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In Memoriam
Professor Emeritus Harold Bell

Hank bell
From left: MSRED Program Director and Associate Professor Patrice Derrington; Stephen Glascock ‘91 MSRED; and Professor Emeritus Harold “Hank” Bell
June 10, 2021

Columbia GSAPP sadly shares the loss of Professor Emeritus Harold “Hank” Bell, who passed away on May 26, 2021, at the age of 94. Bell graduated from the City College of New York and led a successful career in real estate development before teaching at GSAPP. His numerous accomplishments include the founding of Modular Communities, Inc. in the late 1960s, a company that imported and improved modular housing technology.

When Bell began teaching at Columbia GSAPP in 1968, his focus shifted to improving urban environments in the United States and globally. His many accolades during this time include being selected by the National Academy of Sciences Research Advisory Board to be the Chairman of the American delegation for the exchange of housing technology between the United States and the USSR. Bell’s students remember him for often sharing the advice, “Never buy a property until you have spent 24 hours there.” Most recently, he taught the course Real Estate Entrepreneurialism during the Fall 2021 semester, which aimed to “provide students with the know-hows to materialize their visions.” The “Hank Bell Entrepreneurial Award” is awarded to students in the MSRED program on an annual basis for the student that best embodies Bell’s entrepreneurial spirit. He is remembered as a dedicated professor and will be greatly missed. We offer our condolences to the children of Bell and his wife Bobby Bell, his partner of 68 years who died in 2017, which include Lawrence Bell (Janet), Robin Bell (Thomas Kalb), and Leonard Bell (Linda), and their grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

More Information

Watch a presentation by Bell for the “Reflections on 25 Years in Real Estate: Density, Sustainability, and Global Finance” symposium hosted at Columbia GSAPP on November 12, 2011.

Obituary in Martha’s Vineyard Times.