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Learn by Doing

Architects and planners design physical environments and systems with which people interact every day. Direct, tangible engagement with this “material” – whether it be structural steel, streetscapes or citizen activists – is fundamental to the aspiring architect or planner. 

This learn-by-doing approach to professional education is the crux of the Buffalo School program. From the studio to the community, students and faculty at the School of Architecture and Planning constantly “do” and “make” through applied research, built works and creative activities. Here in Buffalo, design inquiry becomes design-build while planning concepts become adopted plans for neighborhoods and regions.

Gain technical know-how and a spirit of enterprise that sets you on course for innovation.


A group of architecture students have turned material convention on its head by transforming mounds of paper waste into rigid columns, canopies and enclosures.

Countless hours of designing, building, fine-tuning and fundraising over the past two and a half years have paid off for the more than 200 University at Buffalo students and faculty members who worked on the GRoW Home.

Imagine redesigning a city in only 2 days. That’s exactly what American and Estonian students did recently as part of a summer study abroad program in Estonia under the direction of urban and regional planning faculty member Daniel B. Hess.


An effort to engage School of Architecture and Planning faculty and students in finishing their newly renovated home in UB's Hayes Hall has yielded architectural innovation in perhaps the most functional and mundane of spaces - the mailroom.

Situated within the resurging City of Buffalo and its surrounding binational region, we partner with local industries, firms, designers, planners, governments, and an active grassroots movement to test and advance ideas. Our study abroad program puts students face-to-face with the people and landscapes of seven countries across three continents. With a fully-equipped fabrication shop and materials shop available right on campus, the School of Architecture and Planning makes digital and physical modeling easily accessible to students in all programs.

Our research-to-practice partnerships put students in the heart of Buffalo’s food movement to improve health and nutrition, on the factory floor of an architectural terra cotta manufacturer to explore new fabrication techniques, and on the coastline of Costa Rica to develop sustainable water distribution systems. Students have built a 22-foot-tall steel tower and bee habitat in Buffalo, proposed landscape designs for a public park on the city’s Lake Erie harbor, and developed accessible bus designs for national implementation.

Such hands-on engagement and critical practice within our local and global communities cultivate core skills for todays rapidly changing professions — entrepreneurial and design activist sensibilities, collaborative agility, leadership and client relations, and facility with technology and full-scale planning, design, and construction.