“Abu Dhabi 2030”

Comprehensive Planning, Environment, Housing, Planning, Sustainable Development, Transportation, Urban and Regional Design

Currently the city of Abu Dhabi has a population of 1 million. By the time of 2030, the figure will rise to 3 million. What will the urban planning department deal with such a large population, and guide the city towards sustainability? This short video will tell you.


Real Estate Development Drivers, Risks, and Risk Mitigation

Land Use Development, Planning, Real Estate Development
  • Real Estate Development Drivers


Housing (retail): demolitions, population growth, reduction of household size, shifting of household type toward non-family, increase proportion of middle-age and seniors, etc.
Commercial and Industrial: employment growth, etc.


increase of land prices and supplies, increase of material prices, reduction of mortgage rates, increase of labor costs, etc.


Cultural values and attitudes, infrastructure, etc.

  • Mega Trends

High housing vacancy

Rapid growth of seniors

Flat per capita income growth

Potential post-recession surges in employment and housing starts

Fastest growth in medical, office and educational occupations

Job leadership by small establishments

Strong inflation in steel prices

Urban Design Case Study – Laguna West, Sacramento County, California

Case Study, Community Design, Community Planning, Planning, Sustainable Development, Urban and Regional Design

Laguna West occupies an area of 1,045 acres. It is the first application of Calthorpe’s Transit-Oriented Development principles, which is now embraced in the general plan for Sacramento.

Design Features:

  • Pedestrian friendly neighborhoods that encourage walking
  • A town center
  • A nature/riparian zone

Real Estate Development Process and Major Players

Land Use Development, Planning, Real Estate Development

“[…] developers must understand the users and their needs. Without users, buildings – no matter how aesthetically pleasing or how theoretically functional – have no value.”

  • What is Real Estate Development/Land Development?

Real estate development is the continual reconfiguration of the built environment to meet society’s needs.

  • The 8 Stages Non-linear Process of Real Estate Development

Inception of an Idea: market research, problem solving, creating
Refinement of the Idea: site selection, project design
Feasibility: public and private review
Contract Negotiation: contractors, tenants, regulators
Formal Commitment: contracts and entitlements
Construction: building
Completion and Formal Opening: marketing , sales
Property, Asset, and Portfolio Management” tenants and technology

Urban Design Case Study – Seaside, Walton County, Floride

Community Design, Community Planning, Housing, Planning, Urban and Regional Design

Seven decades ago, when the grandfather of Robert S. Davis purchased this 80 acres of land along the shore of Northwest Florida, he may not imagined that his land had become a dream of many urbanists and architects.

But now, Seaside, Florida is in slides of many lecture class in architecture schools, with the pictures of Andres Duany and  Elizabeth Plater-zyberk. Designers describe it as recreating traditional neighborhood of 1920s. “Old way, new town.” As the principal designers, Andres Duany and  Elizabeth Plater-zyberk pursued an overriding goal, which was fostering a strong sense of community.

Form-Based Codes

Law, Planning
  • What Are Form-Based Codes?

“Form-based codes foster predictable built results and a high-quality public realm by using physical form (rather than separation of uses) as the organizing principle for the code. They are regulations, not mere guidelines, adopted into city or county law. Form-based codes offer a powerful alternative to conventional zoning.” – FBCI

“Form-based codes place a primary emphasis on building type, dimensions, parking location and façade features, and less emphasis on uses. They stress the appearance of the streetscape, or public realm, over long lists  of different use types. ” – Local Govenment Commission

Form-based codes were developed to overcome the problem of sprawl, which is created by use-based codes.

New Urbanism

Community Design, Community Planning, Planning, Sustainable Development, Urban and Regional Design

“New Urbanism aims to build hamlets, neighborhoods, villages, towns, and cities rather than subdivisions, shopping centers, and office parks like those found in conventional suburban development (CSD). A fundamental goal is a proper balance between the needs of the automobile and the needs of the pedestrian. Maximizing walkability is essential.” – Comprehensive Report & Best Practices Guide

Seven Principles: (Comprehensive Report & Best Practices Guide)

1. Building blocks->neighborhood->village/small town/bigger town/city

2. Well-defined edge: a quarter-mile distance that everyone can reach.

3. Corridors are connecting different neighborhoods.

4. Human scale.

5. A range of transportation options.

6. Hierarchy streets.

7. Civic buildings as landmarks.

Responsible Property Investing

Community Planning, Planning, Real Estate Development

What is it?

Responsible Property Investing (RPI) is property investment or management strategies that maximizes the positive and minimizes the negative social and environmental effects of property investing, consistent with fiduciary responsibilities.

10 elements of RPI that help buildings perform better:

Energy conservation
Environmental protection
Voluntary certifications
Public transport oriented developments
Urban revitalization and adaptability
Health and safety
Worker well-being
Corporate citizenship
Social equity and community development
Local citizenship

Asset-Based Community Development

Community Planning, Planning

According to the Asset-based Community Development Institute (ABCD), which is located at Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois,  Asset-Based Community Development is a methodology that helps to build strong and sustainable communities.

Above are four types of community building work which ABCD is currently involved:

  • Building community capacity. ABCD engages directly with community groups to support their asset-based community development efforts. The Institute and its affiliated faculty also participate in an array of local, regional, and international conferences and workshops as keynote speakers, workshop and training facilitators, technical support providers, and learning participants.
  • Conducting research. Using a community-based participatory research approach, ABCD partners with community residents and other local entities to conduct research that helps prepare them to achieve their own community building objectives. ABCD also works with community groups, non-profits, and an array of other institutions to evaluate asset-based community development projects.
  • Working with students. Working directly with students, Northwestern faculty, and other organizations, ABCD contributes to the development of the next generation of engaged civic leaders and community builders.
  • Producing publications and resources. Producing community building publications and other resources for practitioners and scholars in the community development field, ABCD contributes to a growing body of knowledge about the effectiveness of the asset-based approach to strengthening communities.

For more information, please visit ABCD, or download the introduction from the basic manual Building Communities from the Inside Out.

Singapore – Best Place to Live for Asian Expatriates 2012

Environment, Planning

According to ECA International, 2012 global ranking for the best livable location is Singapore, which has “good air quality, excellent infrastructure and healthcare facilities, low crime and health risks.”

“Updated annually, ECA International’s Location Ratings system helps companies to establish appropriate expatriate allowances to compensate for the level of adjustment required to complete an assignment. It objectively evaluates a host of factors to form an assessment of the overall quality of living in over 400 locations worldwide. These factors include climate, availability of health services, housing and utilities, isolation, access to a social network and leisure facilities, infrastructure, personal safety, political tensions and air quality. ”

Top 20 most liveable locations globally for Asians

Global Rank 2012 Location Global Rank 2011
1 Singapore 1
2 Sydney 2
3 Adelaide 4
3 Brisbane 3
5 Kobe 4
6 Perth 6
7 Canberra 9
8 Dublin 12
8 Melbourne 10
8 Copenhagen 10
11 Bern 17
11 Hong Kong 14
11 Vancouver 14
11 Auckland 12
15 Antwerp 17
15 Wellington 14
17 San Francisco 20
17 Tokyo 6
17 Yokohama 6
20 Amsterdam 22