The Samuel Tak Lee MIT Real Estate Entrepreneurship Lab (STL Lab), in conjunction with the Center for Real Estate (CRE) and the Department of Urban Studies and Planning (DUSP), has announced its second round of faculty research grants, awarding $1.1 million to nine MIT researchers and their teams.

Named after alumnus and global real estate developer Samuel Tak Lee ’62, SM ’64, the STL Lab promotes social responsibility among entrepreneurs and thought leaders in the real estate profession worldwide, with a particular focus on China.

The STL Lab’s faculty research grants support inventive projects that advance the understanding of opportunities and challenges in real estate development and entrepreneurship. This year, projects received grants for research in China, Colombia, Malaysia, Mongolia, and Pakistan, and within multiple countries.

The lab awarded two levels of grants: seed grants between $20,000 and $50,000 to initiate a research project, and support for up to $150,000 for new projects of larger scope. Proposals submitted for the grant feature cutting-edge research in:

  • innovation spaces;
  • property taxes and land takings;
  • gated communities and urban village redevelopment;
  • technologies and the built environment;
  • innovative design, real estate, and big data; 

  • affordable housing; and 

  • evaluation methods of socially responsible real estate practices.

Funding was granted to projects undertaken by junior and senior MIT faculty and research scientists. The funded projects are:


Real Estate for Entrepreneurship. Principal Investigators: Dennis Frenchman, Class of 1922 Professor of Urban Studies and Planning in the Department of Urban Studies and Planning and MIT Center for Real Estate; and Andrea Chegut, research scientist in the MIT Center for Real Estate.

A Proposed Evaluation Method of China’s Socially Responsible Real Estate Development. Principal Investigators: Yu-Hung Hong, founding director of the STL Lab in the MIT Department of Urban Studies and Planning and Center for Real Estate; and Lanchun Bian, professor at Tsinghua University School of Architecture in China.

The End of Gated Communities in China? Implications for Sustainable Urban Village Redevelopment. Principal Investigators: Brent D. Ryan, associate professor of urban design and public policy and head of the City Design and Development Group in the MIT Department of Urban Studies and Planning; and Lawrence Vale, Ford Professor of Urban Design and Planning in the MIT Department of Urban Studies and Planning.

Urban-Scale Social Responsibility in China: Behavioral Perspectives in Real Estate and Transportation. Principal Investigator: Jinhua Zhao, Edward H. and Joyce Linde Assistant Professor of City and Transportation Planning in the MIT Department of Urban Studies and Planning.


Drivers of Infrastructure Project Outcomes: Governance and Institutional Elements of Transportation Sector Projects in Bogota, Colombia. Principal Investigators: Donald Lessard, Epoch Foundation Professor of International Management, Emeritus in the MIT Sloan School of Management; and Gabriella Carolini, Ford Career Development Assistant Professor in the International Development Group within the MIT Department of Urban Studies and Planning.


Estimating the Social and Environmental Impacts of Large-Scale Real Estate Development. Principal Investigator: Lawrence Susskind, Ford Professor of Urban and Environmental Planning, director of the MIT Science Impact Collaborative, and head of the Environmental Policy and Planning Group in the MIT Department of Urban Studies and Planning.


Disjuncture and Resilience: A Holistic Approach to Real Estate Development in Ulannbaatar, Mongolia. Principal Investigator: Manduhai Buyandelger, the Class of 1956 Career Development Associate Professor of Anthropology in the MIT Department of Anthropology.


Rebuilding the Social Compact: Urban Service Delivery and Property Taxes in Pakistan. Principal Investigator: Benjamin Olken, professor of economics in the MIT Department of Economics.

Multiple countries

Property in Land, Takings, and Fair Compensation: A Comparative Analysis. Principal Investigator: Balakrishnan Rajagopal, associate professor of law and development in the MIT Department of Urban Studies and Planning.

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