Korydon Smith, EdD

Professor, Chair - Department of Architecture
khsmith@buffalo.edu - 127 Hayes Hall - (716) 829-5908

Professor, Chair - Department of Architecture

Korydon Smith

Korydon Smith says his most exciting teaching moments are when students transform struggles into breakthroughs.

Korydon Smith, professor and chair of architecture at UB and co-director of UB's Community for Global Health Equity (CGHE), works at the boundaries of the field, where opportunities exist to challenge convention and make unexpected connections. Applying dual training in architecture and higher education leadership, he works across disciplines - from planning to anthropology - to build design solutions for those who have been traditionally marginalized or excluded from decisions about the design of their built environment.

Smith’s educational philosophy is highly collaborative, advising thesis projects on the design of refugee settlements and housing for homeless populations, and working intensively with students through exploratory learning and team-based problem-solving. He finds that the most exciting moments are with first year undergraduates, when “struggles transform into breakthroughs, successes, and confidence.”

He joined UB's architecture faculty in 2012 from the University of Arkansas, where he served 11 years as professor in its Fay Jones School of Architecture and Design. He has taught a wide range of undergraduate, graduate, and doctoral courses in architectural design, theory, and research methods, as well as study abroad in four countries. He is frequently consulted by architecture firms, municipalities, universities, and non-government organizations on the design of buildings, processes, and policies related to design for people with disabilities and other populations.

While Smith's research has taken him to locations around the globe, he draws upon his roots in rural and impoverished Chautauqua County in Western New York. Reflecting on his experience working on farms, in car repair shops and on demolition and road construction projects, Smith says: "Rural life builds an array of skills useful in architectural design – tenacity, resource-constrained innovation, technical know-how, and attunement to the sensory environment.”

An acclaimed scholar and respected academic leader, Smith was appointed chair of the department in 2018. He served as the school’s associate dean for academic affairs from 2014 to 2018. In his spare time, Smith plays guitar in a band with his wife, whose vocals, in his opinion, “far exceed” his guitar picking.

Seldom have we asked: How do we design a bus system from the perspective of single mothers? How do we design housing from the standpoint of refugees, older adults, or people with disabilities?

 - Korydon Smith

Recent News

11/1/18

Harkening in a new era of co-leadership for UB's Department of Architecture are chair Korydon Smith and associate chair Joyce Hwang.

8/15/18
A multidisciplinary group of students will receive funding for a pilot program that will bring farmers in rural India together to share and learn advanced techniques, have increased access to land, and connect with established support organizations.
6/14/18

The documentary short produced by the School of Architecture and Planning for the Time Space Existence exhibition in Venice offers a poetic visual experience of the city’s urban context and the school’s complex relationship to it over the past five decades.

9/19/17
It was show-and-tell time for UB’s Communities of Excellence last week as members of the research institutes that have been impacting our world for the past two years gathered for their annual progress review.

Education

  • Ed.D.(higher education leadership), University of Arkansas 
  • M.Arch. (architectural theory and design), the University at Buffalo

Selected activities, honors and awards

  • Gary Day Outstanding Teacher Award, Graduate Student Association, Department of Architecture, University at Buffalo (2014)
  • Global Awards for Excellence in Urban Design, Congress for New Urbanism (2013), for housing design for Kigali, Rwanda, “Building Neighborhoods that Build Social and Economic Prosperity: Manual for a Complete Neighborhood,” [Stephen Luoni and Jeffrey Huber (manual authors), and Korydon Smith, Peter Rich, and Tomà Berlanda (project organizers and research team)]. 
  • Collaborative Practice Award, Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture (ACSA) (2012-13), for housing design for Kigali, Rwanda, “Building Neighborhoods that Build Social and Economic Prosperity: Manual for a Complete Neighborhood”
Kigali, Rwanda is a city surrounded by low rise housing in a lush, green environment

Korydon Smith's recent book, "Interpreting Kigali, Rwanda," explores how to plan, design, and construct healthy, equitable, and sustainable neighborhoods amidst the complex challenges of informal settlements and the aspirational goals of African nations. 

Research

Smith pursues innovative solutions in planning and design in support of diversity and social justice – seeking to improve the health, happiness, and wellbeing of marginalized, underrepresented, and vulnerable populations. At the University of Arkansas he carried out applied research in public policy and design with a focus on housing, including both domestic work and scholarship abroad. His current work focuses on refugee housing and settlement planning. Smith's research has taken him across the rural South (U.S.) and around the globe, including Rwanda, Uganda, India, and Costa Rica. 

Smith says the historic pattern in the design and planning of buildings, towns and cities has been by and for those with economic or political power (or both). This includes how decisions are made about the location of schools, roads, parks, and housing, as well as the design – materials, spaces, amenities, etc. – of these places. Says Smith, "Seldom have we asked: How do we design a bus system from the perspective of single mothers? How do we design markets from the standpoint of children? How do we design housing from the standpoint of refugees, older adults, or people with disabilities?" 

He is the author/editor of six books, including three with Routledge: Incclusive Design: Implementation and  Evaluation (2018), Diversity and Design: Understanding Hidden Consequences (2015), and Introducing Architectural Theory: Debating a Discipline (2012). His most recent work is Interpreting Kigali, Rwanda: Architectural Inquiries and Prospects for a Developing African City (2018). He has earned seven awards for outstanding teaching and research, and the work of his students has received international recognition, such as an Assocation for Collegiate Schools of Architecture Collaborative Practice Award.

Featured Project

Interpreting Kigali, Rwanda: Architectural  Inquiries and Prospects for a Developing African City
by Korydon Smith and Tomà Berlanda
The University of Arkansas Press, 2018

Cover of the Planners Guide to Community and Regional Food Planning: Transforming Food Environments, Building Health Communities

Interpreting Kigali, Rwanda by Smith and Tomà Berlanda explores the pressing challenges and opportunities to be found in planning, designing, and constructing a healthy, equitable and sustainable city. Asking “what is an authentic-yet-modern, prosperous-yet-feasible African city, Rwandan city?” Smith, Berlanda and colleagues conducted research on Rwandan activities of daily living and how these routines are connected to space-making practices and the Kinyarwanda terms that describe them.