Field Trips to Seoul and Dallas Inspire Baker Program in Real Estate Students

A group of college students and faculty pose under the Gang Nam Style sculpture in Seoul, South Korea
Baker Program students and faculty pose under the "Gangnam Style" sculpture in Seoul, South Korea. photo / Dustin Jones
People standing behind a scale model of city skyscrapers
Baker Program students and faculty viewing a model of tall buildings in one of Seoul's business districts. photo / provided
Students wearing cowboy-style hard hats at a contraction site
Baker Program students touring a two-tower, mixed-use development in downtown Dallas. photo / Klyde Warren Park
Men climb stairs in a corporate office building
The Baker Program students toured Hillwood Properties's new corporate campus in Dallas. photo / provided
February 10, 2017

Each year, first- and second-year students in the Cornell Baker Program in Real Estate embark on field trips during Winter Session. This year, the annual domestic field trip went big in Dallas, Texas, and went global in Seoul, South Korea, on the program's first intercontinental trek.

"An integral part of our real estate curriculum is the requirement that our students participate in these case-study trips," said Dustin C. Jones, program director. "We make the whole city — the streets, the highways, the transit routes, the streetscapes, the blocks, the lots, the buildings, the design, and the community — into our classroom."

That was borne out in the trip to Seoul taken by second-year Baker students in December, where global real estate was the focus. During the three-day trip, the students were hosted by the Baker Program Alumni Association Seoul chapter; learned about housing policy at City Hall; attended a symposium hosted by Yonsei University; visited firms operating within three of the city's business districts — the Central Business District (CBD), Yeouido Business District (YBD), and Gangnam Business District (GBD); toured some of the tallest towers in Korea; and visited the Songdo International Business District, much of which is still in development.

Junghwan Kang (M.P.S. RE '17), a native of Korea, helped plan the trip. "I tried to focus on introducing various but relevant places to the faculty and colleagues," said Kang, "to give them the opportunity to experience different cultural aspects of real estate in Korea, and a look at both the history and future of the Korean real estate market in action."

First-year Baker students took in the city of Dallas in January. The fast-growing urban hub ranked as the third most important target market for real estate investors in 2016, after New York City and Los Angeles, according to observers of domestic investment trends.

The itinerary of tours and presentations began with a talk by Bob Sambol, manager of Trinity Grove Restaurants. In the days following, the students visited the Sheraton Dallas — the state's largest hotel — with general manager Mark Sanders; developer Trammell Crow Company's Park District, a new two-tower, mixed-use development in downtown; a penthouse in Forest City's redevelopment of The Merc Apartments; a new corporate campus by Hillwood Investment Properties; and a residential property by Dallas luxury home builder Toll Brothers.

"There is no substitute for experiential learning," said Jones, who accompanied the students on both trips. "It's the only way to truly appreciate the complexity of our built environment."

By Patti Witten