Jay Hellman, PhD (bio)


Address: 1828 L Street, NW Washington, DC Email: Jay.Hellman@alum.MIT.edu Phone: (202) 841-1944

“An applied real estate thinker who lives with the future as his constant companion”
– Alan Feinberg, RA, AICP, President of East Frederick Rising, Inc.

“… developer, activist, genius.” – Washington Business Journal


Dr. Jay John Hellman holds five degrees from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology: Ph.D. (Quantitative Policy / Systems Analysis and Planning), M.S. Management (Sloan School of Management, incorporating research/education at Harvard Business School), and B.S., M.S. and E.E. degrees.

A real estate developer, trend researcher and visionary known for his leadership in understanding how buildings, towns, cities and people are being changed by computer and communications technologies, Dr. Hellman is the inventor of the term “virtual adjacency®” (registered with the US Patent and Trademark Office) to describe our increasingly internet-driven world’s changing work patterns, social structures and living conditions. He uses it to replace the somewhat outdated terms telework and telecommuting which date as far back as 1973. He is on the Advisory Board of the Telework Coalition (www.TelCoa.org)

Telecommunications technology, he predicts, will change our world physically as well as culturally in the 21st century just as the railroads changed it in the 19th century and the automobile, air travel, telephones, television and computers changed it again in the 20th.

Dr. Hellman’s work has been prominently referenced by the following:

INNOVATION, THE KEY TO PRO$PERITY: Technology & America’s Role in the 21st Century Global Economy by Maryland’s former Business & Economic Development Secretary Aris Melissaratos and technology writer N.J. Slabbert, with an introduction by former National Science Foundation Director Dr. Rita Colwell. Dr. Hellman’s work is discussed substantively in the context of leading-edge tele-technology applications (excerpt INNOVATION book: Knowledge Economy and Virtual Adjacency (Chapter 9, pages 204-217)

THE WASHINGTON POST (Embracing The Modern); (Edifice Complex: The Wrong Way to House DHS)

HARVARD INTERNATIONAL REVIEW – which has featured Dr. Hellman’s ideas in two leading articles on its web site; Technologies of Peace Harvard NJ Slabbert 2may07 and Future of Urbanization Harvard Int’l NJS

URBAN LAND, international magazine of the Urban Land Institute which has featured Dr Hellman’s work in the articles Choosing a Skyline and Telecommunities and The “Virtual Office”: Buildings/Cities/Suburbs

HOMELAND SECURITY TODAY What DHS Needs: A Network not a Fortress; Out Of Sight, Out Of Mind And Out Of The Loop

WASHINGTON BUSINESS JOURNALDepartment of Homeland Security plan flawed and Jay Hellman: The accidental developer, by Douglas Fruehling, editor

GEORGE MASON UNIVERSITY Remaking the DHS GMU Prof Addleson HQ strategy

COMMLAW CONSPECTUS: THE JOURNAL OF COMMUNICATIONS LAW AND POLICY Virtual Adjacency and the Meaning of “Place” , VirtAdj CommLaw 13mar08r ppt

NATIONAL PUBLIC RADIO (Healthy Sustainable Communities);

• The books THE TELECOMMUNICATIONS CHALLENGE: CHANGING TECHNOLOGIES AND EVOLVING POLICIES (2006), and ENHANCING PRODUCTIVITY GROWTH IN THE INFORMATION AGE (2007), both by Dr. Charles W. Wessner, Director of the National Research Council’s Program on Technology and Competitiveness (publisher: National Academies Press, joint publishing arm of the National Academy of Sciences, National Academy of Engineering, Institute of Medicine, and National Research Council). Dr. Wessner, who lectures frequently on international technology policy and high-technology trade at Harvard and other universities, has cited Dr. Hellman’s focus on:

• the relationship between transportation and communication — The Hellman Transform;

• the analogy between office buildings and computers;

• the insight that office buildings evolved as a tool for what was then a new kind of work, namely processing and communicating information, based on the paradigm of paper-based manual labor;

• the recognition that while it has long been a familiar fact that location is of paramount importance in real estate, it is less widely understood that technology defines location, and until the advent of computers and online connectivity the most important technology (in this context) has been transportation.

