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.

The Northeastern Club

The Northeastern Club

A chic downtown home for Northeastern graduates - and a benchmark for alumni clubs around the world.

 

A concept design for a 21st-century alumni club: permeable instead of exclusive, multifunctional instead of formal, a hub of day-to-day activity, special events, visiting fellows and researchers, workspace for alumni, and high-end, contemporary design.    The space is shown activated, with social media mentions, news articles, Yelp reviews and more, demonstrating the digital brand potential of an activated and flexible physical space.

A concept design for a 21st-century alumni club: permeable instead of exclusive, multifunctional instead of formal, a hub of day-to-day activity, special events, visiting fellows and researchers, workspace for alumni, and high-end, contemporary design.

The space is shown activated, with social media mentions, news articles, Yelp reviews and more, demonstrating the digital brand potential of an activated and flexible physical space.

“Mutual understanding is deepest when people are present together.”
— President Joseph Aoun, Northeastern University

Northeastern University has undergone enormous transformation in the last two decades. Once a commuter school on the brink of bankruptcy, the university has executed a massive change in strategy to become a rapidly growing, Top 50 global university. Their journey there is worth a case study on its own, a fascinating and complicated strategy involving taking on debt to invest in on-campus housing, focusing on top talent recruitment and increasing global enrollment, and famously reverse engineering the U.S. News and World Report to rocket upwards in the rankings.

Most recently, Northeastern has focused on building a world-class innovation and entrepreneurship ecosystem here in Boston, a hyper-global student body that leverages its famous co-op program to get jobs and start companies in 186 countries around the world.

As the University expands globally, they have developed a sophisticated but increasingly dispersed alumni network. This Northeastern ‘club’ concept and strategy project was the first step toward developing a global system of alumni hubs, tied with localized education programming, and incorporating high-end hospitality elements that allow Huskies to move around the world with ease, convenience and access to a supportive lifelong learning network.

This project began with a cold pitch to the President’s leadership team, followed by a strategy and feasibility study executed in partnership with the Alumni Office.

We worked with university stakeholders to refine an initial approach, and then hosted a series of facilitated workshops with young alumni to push the concept further, understand their needs, hear their stories and collect other precedents. These workshops were also designed to be entertaining and interactive, so that these alumni leaders would become true project advocates and stakeholders, not just focus group participants.

The final insights were gathered and shared in a strategy deck with University leadership, and the project outputs directly led into a follow-up workstream, evaluating strategy for a series of global hubs by partnering with innovative co-housing developers in key cities around the world.

Design Night Boston

Design Night Boston

Piano Factory Loft

Piano Factory Loft