With market downturn looming on the horizon, can massive urban-scale projects planned during the good times realize theirits visions? What are the opportunities and risks for these urban scale projects in different cities? This panel will critically examine the progress of massive urban projects both proposed and currently underway, discussing spatial planning and urban design, social impact and community engagement, and environment and sustainability.



Richard Peiser (Moderator)

professor, harvard gsd

Richard Peiser has been the Michael D. Spear Professor of Real Estate Development at the Graduate School of Design since 1998. He is directing the school's activities in advanced education for senior real estate executives, notably the six-week Advanced Management Development Program in Real Estate. Peiser's primary research has focused on developing an understanding of the response of real estate developers to the market place and to the institutional environment in which they operate, particularly in the areas of urban redevelopment, affordable housing, and suburban sprawl. Current research projects focus on non-performing loans, suburban redevelopment, and new towns. A planner and entrepreneur-developer, as well as an expert in real estate finance, he has also demonstrated an interest in spatial and design issues as well as in the economics of land development. He has been active in the Urban Land Institute, where he is now a Trustee, and of which he has authored numerous publications on his policy-oriented research. Peiser received a BA from Yale University, an MBA from Harvard Business School, and a PhD from the University of Cambridge.

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Nuno Abreu

CEO & Creative Director, Slash

Nuno has over 20 years experience in the creative industry, developing projects globally, from Europe, where he founded Slash in Portugal, to Africa, America and Asia.Today he leads Slash in key branding processes globally, always having as the main goal to fulfil the company’s main purpose, to impact the lives of those touched by these brands.

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Jonathan Drescher

President, Plaxall

Jonathan is President of Plaxall, a family-run business in Queens, NY, where he is leading the rezoning and repositioning of the Anable Basin in LIC. Drescher was previously the Senior Vice President of Project Development at The Durst Organization, where he oversaw the hiring and progress of contractors to plan, design, and construct Durst’s large-scale projects. He also worked as an Associate Principal at Arup, a design and building-consulting firm Drescher was project manager for the World Trade Center reconstruction and the new MTA Fulton Street Transit Center.


David Himmel

chief of staff, jamestown

David Himmel is the Chief of Staff of Jamestown, a vertically integrated real estate operator with $11 billion of assets under management. Jamestown is recognized nationally for a variety of adaptive reuse developments, including Chelsea Market in New York, Industry City in Brooklyn, Ghirardelli Square in San Francisco, and Ponce City Market in Atlanta. With a mix of core and opportunistic funds, Jamestown is known for its creative leadership in developing distinctive urban communities.

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Cali Williams

Director & SVP, NYCEDC

Cali Kay Williams is the Director of Sunnyside Yard and Senior Vice President at the New York City Economic Development Corporation. As the Director of Sunnyside Yard, she serves as the City’s coordinator on all aspects of the mega-project including crafting the master plan and vision for this 180-rail yard in Western Queens.