ULI Philadelphia Blog

Event Recap: “Disrupting Real Estate with Technology”

On Wednesday, February 6th, ULI members and colleagues gathered at the newly constructed University of Delaware STAR Campus. The event “Disrupting Real Estate with Technology: A New Era Demands New Thinking” highlighted specific trends and innovations within the industry, such as urbanization, flexibility, the sharing economy, digitization, mobility and artificial intelligence.

Keynote speaker James Lee, founder of StratFI, discussed some of the key differences of the modern workplace compared to what we once knew. In the 1970’s, the average square foot per employee was 600. In today’s workplace, it has dwindled down to just 150 sq ft per employee, partly due to the rise in popularity of co-working spaces. Technology has also played a crucial role in why these statistics have become what they are.

Highlighting specific game changing trends within the industry, James Lee emphasized the need for smart infrastructure in cities that would allow for new technologies to work on a large scale. Transportation and communication systems will continue to play a large role in creating this infrastructure. Small cities, such as Wilmington will need to think differently than big cities, such as Philadelphia or New York in implementing the next generation of technology.

Following the Keynote, a panel of real estate professionals from various sectors explored how different sectors are adapting to new technologies and what the future looks like for real estate construction, property management and leasing. Some of the presenters’ key takeaways were:

Ian Anderson, Director of Research and Analysis, CBRE

  • Office – Tenants desire short term leaser and lower sq. ft. per employee
  • Retail – Malls are not dying but becoming mixed-use town centers
  • Industrial – Experiencing record low vacancy rates and implementing new technology to keep up with demand

Jamie Gorski, Chief Marketing Officer, The Bozzuto Group

  • Intelligence is the new frontier; using AI technology allows us to do business better
  • Inclusive marketing goes far beyond fair housing programs; need to ensure everyone feels welcome in communities

Ed McCauley, Director of IT, Wohlsen Construction

  • Autonomous earth movers/bulldozers and paperless construction workers are the future of construction
  • Implementation of digitization or “Digital Twin” of construction projects saves significant money and helps to avoid running into issues in the field

ULI would like to thank you the University of Delaware STAR campus for hosting this event, our speakers for giving us a new perspective into the future of real estate and our Title sponsor Wohlsen Construction for their support.

Contributed by Joel Amin. Joel is one of the 2019 ULI Etkin Johnson Scholars and is currently pursuing his Bachelor’s in Entrepreneurship and Technology Innovation at the University of Delaware.

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