Dr. Hellman’s published statements of his virtual adjacency concepts include VIRTUAL ADJACENCY AND THE MEANING OF PLACE, the leading paper in the Spring 2008 edition of COMMLAW CONSPECTUS, and PRIVACY AND INFORMATION SYSTEMS: AN ARGUMENT AND AN IMPLEMENTATION (The RAND Corporation). The former is based on Dr Hellman’s opening address to the March 2008 symposium on national telecommunications policy held by the Institute for Communications Law Studies at Catholic University of America’s Columbus School of Law in association with the Federal Communications Bar Association, (webcast and slides viewable online at www.VirtualAdjacency.com )

“Physical consolidation is the problem. Virtual consolidation is the solution, the effective implementation of which requires an astute use of technologically-informed local vision planning.

This blend of technological education and systematic local vision planning is essential to guide environmentally and economically effective land-use and wisely-managed infrastructure development in the information age. A failure to combine these requisites condemns local communities to be governed by outdated assumptions which sooner or later cost them dearly, in both money and quality of life.

— J.J. Hellman

BACKGROUND: As a student and a researcher at MIT, Dr. Hellman was inspired by the ideas of one of America’s pioneering computer scientists, Jay Forrester, who applied engineering principles to the analysis of social organizations, paving the way for the discipline now called System Dynamics. Dr. Hellman similarly developed a holistic, multidisciplinary approach to real estate research and development based on the study of evolving computer and telecommunications technologies, focusing on how these changes affect the nature of work, the physical character of buildings and patterns of land use. He foresaw the personal computer and began researching its effects on real estate before it was invented. A theme of his work is taking derelict or unexploited sites, and applying technological research to develop them for high profit combined with positive environmental impact.

On leaving MIT, Dr. Hellman became Vice President at Boston Financial Technology Group (Paine Webber’s real estate investment banking arm) providing equity capital for the development of multi-family housing projects and office buildings across the US. Two years later he moved to Washington DC to become Executive Vice President of Swesnik & Blum Realty Corp., a real estate development and management company, where he was responsible for developing three major downtown office buildings. Two years later he left to start The Hellman Company, inc.

His first development milestone was the Lafayette Centre project – a million-square-foot project comprising five buildings (four of which are now built). The anchor tenant of One Lafayette Centre was AT&T corporation, the largest telecom company in the world at that time (1978: pre break-up.) To implement a better urban plan for this this project, Dr. Hellman successfully changed Washington DC’s zoning laws, creating the One-Step Planned Unit Development (PUD), a methodology that more than 30 projects used in the following decade. (It allows greater project design flexibility than rigid linear math zoning laws do.) Here Dr. Hellman achieved a significantly better window-to-area ratio than normal, and dramatically improved view quality from over 75% of the windows (just look at the photo of the “back alley” at the bottom of the Home Page www.VirtualAdjacency.com).

Dr. Hellman then realized he was going to have to re-think the office building development business. It was clear to him that the computer was going to transform office work just as the tractor had transformed agriculture. The first major application of his “office building of the future” research came in 1982 when he brought Sears, Roebuck and Co., the largest retailer in the world at the time, a prestigious national presence at 633 Pennsylvania Avenue, Washington DC. This project, located on the street whose most famous address is the White House, helped catalyze the work of the Pennsylvania Avenue Development Corporation by bringing the city’s east end alive post 1968 race riots. Here, Dr. Hellman transformed a building which, in spite of being an historical landmark, was derelict because others had been unable to see its potential.

The same line of thinking led to one of Dr. Hellman’s most important accomplishments in 2004 when the National Association of Realtors, the US’s biggest real estate trade organization, opened its new $45 million flagship Washington DC offices at 500 New Jersey Avenue, a short distance from the grounds of the US Capitol. For years skeptics had dismissed this site, an exceptionally prominent vacant lot in the heart of the metropolis, as undevelopable due to its small size and narrow, unusual shape. Dr. Hellman’s proprietary research convinced him otherwise. He assembled the site, formed an expert team to prove its viability as the site of a landmark new tower, won unprecedented zoning variances for it and brought it to the NAR.

