Edward Steinfeld, ArchD, AIA

SUNY Distinguished Professor - Department of Architecture
arced@buffalo.edu - 225A Hayes Hall - (716) 829-5899

SUNY Distinguished Professor - Department of Architecture

Ed Steinfeld examining a wood model with a student.

Ed Steinfeld (left)

Edward Steinfeld, ArchD, AIA, is a passionate thought leader who believes architecture should, first and foremost, benefit the people who use buildings and make a positive contribution to the community.

He’s been a trailblazer in the field of inclusive design since the 1970’s when he led a transformational research project that established the first evidence base for accessibility standards.

In his 50-year career, Steinfeld has done award-winning research, taught thousands of students, designed many buildings, served as an expert consultant, and mentored numerous colleagues who are very successful in their own right. When he founded the IDeA Center in 1984, he believed that inclusive design was a critical component of a socially sustainable community and thus committed his career to building a leading center for research and practice in this field. 

Far from being complacent, he continues to generate new ideas for extending the frontier of knowledge in this field. Although he is sometimes consumed by his work, he finds the time to be a devoted husband, father and grandfather. He is the epitome of high energy. When he is not working, you will find Ed swimming, biking, kayaking, and strumming his guitar. Sometimes even his grandchildren and colleagues struggle to keep up with him.

The need for inclusive design is growing; it plays a key role in solving social problems like homelessness, access to health care, ageism, ableism and gender discrimination.

 - Ed Steinfeld 

Recent news

Universal design has long been embraced by businesses eager to create safer, healthier and more supportive facilities for their employees and visitors, regardless of age or ability. The challenge for many is how.

Research by the IDeA Center on accessible public transit is making its way onto the region's buses - and informing national transportation standards.


A UB-Habitat for Humanity pilot project aims to incorporate universal design principles into home renovation and construction.


Interviewed prominently on curbed.com, Prof. Edward Steinfeld reflected on the past 25 years after the American with Disabilities Act passage.

Media mentions


This studio will be about design for creativity and entrepreneurism. It will explore the creation of a student oriented small business incubator for UB. Three sites will be studied, one on each of the three campuses. The project will include research and analysis, visioning exercises, space programming and building design. UB’s Capital Planning Group and other university units will participate. 
This course will provide experience in the use of key tools for the implementation of universal design. The course will focus on a certification program for universal design of buildings developed by the IDeA Center: Innovative Solutions for Universal Design, or isUD. 
This course will explore how mass media communicate ideas, attitudes and values about the built environment to the public. Human experience and perceptions are documented and communicated in mass media, particularly those incorporating moving images. 
This course will explore universal design in practice through a case study method. The instructor will present case studies from design practice, research and service activities, much of which has been conducted at the IDEA Center over the last 20 years. Guest lectures will be included from IDEA Center staff and UB faculty. Site visits will include visits to projects in the Buffalo area and Pittsburgh. 
This course will explore how mass media communicate ideas, attitudes and values about the built environment to the public. Human experience and perceptions are documented and communicated in mass media, particularly those incorporating moving images. Examples are the portrayal of the university as an “ivory tower,” a placed for “coming of age” or a setting for the practice of “weird science”. 
This studio will explore the idea of mixing different uses in one building to produce a living, working and leisure environment that supports mind-body balance. 


  • University of Michigan (ArchD)
  • Carnegie Mellon University (Bachelor of Architecture)

Selected activities, honors and awards

In 2003, Steinfeld received a Distinguished Professor Award from the Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture. He has also received awards from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Industrial Design Society of America (IDSA), and Progressive Architecture. He received a Ron Mace Designing for the 21st Century Award. In 2010 he was awarded the University at Buffalo's second annual Presidential Award for Faculty Excellence. In 2012 he was awarded the rank of Distinguished SUNY Professor, the highest rank for faculty in the SUNY system.



Ed Steinfeld demonstrates an accessible bathroom to students.

Steinfeld says the power of design and architecture lies in its potential to create something meaningful to people. But, traditional practice often neglects many issues of importance to those who use buildings and community infrastructure. "Early on in my career I learned that, compared to traditional practice, I could have a greater impact by doing research that changed fundamental practices in architecture." His research focuses on empowering all citizens with enabling, healthy and sociable environments. 

A prolific and nationally award-winning scholar, Steinfeld has an extensive record of sponsored research, including funding from  National Institute on Disability Independent Living and Rehabilitation Research (NIDRR), the National Endowment for the Arts and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. The IDeA Center is one of the oldest and most successful research centers at UB with over 30 years of continuous funding. It is a model for interdisciplinary work. Not only is the center home to two center of excellence grants but also provides unique services to the WNY community and the design professions. The center’s scope of work now extends beyond architecture to community planning, product design and service design.

Steinfeld has over 100 publications and three patents. Many of his publications are considered key references in the fields of accessible and universal design; he was four books, Inclusive Housing: A Pattern Book (W.W. Norton), Universal Design: Creating Inclusive Environments (Wiley), Accessible Public Transportation (Routledge) and Inclusive Design: Implementation and Evaluation (Routledge). He is internationally known for his research and has traveled widely to lecture in many countries.

His current work includes development of a certification system for universal design (isUDTM), design of automated vehicles, development of inclusive wayfinding systems for buildings and expert witness testimony on accessibility and falls in buildings. 

Steinfeld is a frequent consultant to federal and state agencies, building owners, and attorneys. He has been a licensed architect in New York since 1978 and designed several constructed buildings, including interiors for retail, office and religious buildings, two multifamily housing projects, a group home, a vacation home and home renovations and additions.