Buffalo Development Leader Honored with 2015 Dean’s Medal

State economic development leader noted for contributions to revitalization of Buffalo Niagara as a model for legacy cities

Published May 12, 2015

The School of Architecture and Planning has announced that Howard Zemsky, the Buffalo developer turned state economic development leader, will receive the 2015 Dean's Medal in recognition of his contributions to the revitalization of the Buffalo Niagara region.

Howard Zemsky

Dean Robert Shibley will present Zemsky with the award at the school's commencement ceremony on Friday, May 15, 2015, where Zemsky will also address graduates as this year's commencement speaker. 

Since 2011, Zemsky has served as co-chair of the Western New York Regional Economic Development Council, engaging thousands of regional citizens in envisioning a more sustainable regional economy and building an award-winning strategic plan. In this role, he has also worked closely on the Governor's Buffalo Billion revitalization initiative.

In January of this year, Governor Andrew M. Cuomo nominated Howard Zemsky to serve as president & CEO of Empire State Development, the state's economic development agency, as well as commissioner of the New York State Department of Economic Development. As head of ESD, Zemsky now implements Regional Economic Development Councils statewide in support of the governor's decentralized, collaborative model for econmoic development. 

His company, Larkin Development Group, has redeveloped approximately 1 million square feet of historic building space in Buffalo since 2002, with a particular focus on reclaiming Buffalo’s earliest industrial neighborhood, the Larkin Historic District.

Shibley says Zemsky's leadership demonstrates a true commitment to the Buffalo Niagara region and legacy city-regions like it.

"Consider the foundation of the region’s award-winning economic development plan in an aggressively inclusive and democratic planning process and the principle that the region’s best strategy for the future is building on its existing assets and strengths," he said. "That work has brought to Buffalo Niagara hundreds of millions in new private and public investment and thousands of jobs, and catalyzed a spirit of innovation and entrepreneurism.

Ultimately, this work is modeling recovery strategies for legacy cities across the state and throughout the United States," Shibley continued. 

In recent years, Zemsky has chaired Western New York’s Transportation Authority and SUNY Buffalo State and has served as President of the Richardson Center Corporation, a non-profit board charged with rehabilitation of the Richardson and Olmsted designed former NY State Psychiatric Hospital.

Established by Dean Emeritus Harold Cohen, the School of Architecture and Planning Dean's Medal recognizes individuals who have made distinguished contributions to our professions, region and world through leadership, teaching, research or creative activities. It is the highest honor bestowed by the school. Past recipients include such notable figures as architect-scholars “Bucky” Fuller and Magda Cordell McHale, environmental leader Bill McKibben, and artists and landscape architect Walter Hood.