Choosing a Skyline – How intelligently are we recognizing urban context as a feature of environmental responsibility? 500NJ NAR Design ULI Nov-Dec05.pdf

Dr. Hellman has also developed three residential communities: Seneca Chase (131 homes) and Nestoria (57 homes) in Loudoun County, Virginia, and Streamview (198 homes) in Charles County, Maryland. He has transformed a vacant warehouse just 12 blocks north of the US Capitol into the most elegant nightclub / entertainment venue in Washington DC (Fur Nightclub at 33 Patterson Street, NE). In a rundown industrial area, he transformed an old automotive warehouse into a high-tech regional bakery for Dunkin Donuts. He spent years helping to revitalize the Georgia Avenue corridor / Park View / Petworth neighborhood in Washington, DC and he is at the rule-re-writing implementation stage applying his innovative ideas to the Woodmont Triangle neighborhood in Bethesda, MD. His goal is to demonstrate how to grow a Metro-rail served urban area in a Smart Growth TOD manner without destroying it at the same time. In 2006 Dr. Hellman invented new zoning for Prince George’s County in order to develop the Townhomes at Broad Creek in Fort Washington, immediately north of the Broad Creek Historic District.

A major focus of his work has been reinventing the small town in the age of the computer. He is currently research advisor and managing partner to a visionary project (500 acres of land already assembled) to transform the town of La Plata, Maryland from a “bedroom community” into America’s first urban telecommunity — THE HUB at CSM/La Plata. In this model urban development of tomorrow, it is envisaged that many residents will not leave their neighborhood every day to go to work but will remain in La Plata while working “virtually” in Washington DC or elsewhere, linked 24/7 by fiberoptic internet, making desktop video-collaboration a ubiquitous reality (PLEASE VISIT www.VirtualAdjacency-VisionPlanning-Telecommunity.com.)

Telecommunities – La Plata, Maryland, could be transformed into a prototype of America’s new telecommunity. ULI_Telecommunities.pdf

APPLICATIONS: While Dr. Hellman’s main “laboratory” has been the Washington DC metropolitan area and its surrounds, his research is universal in scope and applicability. His ideas overlap with, and in some cases have anticipated, important new directions in contemporary management theory, productivity studies, government studies, urban planning, environmental studies, sociology, design ethics and architecture. He has guest-lectured at venues including George Mason University Center for Regional Analysis / Institute of Public Policy, Howard University School of Law, Catholic University School of Law, the Urban Land Institute, Catholic University School of Architecture, the University of the District of Columbia, the Delaware Graduate Realtors Institute, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and telecom industry association conventions OPASTCO and VTIA. His audiences and users of his ideas have included real estate professionals in Europe whom he’s lectured for the Belgian Government; one of America’s top research think-tanks (the RAND Corporation); Fortune 500 companies; foreign governments; and law firms requiring expert witness testimony to fight important real estate cases.

In 1996, then Majority Leader in the United States House of Representatives, Congressman Steny Hoyer (MD) was so impressed with the excitement generated in Congress about Dr. Hellman’s ideas on reinventing the city in the age of the computer that he sent a dossier on Dr. Hellman to the White House to guide the nation’s top leadership in efficiently and effectively “reinventing government”.

* Here is the transmittal letter: Hoyer_ltr_to_WhiteHouse

* Here is the Executive Summary of the dossier: Gore SEC Virt Adj CvrLtr

Cong. Hoyer first began working with Dr. Hellman on these ideas in 1990.  This letter to him Nov. 14, 1991 from Scott Rowan, then Director of the Southern Maryland Regional Technology Council communicates a message that is long overdue!  RowantoHoyerCBIVirtAdjDemoLtr

Dr. Hellman now keeps law-makers in both the Republican and Democratic parties abreast of his research regularly through private briefings.

Dr. Hellman chairs a real estate research and project development firm, The Hellman Company, inc., which, since 1980, has been a leader in relating the evolution of computer and communication technology to the real estate development objectives of major organizations. He has helped blue-chip clients to leverage off his multidisciplinary background and his ability to bring high-tech, financial, holistic urban planning, architectural, engineering and financial methodologies into profitable synergy.

AVAILABILITY: Dr. Hellman will consider performing selected research and advisory tasks for clients engaged in significant real estate development and/or urban planning projects. His inputs could include speaking engagements in or outside the US; conducting specially-designed private seminars for senior executives and professionals; reviewing proposed projects and assessing their technological, environmental and other areas of opportunity and risk; providing data and/or expert commentary for inclusion in a private project presentation or motivation; or the creation of private strategic reports for clients on agreed topics.