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Marshall Bennett Institute of Real Estate

Marshall Bennett, Co-Founder


Marshall Marshall Bennett, president, Marshall Bennett Enterprises, is a visionary in real estate development and one of the inventors of the modern industrial park. He co-founded the Marshall Bennett Institute of Real Estate, along with Gerald Fogelson and Tony Pasquinelli, among others, at Roosevelt University in 2002. The Institute is dedicated to fostering education and innovation in real estate through business, social responsibility and community development.

Born in 1921 on the south side of Chicago, Bennett has had a life-long commitment to philanthropy in the arts, medicine, culture, and diplomacy and has supported both civic and global endeavors including the Clinton Foundation; the East-West Institute; the Weizmann Institute and the Albert Einstein Peace Prize Foundation.

Bennett is considered a pioneer in real estate, having been one of the most productive corporate and industrial real estate developers of the postwar period as co-founder and partner of Bennett & Kahnweiler. He is also considered to be one of the most influential people in building relationships that promote large real estate transactions in the U.S. as demonstrated by the Marshall Bennett Classic, an exclusive annual round-table type gathering of top real estate industry professionals who share ideas, trends and insights.

Bennett received his BA degree from University of Chicago. He then attended the Wharton School of Business and Finance in Philadelphia for a year in the M.B.A. Program. And later, he attended graduate studies at the University of Chicago.

After serving in the Navy and a brief stint with Hart and Whetson, Bennett formed a partnership with friend Louis Kahnweiler, known as the firm Bennett & Kahnweiler in 1949. 

Bennett and Kahnweiler (now part of Colliers International) became one of Chicago's oldest corporate real estate firms with broad-based expertise in industrial and office brokerage, development, investment and consulting. The team’s first comprehensive planned industrial district was O’Hare Industrial Park in 1954.  Recognizing the value and potential of the surrounding area, Bennett discovered Centex (for Central Texas) Construction Company which was looking to buy property.

Backed partially by funding by longtime friend Jay Pritzker, the companies created the 2,200 acre Centex Industrial Park in Elk Grove Village in 1957 through 1973.

Bennett & Kahnweiler went on to develop more than 26 state-of-the-art industrial and office parks in Denver, St. Louis, Milwaukee, San Francisco, Atlanta, Southern California, Georgia, Masachusetts as well as many other major sites in Chicago.

In addition to his work in real estate, Marshall Bennett has had a significant impact in the fields of medicine, science, the arts and global initiatives.

His work includes his service as a Life Trustee of the Northshore Medical Group (formerly Evanston Northwestern Healthcare System) where he founded the Arlene and Marshall Bennett Chair in Neurosurgery.

Other donations include the Arlene & Marshall Bennett Research Laboratory in Adolescent Psychiatry, Michael Reese Hospital and the Bennett/Pritzker Department of Women’s Health, Weizmann Institute, Rehovot, Israel.

He is a Trustee on the Weizmann Institute, Rehovot Israel and has served as Chairman of the Chicago Chapter.  He has served as director for the East-West Institute, an international non-profit organization focusing on international conflict resolution and has worked with the Clinton Foundation.

A longtime supporter of the arts, he is  a Life Trustee of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra where he established the Principal Second Chair, Violin Chicago Symphony Orchestra; and the Ravinia Festival Association, where he co-established the Bennett Gordon Concert Hall for student performances.

Awards include:

  • Urban Land Institute Lifetime Achievement Award, University of Chicago - 2008
  • Lifetime Achievement Award, National Association of Industrial/Office Parks
  • Hall of Fame Award – Chicago Board of Realtors – 1989
  • Torch of Hope Award, Albert Einstein Peace Prize Foundation - 1984
  • "Man of the Year" by the National Association of Industrial and Office Properties – 1979
  • Honorary Chairman, Alexian Brothers Hospital
  • Honorary Member, Lamda Alpha National Land Economic Society
  • Honorary Director, Bank of Highland Park
  • Co-Chairman, National Football League Players Banquet, 1982, ‘83 and ‘85

On April 3, 2014, Roosevelt University will debut “Lifescape: A Video Portrait of Marshall Bennett” at the school’s Heller College of Business and the Marshall Bennett Institute of Real Estate, (MBIRE) Wabash Building, 425 S. Wabash, Chicago. The installation will be open to students, faculty and the general public beginning April 4.

The installation was produced by Bennett’s daughter, author Bija Bennett, and features a film directed by noted video artist Lincoln Schatz with music recorded by cellist Ken Olsen of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra.