Each year, the ULI Fall Meeting draws thousands of land use and real estate professionals from the Institute’s global membership and the industry at large. The meeting exemplifies the Institute’s “big tent” approach: Seasoned executives interact with mid-career and emerging professionals; leaders from the private and public sectors exchange ideas on building better cities; and windows of opportunity open as professional networks grow and lifelong friendships are nurtured.
Technology and its paradigm-shifting influence on real estate was the spotlight of the 2015 ULI Fall Meeting, held in the global tech capital of San Francisco. Smartphone technology and cloud computing have given rise to the sharing economy, which affords consumer experiences without the hassles of ownership. In the conversation with Fall Meeting sponsorship chair Constance Moore that opened the meeting, Airbnb chief executive officer and cofounder Brian Chesky reassured the real estate industry that the sharing economy is not threat; in fact, with its endless inventory of personal homes, Airbnb can help the hospitality sector and cities cope with surges in demand.
A panel featuring ULI Global Chairman Randy Rowe, ULI Global CEO Patrick L. Phillips, and Hamid Moghadam, Fall Meeting steering committee cochairman and Prologis chief executive officer, highlighted e-commerce, driverless vehicles, and coworking platforms as tech-driven innovations that will continue to disrupt traditional real estate models and practices. The meeting closed with futurist Paul Saffo urging the industry to remain flexible and cautious when trying to keep up with technology’s ever-accelerating pace of change. Smarter buildings may not be the answer if the technology available on the market today is obsolete by tomorrow, Saffo said.
The popular ULI Changing World Speaker Series was expanded to a daylong event and brought together visionary thinkers from outside of real estate to share insights from the fields of arts and culture; health and resilience; international development; and technology. The first-ever ULI Developers Showcase featured development teams exhibiting visual presentations of their real estate projects, which included finalists for the 2015 ULI Global Awards for Excellence and projects from product council members. The showcase sparked spontaneous one-on-one conversations between project teams and attendees.
Regional collaboration and policy issues specific to California, the sixth-largest economy in the world, emerged as Fall Meeting themes as well. Governor Jerry Brown spoke about pragmatic leadership and the need for fiscal austerity with Marcus & Millichap chairman and Fall Meeting steering committee cochair George Marcus, who was honored earlier in the week at a ULI Foundation gala. Mayors from the Bay Area discussed how each is addressing the region’s long-term housing affordability crisis as well as challenges related to traffic management and transportation infrastructure. Former U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice argued for a more assertive role for the United States in global affairs.
Study tours that preceded the Fall Meeting allowed attendees to see a few of the ground-breaking projects—including the new, multimodal Transbay Transit Center and 61-story Salesforce Tower—that are transforming San Francisco’s skyline and streetscapes. And in keeping with the meeting’s tech-oriented focus, tours of the Facebook headquarters in Menlo Park and Twitter headquarters in San Francisco gave attendees a close-up view of two of the most influential social networking companies in the world. Not surprisingly, both tours sold out. Several ULI San Francisco member-leaders were instrumental in making the 2015 Fall Meeting a success. They included the following:
Steering Committee Cochairs: Hamid Moghadam, George Marcus, Michael Covarrubias; Steering Committee Chair Constance Moore; Host Committee Cochairs Amy Neches and Michael Jameson; Host Committee Members Alan Billingsley, Libby Seifel, David Blackwell, Susan Sagy, Margo Bradish, Tomas Shoenberg, Mary Corley, Diane Oshima, Nevena Vujic, Scott Denger, Rick Dishnica, Jeff Smith.
ULI San Francisco Chairman Jeff Smith
ULI San Francisco Executive Director Elliott Stein (until 2016)