FWD is a consulting and development firm with a mission to create unconventional real estate that builds social fabric. 

Our projects rethink physical spaces with three goals: create strong communities, enhance local economies, and transform lives.

A Global University System

Working with Northeastern University to build real estate partnerships as they expand around the world.

 

A diagram from a strategy presentation to Northeastern university leadership, showing a conceptual programming breakdown for an ideal global university hub.   Subsequent diagrams illustrated an “asset-light'“ approach to creating a building like this, leveraging partnerships with innovative co-living and student housing developers who would build and operate the space, allowing Northeastern to add value as an education partner while not having to manage or develop a network of foreign assets.

A diagram from a strategy presentation to Northeastern university leadership, showing a conceptual programming breakdown for an ideal global university hub.

Subsequent diagrams illustrated an “asset-light'“ approach to creating a building like this, leveraging partnerships with innovative co-living and student housing developers who would build and operate the space, allowing Northeastern to add value as an education partner while not having to manage or develop a network of foreign assets.

“Northeastern sees the future differently. Networks are the answer.”
— Northeastern 2019 Report

This case study picks up where the Northeastern Alumni Club Concept left off. Northeastern’s growth strategy has made the university and its networks increasingly global, and the speed of their growth rate combined with complex educational regulations makes it difficult to contemplate major real estate or capital projects. At the same time, the global alumni and student network is increasingly dispersed, and there is a great demand for a more “campus-like feel” in other cities where Northeastern has put down roots.

Our work was aimed at solving this challenge: developing an asset-light strategy for creating exciting, vibrant, multi-functional Northeastern hubs around with world, providing branded housing, classroom space, room to work and socialize and build community, but without having to manage or own assets.

We identified a number of potential development partners that had expertise in the exact type of space Northeastern needed: operators of co-living and micro-housing buildings, student housing developers, and co-working space developers that were expanding in the key markets Northeastern was targeting. We then worked with senior leadership to develop criteria to evaluate these prospective partners, and for the ones that made the cut, we made introductions, pitched each side, and facilitated deeper examination into potential deals, sites and global partnership approaches.

District Hall

District Hall

Design Night Boston

Design Night Boston