Skip to main content

TBG teaches urban design to an SMU MBA class


Great design is not done in a vacuum. It’s amazing how many different types of people influence the outcome of a design, from the designers to the developers to the local government to the citizens. You could say it takes a village.

Over the last couple months, we’ve been helping the SMU Cox School of Business with a class focused on Real Estate Development. The goal of the class is to learn the principles and processes of real estate development. So, are we teaching real estate development to grad students? Yes and no; we are partnering with many great developers and consultants to teach different aspects of development.

TBG’s involvement has been focused on the planning and design aspect, which is the fun stuff. We’ve given lectures and held workshops on the history of planning, the design process, and how we look at a site and analyze it.

Some of the common questions that are asked are:

  • How do you assemble a development company?
  • How do you find land?
  • Once you find it, how do you purchase it, negotiate and finish due diligence to make the best offer?

TBG helped each team of students in a workshop-style format to set up their development program and guide the organization of the site plans.

The teams then pitched their plans to an assembly of local developers in a Shark Tank type of environment. We hoped we help teach some basic principles; here are some quotes from some of our TBGers who participated!

“Getting to work with the students was a great opportunity. The biggest takeaway I had was how the students approached the site. With various educational and professional backgrounds not in design, their thought process was very different to how we typically approach sites.  It was enlightening to see how important and diverse individuals background are to places and how they bring new ideas of what we can do to the places we live and work.” – Tom Wenner

“I wasn’t sure what to expect going into these design sessions since most of the students had varying backgrounds and work experience. It was interesting to hear their assumptions and thought processes on how they would develop the site. Our expertise came into play by guiding them through the design process and helping them understand positives and negatives to their assumptions and program. By the end of the day, the groups seemed to be really energized and excited about their projects. So… we asked them to remember us and hire us in the future.” – Sherri Collison

“Overall it was a great experience to engage with the students who have different background from us, learning a different perspective from them – especially the finance part. Since I mostly focus on landscape design, it is also beneficial for me to understand the urban design/planning aspect of our work. The difficult part is figuring out how to guide the student without inserting too much of my professional opinions; it’s more like leading them to think their way and help them achieve THEIR ideas on paper.” – Xin Yang