Tools for Doing Development Different

Building Small is a big idea with impact.   Integrating the best thinking in economic resilience, authentic placemaking, and social responsibility Building Smallʻs time has come.  Accessible to all built environment entrepreneurs you can gain valuable insights, new inspiration, experiential training and support from ʻyour tribeʻ in three ways:

The Forums.  Join 75 small developers like you, as we tour projects, discuss and gain valuable insights for Building Small

The Network. An online platform providing mentors, peers and coaching – all to help you succeed at Building Small

The Book. It all starts with this book. Over 250 pages read the stories, see real examples, and learn how to Build Small.


” This is the un-conference conference.  Period.

— Atif Qadir, AIA  | NEW York, NY

The Small Scale Development Forums (SSDF) span twelve years and twenty-two different cities. Now in our second decade, our programs continue to benefit from a unique combination of real projects and real lessons, combined with group discussions between developers, designers, policy makers, and capital providers. Expand your network of peers to test ideas or ask for assistance. All in a casual, inspired and supportive setting.


MAY 13-15 – BEND, OR



2023 forums

recent Forum programs

Savannah, GA  #20
November  2023

Missed this one?  Get the After Ticket!

 7 hours of recorded, on demand content from our milestone SSDF

Philadelphia, PA  #19
June  2023 

Nashville, TN  #18
Nov 2022

San Antonio, TX #17
May 2022 

Healdsburg, CA  #16
NOV 2021


    “Bringing together real estate entrepreneurs to grow Building Small as a ʻmainstreet to mainstreamʻ solution”

    The Network

    The Network provides a powerful, bespoke online community of other entrepreneurs who are all Building Small.  There are three levels of access

    Small for All – provides free, year long access to new information, discussion threads, tools and techniques others are using to succeed at Building Small.  Join to receive notifications of upcoming Forums, events and webinars.

    Small Team – For a low monthly or annual subscription fee, you will gain additional access to insights, additional tools, case studies and direct links to like-minded real estate entrepreneurs, designers and public sector personnel.  Get valuable take home lessons through webinars, streamed content and focused discussions on the small development process.

    Small Coach –  As a member of Small Coach, you will go beyond training…gaining valuable mentoring for both project and life skills, along with access to an experienced group of Small Faculty.   The joys and challenge of being a Small Developer come from the entrepreneurial journey, and Small Coach is there to support you with monthly virtual and in person workshops, peer-to-peer groups,  ‘accountability’ check-ins, and proprietary tools developed by someone just like you.  Coach is limited to just 25 individuals to keep it intimate and allow personal connections to grow.  Registration opens in April 2023.

    Go ahead.  Explore Building Small – The Network, and figure out what level is best for you.


    “This is one of the most inspiring and practical books I’ve read in a long time.  This is a book you read and reread, until it is a bit dog-eared and the corners turned down on the most important pages.”

    —Molly McCabe | President Hayden Tanner and Co-Founder | The Lotus Project

    Building Small provides the What, Why and How of small scale, incremental development.  An inspiring and educational call-to-action, the 250-page toolkit champions fine grained, evolutionary development as a way to support more resilient local economies, foster more authentic places, heal and grow disinvested neighborhoods, and provide a democratic form of community building that spans age, economic means and the rural to urban transect.  Graphically accessible and organized to serve as a long term reference – Building Small presents an insightful view at what is possible along with the tools needed to make it happen.

    Beyond a great read, a number of design and real estate development programs are using Building Small as their textbook for aspiring Small Developers.  These include North Carolina State University, University of Miami, Presidio School of Management and Richmond Neighborhood Housing Services Emerging Developer Program.


    In 2011 colleague Howard Kozloff and I questioned why our industry’s energy, focus, and capital was so directed toward ‘Big’ projects. Given that finer grained and entrepreneurial projects was where our interest lie,  we asked ‘does anyone else feel the same way?’. So we created the first Small Scale Developers Forum in April 2012. Twelve years and 700 people and 20 different cities later, we now know we aren’t the only ones whose passion lie in Small.

    Small Scale Developer Forum, 2015
    Miami, FL