Jesse M. Keenan focuses his practice in the regulatory and transactional components of domestic and international real estate development, including secured transnational finance, private equity conduits, design technology ventures, and affordable housing and hospitality development. Keenan also counsel clients on a wide range of issues relating to climate change, including the regulation, financing and development of resilient and adaptive infrastructure.

Jesse M. Keenan is a member of the faculty of the Graduate School of Design at Harvard University where he teaches courses and conducts research in the fields of real estate development, design-development management and technology and climate adaptation science. Keenan formerly served as the co-founder and Research Director of the Center for Urban Real Estate (CURE), as a member of the faculty at the Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation at Columbia University. Keenan has previously advised on matters concerning real estate and housing for agencies of the U.S. Government, Fortune 500 Companies, not-for-profit community enterprises and international development NGOs. Keenan has previously held various teaching, research and visiting appointments at the Joint Center for Housing Studies (GSD/KSG), University of Miami School of Law, the University of Amsterdam and The Bauhaus Academy in Dessau, Germany. Keenan has conducted climate adaptation research with various cities around the globe including Amsterdam, Boston, Miami, New York City (NYC), Rotterdam, Sao Paulo, Rio de Janeiro, Stockholm and Tokyo.

Keenan presently serves as the Vice-Chair for the U.S. Community Resilience Panel, a federal interagency initiative under the White House Climate Adaptation Plan, and serves as editorial team co-lead for the Built Environment at the U.S. Climate Resilience Toolkit at Keenan previously served as a member of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Regional Disaster Sheltering and Housing Recovery Planning Team and as a member of Mayor Bloomberg’s NYC Task Force for Building Resiliency. Presently, Keenan serves on the Climate Change Working Group for the 4th Regional Plan for NYC. Keenan also serves as a climate change advisor to the national organization of the American Institute for Architects (AIA) and serves as an Associate Editor of the International Journal of Climate Change Strategies and Management (Emerald). Keenan advised the Rebuild By Design and the National Disaster Resilience Competitions and previously served as co-chair for the 2016 North American Symposium on Climate Change Adaptation.

Keenan’s work bridging the art and science of the built environment includes contributions to exhibitions at the Museum of Modern Art, New York (Foreclosed: Rehousing the American Dream (Community Growth REIT), 2012; Uneven Growth: Tactical Urbanism and Expanded Megacities (Community Growth Corporation), 2014), Hong Kong Biennale (Archigram on the Margins: A Reinterpretation in the Face of Climate Change, 2014), MAK (Community Growth Corporation, 2015) and the Southern California Institute of Architecture (Locavore Agritech, 2010). Keenan has completed regional planning research in Brazil in collaboration with UN-Habitat; housing research in NYC for the Carnegie Corporation of New York; urban technology research sponsored by Google, CISCO and Airbnb; zoning research with the NYC Department of City Planning; public resilience planning research for the Rockefeller Foundation; adaptive capacity research with Goldman Sachs; adaptive building design research in Tokyo for Hulic Co., Ltd.; international housing finance research sponsored by the Open Society Foundation; and, urban systems research in NYC for the Audi Urban Future Initiative. Keenan is one of the founding researchers of Kohn Pedersen Fox’s Urban Interface Laboratory.

