Tools for Doing Development Different

Building Small is an idea with impact.  It integrates the best thinking in social responsibility, economic resilience, and authentic placemaking with the potential of the built environment done right.  But trying to change an industry takes time, patience and a movement committed to doing development differently.  You can join this movement in three ways:

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

The Forums.  Join us twice a year in a new city as we tour projects, hear panel discussions and gain valuable insights for Building Small

The Network. Continue your professional growth by joining the Small Coach – an annual subscription program providing the tools you need to Build Small

” These gatherings are extraordinary! The value is immeasurable. 
The experience is a firehose of inspiration, camaraderie and knowledge.”

— DAMIAN FARRELL, FAIA | DAMIAN FARRELL DESIGN | ANN ARBOR MI

BUILDING SMALL : The FORUM

The Small Scale Development Forums (SSDF) have spanned nine years and sixteen cities. Each Forum is themed to delve into a specific aspect of Small inherent to its location. Past programs have included ‘Arts, Culture and Small’ (Miami, FL 2015); ‘Small and the Public Realm’ (Portland 2017); ‘Small Contemporary Design in a Historic City’ (Charleston SC 2018); and ‘Small Meets Small’ (Healdsburg, CA 2021).

Join me twice a year to take part in group discussions with developers, policy makers, and capital providers. See real projects and learn real lessons from the trenches.   Grow your network of peers and colleagues you can call to test ideas or ask for assistance.   All in a casual, inspired and supportive setting  of dedicated individuals who share your passion and commitment to Small.

Recent Forum

    • #16  November 2021 | Healdsburg, CA |  GET SUMMARY 

Upcoming Forums

    • #17 April 2022 |San Diego, CA
    • #18 Fall 2022 | Philadelphia, PA
    • #19 March 22-24 | San Antonio, TX
    • #20 Fall 2023 | We will celebrate our 20th Forum with a national conference of over 150 Small thinkers, doers and leaders. Where would you like to go?  Send your suggestion for which city is the best place to highlight the power of Small! 
“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 : The Book

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.

Whereas the Small Scale Forum provides lessons and a collegial learning environment, Small Coach pushes you to succeed with your projects and the pursuit of your personal passion.    

BUILDING SMALL : THE NETWORK

Small Coach

For a small annual subscription fee, you will participate all year long with like-minded real estate entrepreneurs, designers and public sector personnel working to Build Small. Take part in monthly virtual group discussions focused on specific aspects of the development process, watch curated content that supports your efforts, and gain access to tools others are using to develop their projects.  Join breakouts to discuss the thorny problems you are facing, while building on the hard earned experience of those who have been there before.  As a Small developer you are likely a solo entrepreneur, Small Coach provides monthly ‘accountability’ check-ins with your peers to make sure you are making progress toward the goals you will set at the beginning of each year.

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 with assistance from ULI, we created the first Small Scale Developers Forum in April 2012. Nine years, 300 people and 15 different cities later, we know we aren’t the only ones whose passion lie in Small.

Small Scale Developer Forum, 2015
Miami, FL