Emerging Areas

Real estate is dynamic and has multiple dimensions

From real estate development and placemaking, to conservation and preservation, to emerging technologies and markets, the Fitzgerald Institute for Real Estate is continually pursuing research, scholarship, and creative endeavor in areas with substantial impact. 

Through the intersection and collaboration of scholars from various fields, including architecture and engineering, economics and finance, law and the sciences, the Institute aims to facilitate efforts to improve our understanding of real estate and provide innovative solutions to real world problems.

Featured Research

  • Analyzing Private Claims to Public Property

    Bruce Huber

    Huber recently published "The Durability of Private Claims to Public Property" in the Georgetown Law Journal.


    Property rights and resource use are closely related. Scholarly inquiry about their relation, however, tends to emphasize private property arrangements while ignoring public property — property formally owned by government. The well-known tragedies of the commons and anticommons, for example, are generally analyzed with reference to the optimal form and degree of private ownership. But what about property owned by the state? The federal government alone owns nearly one-third of the land area of the United States. One could well ask: is there a tragedy associated with public property, too?

    If there is, here is what it might look like: private claims to public property are remarkably durable. Consider private claims to the lands and resources owned and managed by the federal government. Once established, these claims — of which there are hundreds of thousands — seem, in many instances, to take on a life of their own. Mining claims, leases for the development of coal or oil and gas, grazing permits, hydropower licenses, ski resort leases, even residential leases — claims such as these are often extended, expanded, renewed, and protected by law and by bureaucratic practices in ways that shape, and often trump, other policy objectives with respect to federal land. Newer claimants, and policies that would favor new land uses or alter the mix of uses, tend to be disfavored. These tendencies create a set of managerial and policymaking difficulties that constrain lawmakers and land managers and that ultimately disserve the interests of the citizens in whose interest state property ostensibly is managed.

    This article examines the durability of private claims to public property, first, by providing a set of examples, and second, by explaining how the American historical experience and legal system combine to give public property this character. Third, it suggests implications for both theory and practice, in particular cautioning that lawmakers should take into account the phenomenon described here before granting new forms of access to various public resources.

  • Assessing Seismic Risk

    Kevin Walsh

    Walsh has worked on assessing and managing seismic risk, sustainability, and resiliency in New Zealand, including publishing at least half a dozen articles pertaining to identifying seismic vulnerabilities in large building stocks and further investigating the business decisions pertaining to retrofits and other remedial actions.  Among his recent articles is "Seismic Risk Management of a Large Public Facilities Portfolio: A New Zealand Case Study" (with Reza Jafarzadeh, Nicola M Short & Jason Ingham). 


    Purpose: In the interest of advancing practice in the field of facilities management, facility asset managers dealing with regulatory environments pertaining to earthquakes and buildings can learn a great deal from the successes and short-comings of a case study programme from the Auckland Council Property Department (ACPD), which manages the public facilities portfolio for the largest local administrative region in New Zealand in both population and landmass.

    Design/methodology/approach: ACPD has initiated its response to New Zealand’s earthquake mitigation mandates by identifying buildings most at risk to an earthquake in its large and varied portfolio through the use of a rapid building evaluation programme strategically targeted to vulnerable building types with consequential attributes including service type, number of occupants, floor area, and geographic location.

    Findings: ACPD was able to rapidly cull down its portfolio of approximately 3500 buildings to just over 100 “high-exposure” buildings in urgent need of evaluation, set priorities for future evaluations, estimate needed operational and capital expenditures for long-term planning, and provide useful information to more general facilities management decision-making processes.

    Originality/value: A number of major cities around the world in areas of high seismicity have enacted ordinances mandating seismic retrofitting. However, much of the existing guiding literature regarding earthquake-related portfolio evaluations and costs pertains to specific scenarios involving real or hypothetical earthquakes. This case study, in contrast, details the approach taken by a public portfolio owner responding to legal mandates and attempting to quantify and reduce its life-safety risk exposure across a large portfolio as efficiently as possible using readily available information, a rapid building evaluation programme, and best-practice predictive models for consulting and construction work.

  • Shaping the Places We Live

    John Nagle

    Nagle teaches a number of courses related to environmental law, legislation, torts, and property. He is the co-author of casebooks on “The Practice and Policy of Environmental Law, “Property Law,” and “The Law of Biodiversity and Ecosystem Management." His other writings have explored such topics as the relationship between environmental pollution and cultural pollution; the role of religion in environmental law; Chinese environmental law; the scope of congressional power to protect endangered species; alternative approaches to campaign finance reform; and the competing roles of Congress and the courts in correcting statutory mistakes. 

    In his book published by Yale University Press, "Law's Environment: How the Law Shapes the Places We Live," Nagle argues that sound environmental policy requires better coordination among the many laws, regulations, and social norms that determine the values and uses of our scarce lands and waters.

  • Working to Preserve the Taj Mahal

    Screen Shot 2019 05 08 At 9

    What if, in an instant, one of the world’s most renowned, most beloved, most iconic sites was destroyed? Across the globe, many important cultural heritage monuments face the real threat of ruin by human or natural disaster. Scholars at Notre Dame are helping to ensure the preservation of these treasures.

    Krusche has launched a Digital Historical Architecture Research and Material Analysis (DHARMA) initiative, which is mapping World Heritage Sites like the Taj Mahal and the Roman Forum with unprecedented precision and detail. The digital assessments will be translated into 3-D models which will provide essential information to best preserve and restore these sites in the future.

    Krusche’s comprehensive mapping technology and expertise have led her to be recognized as a leading expert on the construction of the Taj Mahal. After earthquakes devastated much of nearby Nepal last spring, authorities called on Professor Krusche to assess the condition of the Taj Mahal and identify any deterioration to ensure the future of the Indian landmark.