Keenan is the co-author of NYC 2040: Housing the Next One Million New Yorkers (Columbia University Press, 2014) and is the co-editor of the forthcoming books, Blue Dunes: Climate Change by Design (Columbia University Press, 2016) and North American Climate Adaptation: Experiences, Case Studies and Best Practices (Springer, 2016). Keenan has had works published by the Wharton Real Estate Review, the Cornell Real Estate Review, Projections: MIT Journal of Urban Planning, Building Research & Information, Journal of the American Planning Association, Journal of Water and Climate Change, Journal of Affordable Housing & Community Development Law, Journal of Environmental Policy & Planning, Enquiry: Journal of Architectural Research, Social Research: an International Quarterly, Journal of Southern Legal History, Pace Environmental Law Review, the American Bar Association, Columbia University Press, Cambridge University Press,, Reuters, John Wiley & Sons and has been cited as a housing and real estate authority by national and international media, including on-air on PBS, Reuters TV, Bloomberg TV and CNBC. Keenan’s research has been covered by global media, including The New York Times, Wall Street Journal and the Discovery Network. Keenan serves on the Advisory Board of the Mori Foundation’s Global City Power Index, on the Advisory Committee of the Design First initiative of The Municipal Art Society, as a juror for Architizer's A+ Awards and was previously selected in 2012 as a ‘Thought Leader’ by the Journal of International Affairs. Keenan formerly served as a policy advisor for numerous policy-makers, including the Secretary Bill Richardson. Keenan formerly served as Managing Editor to one of Silicon Valley’s first online housing and mortgage data service providers (formerly, and began his research career working for the late Professor Charles Haar of Harvard Law School. Keenan is a Fellow of the Forum + Institute for Urban Design and was previously a Pension Real Estate Association (PREA) Scholar. Keenan holds degrees in the law (J.D., LL.M.) and science (M.Sc.) of real estate and the built environment, including a Ph.D. from the Delft University of Technology.


  • "Battling for Control," Journal of the American Planning Association. [reviewing Sonia Hirt. (2015). Zoned in the USA: the Origins and Implications of American Land Use. New York, N.Y.: Cornell University Press](Forthcoming Fall 2015).
  • "Design Meets Science in a Changing Climate: A Case for Regional Thinking to Address Urban Coastal Resilience," Social Research: An International Quarterly, 2015.
  • "Sustainability to Adaptation: A Case Study of Goldman Sach’s Corporate Real Estate Strategy," Building Research & Information, 43(6), 1-15, 2015.
  • "Establishing and Evaluating Climate Change Heuristics in Professional Leadership in the New York Metropolitan Region," Journal of Environmental Policy and Planning, doi: 10.1080/1523908X.2015.1104628, 2015.
  • "Public Enabling of Adaptation of Private Real Estate in New York City," In Rosenzweig, C. & Solecki, W. (Eds.), Climate Change and Cities. Cambridge, UK. Cambridge University Press 2015.
  • "Adaptive Capacity of Commercial Real Estate Firms to Urban Flooding New York City," Journal of Water and Climate Change, 6(3), 486-500, 2015.

  • Rotterdam City Ports Case Study, In Rosenzweig, C. & Solecki, W. (Eds.), Climate Change and Cities. Cambridge, UK. Cambridge University Press 2015.
  • "Blue Dunes: Climate Change By Design," New York, New York, GSAPP Books, Columbia University Press 2015.

  • Real Estate and Property Rights, In Min Soo Chun, A & Brisson, I.E. (Eds.), Ground Rules in Humanitarian Design (pp. 59-70). New York, New York, Wiley & Sons, Inc. 2015.
  • "666 5th Avenue: A Case Study," Center for Urban Real Estate, Columbia University 2015.
  • "Global City Power Index," (2015). Mori Institute for Urban Strategies / Mori Foundation.
  • "Beneficiaries of NYC’s 421-A Tax Exemption Program, " (Policy Brief). Center for Urban Real Estate. New York, New York, Columbia University, 2015.
  • "Principles for Climate Change Design," Washington, D.C. American Institute for Architects, 2015.
  • "Adaptive Design: Active and Passive Elements," European Climate Change Adaptation Conference, Copenhagen, DK, May 12, 2015.

  • "Climate Change Heuristics and Decision Making," European Climate Change Adaptation Conference, Copenhagen, DK, May 12, 2015.

  • "A History of the FAR Limitation Under the NY Multiple Dwelling Law," (Policy Brief). Center for Urban Real Estate.  New York, New York, Columbia University 2015.

  • "The Art & Science of Real Estate," Volume Magazine (Netherlands) December 2014.
  • "Southern Manhattan Coastal Protection Study,": Evaluating the Feasibility of a Multi-purpose Levee" (2014). City of New York, New York.

