture firm, and finance company
  • Field trips to real estate projects throughout Los Angeles
  • Class lectures from USC faculty on urban economics, urban design, and land use policy
  • Urban Plan critique sessions with experienced real estate executives

Topic of Study

  • An understanding of how the built environment is shaped
    • Market forces (supply and demand, availability of capital, risk vs reward)
    • Public policy forces (regulation, politics)
    • Community forces (advocacy groups, neighborhood organizations)
  • Basics of real estate finance through the use of an Excel template
  • Team collaboration skills through the stakeholder roles
  • Public speaking skills though the “City Council” presentation