Kaplan Institute Hosts First Speaker Series Event



By Andrew Wyder

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The Ed Kaplan Family Institute for Innovation and Tech Entrepreneurship hosted the first in a series of speaker events on Tuesday, April 23, in the facility’s Tellabs Innovation Alley. 

“Designed to serve as a unique forum of ideas, in which next-generation leaders from business, technology, and city sectors can come together to share insights on how our city can grow together as an innovation ecosystem,” as Kaplan Institute Executive Director Howard Tullman says, the speaker series’ first event, titled Real Estate—Deconstructed, stemmed from a conversation Tullman and Kaplan Institute Senior Director Barbara S. Pollack had with members of Illinois Institute of Technology’s College of Architecture. 

“We have a whole architecture class here because [our] thought was that it would be important and desirable for [the students to understand the need to] get involved a little earlier in the [development] process so they understood some of the issues and some of the concerns that developers had before they hand these things off to the architects,” Tullman explained at the start of the discussion. 

The series, developed by Pollack, was created to encourage open and informal cross-disciplinary conversations concerning future trends, concerns, and considerations shaping our environments, communities, and cities. The event attracted a crowd of 210, including approximately 100 Illinois Tech architecture students.

Panelists David Reifman, the commissioner of the Chicago Department of Planning and Development; Keating Crown, the managing principal of Sterling Bay; and Justin Brown, the president of Skender, spoke during the session Can Large-Scale, Mixed-Use, High-Tech Developments Help Salvage, Reimagine and Save Our Cities: How Will New Technologies Impact The Way Buildings Get Built In the 21st Century?

The panelists, led by Tullman, explained the development process for projects within Chicago such as The 78 and Lincoln Yards, the latter of which is being developed by Crown’s company. Reifman gave the audience an understanding of the city’s role in attracting and developing these projects, while Crown spoke about various aspects of the Lincoln Yards development. Brown, meanwhile, talked about the contractor’s role in the process, and discussed—with the architecture students in mind—how the development process could be integrated in new ways by including all parties, including contractors, engineers, architects, and designers. 

This event was the first in a series of fireside chats and panel discussions hosted by the Kaplan Institute to provide a new forum for leaders in innovation to learn, share, and collaborate with their peers as well as Illinois Tech students, graduates, and faculty.