  • "Global City Power Index," (2014). Mori Institute for Urban Strategies / Mori Foundation.
  • "Adaptive Cities," 6th International Forum on Sustainable Housing (FIVS), Infonavit, Mexico City, Mexico, October 29, 2014.
  • "Climate Science and Adaptive Planning," Deltas in Times of Climate Change II, C-40, Rotterdam, NL, September 24, 2014
  • "Keeping a City-By-the-Sea from Being a City in the Sea," Reuters, July 21, 2014. 
  • "Two Birds with One Stone: Adaptation and Economic Development," In Rowe, M. (Ed.), New Ideas for New York’s New Leadership (pp. 50-54). New York, New York, Municipal Arts Society 2014.
  • "Southern Manhattan Coastal Protection Study: Evaluating the Feasibility of a Multi-Purpose Levee, " New York, New York, New York City Economic Development Corporation 2014.
  • "Material and Social Construction: A Framework for the Adaptation of Buildings," Enquiry Journal of Architectural Research, 11(1), 18-32, 2015.

  • "Surplus Capital and the Shared Economy," Storefront for Art and Architecture, April 12, 2013.
  • "The Community Recovery Playbook,": A Guide for Using Community Development Block Grants for Disaster Recovery (2013). U.S. Department of Homeland Security.
  • Global City Power Index," (2013). Mori Institute for Urban Strategies / Mori Foundation.
  • "NYC Building Resiliency Task Force Report," (2013). City of New York, New York, U.S. Green Building Council.
  • "Housing the New One Million New Yorkers.," New York, New York, GSAPP Books Columbia University Press 2013.

  • "Understanding the Role of Parking Lots in Urban Development: Interim Uses or Permanent Presence?," Center for Urban Real Estate Working Paper, Columbia University 2015.
  • "Foreclosed: Reverse Engineering," Museum of Modern Art, New York, 2011.
  • "The Browning Landscape for Green LEEDigation," ABA Real Estate Litigation, Fall 2010.
  • "Coupon Mortgage: A Construction Lender’s End Run," co-author, 8 Cornell Real Estate Review 1, July 2010.
  • "Competitive Strategies for Fighting Mortgage Fraud," ABA Real Estate Litigation, Spring 2010.
  • "Reform Property Laws," Haiti editorial, The Miami Herald, February 9, 2010.
  • "The Law and Economics of the State and Local Governments Foreclosure Response," ABA Real Estate Litigation, November 2009.
  • "A Survey of Issues Facing the Federal Coordination for the Housing and Redevelopment of the Gulf Coast, U.S.," Joint Center for Housing Studies, Harvard University W09-6, September 2009.
  • "An Evolving Federalism: Why the Federal Government Can’t Do it Alone," in "Housing Opportunities for All Georgians," University of Georgia, 2007.
  • "Chinese Real Estate Law for the Florida Lawyer," The Florida Bar Journal, Volume 81, Number 5, May 2007.
  • "America’s Trillion Dollar Housing Mistake: The Political Economy of Housing," 16 ABA Journal of Affordable Housing & Community Development Law 107, Spring 2007.
  • "The Unexpected Consequence: Real Estate Market v. Labor Market," Florida Real Estate Journal, November 2006.
  • "Tracing Georgia’s English Common Law Equity Jurisprudential Roots: Quia Timet," 13 Journal of Southern Legal History 86, Fall 2006.
  • "Real Estate Market Fundamentals in South Florida," co-author, Wharton Real Estate Review, Fall 2005.
  • "Affordable Housing Policy in Miami: Inclusionary Zoning and the Median Income Demographic," 14 ABA Journal of Affordable Housing & Community Development Law 110, Winter 2005.
  • "The Small Business Liability Relief and Brownfields Revitalization Act of 2002: Promoting a Multi-Jurisdictional Policy," 32 Pace Environmental Law Review 501, Spring 2005.
  • "Fort McPherson: From Military Base to Transit Oriented Development," co-author, Georgia Tech for the City of East Point, Georgia, Spring 2004.
  • "Green Power Pricing Plans: A Real Power Alternative?" 14 National Association of Environmental Law Societies’ Reporter 1, Winter 2003.


Ph.D., Delft University of Technology

M.Sc., Columbia University

LL.M., University of Miami

J.D., Georgia State University 

A.B., University of Georgia