Technology & Construction

Technology drives fundamental trends in real estate

From the effects of autonomous vehicles on transportation networks, to advances in highly innovative engineering solutions, and to the construction of resilient infrastructure, technology has played, and will continue to play, a critical role in the development of real estate.

How will technology and technological change affect real estate development and investment in the twenty-first century? Some changes are occurring within the real estate industry itself, such as more precise tools for GPS and mapping, and sophisticated but easily accessible databases like Zillow. More broadly, changes in the national and global economy, from new forms of energy to new forms of technology, will create fundamental shifts in the real estate industry. 

Through research, the Fitzgerald Institute for Real Estate generates cutting-edge solutions while considering legal and policy changes that can anticipate many of these developments. This intersection is critical because of the key role of technology in global development.

Featured Research

  • Designing Kinetic Bridges, Shelters, and Buildings

    Ashley P

    Thrall is engaging in path-breaking work on innovative structures. Her Kinetic Structures Laboratory is dedicated to investigating the behavior, design, and optimization of kinetic civil infrastructure utilizing analytical, numerical, and experimental approaches. Kinetic bridges, shelters, and buildings include modular systems, which are rapidly movable and deployable. 

    Current and recent projects include designing rapidly deployable origami-inspired shelters, developing new approaches to rapidly erectable bridge systems, performing topology optimization on modular structures, and investigating prefabricated high-strength rebar systems with high-performance concrete for accelerated construction of nuclear concrete structures. Applications of this research include military operations, disaster relief, and accelerated construction of civil infrastructure. 

    Thrall was recently featured on Women Lead.

  • Investigating the Strength of Recycled Concrete Aggregate

    Yahya Kurama

    Kurama is the co-recipient of the 2018 Charles Zollman Award from the Precast/Prestressed Concrete Institute for his paper, "Effect of recycled concrete aggregates on strength and stiffness gain of concrete and on bond strength of steel prestressing strand" (with Michael Brandes).


    This paper presents an experimental investigation on the use of recycled concrete aggregate (RCA) as a replacement for natural coarse aggregates (such as crushed limestone and gravel) in precast, prestressed concrete structures. Specifically, the paper investigates the effect of RCA on the bond strength between seven-wire steel prestressing strand and concrete and on the rate of concrete compressive strength and stiffness gain with time. Based on the paper's findings, a predictive model was developed for the strand bond strength in RCA concrete. For the materials tested, RCA from precast concrete performed better than RCA from construction demolition concrete and returned ready-mixed concrete.

  • Partnering with Tesla on Gigafactory 1

    Tesla Gigafactory 1

    Arnold and Cusato, along with a team of Notre Dame architecture and engineering faculty, are involved in an innovative collaboration with Tesla on their Gigafactory 1 project in Reno, Nevada. Set to be the largest building in the world at over 15 million square feet, Tesla's challenges include providing for optimized manufacturing while allowing for building growth and expansion; and for Reno's leadership, the rapidly increasing population requires they plan for their community in a thoughtful, effective way.

    The design studio explores how to efficiently move people and materials through the largest building in the world while also creating a sense of place. The studio also considers how to work with a local municipality to prepare for the increase in both direct and indirect employment into the community. The students and faculty pursue these ideas using a "First Principles Thinking” approach.

  • Preventing Coastal Flooding

    Screen Shot 2019 05 08 At 8

    Westerink conducts research in computational science and engineering to help address the issue of storm surge and coastal flooding. In light of events like the flooding of New Orleans due to Hurricane Katrina, he explored how to understand coastal hydrodynamic processes and mitigate risk through high fidelity computer simulations.

    Westerink is at the forefront of the development of high resolution heterogeneous unstructured mesh, multi-physics, multi-scale hydrodynamic codes and models for the coastal ocean.  He is the co-developer of the widely used ADCIRC finite element based shallow water equation code. ADCIRC has evolved into a community based coastal hydrodynamics code with wide ranging applications within academia, government, and the private sector worldwide. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration all use ADCIRC in support of coastal water level and flooding analyses and forecasts, from the Gulf of Mexico to the great lakes, and for extratropical and tropical forecasting models.  His current research is focused on developing the next generation of ESTOFS water level forecast models for NOAA focusing on Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, the U.S. East and Gulf coasts, and Alaska.       

    He has successfully transitioned these models to practitioners for a wide range of applications including the analysis and design of major flood control projects. Westerink wrote the software that is used world-wide to predict storm surge, and he consulted and aided the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in rebuilding the levee system in New Orleans after Katrina. His models were tested and proven correct in the most recent hurricanes that hit New Orleans.