Buffalo is headed to Venice

School of Architecture and Planning will tell Buffalo’s story of place at exhibit held in conjunction with 2018 Venice Architecture Biennale

The School of Architecture and Planning is among an elite group of academic institutions invited to participate in the “Time Space Existence” exhibition organized by the European Cultural Center and sponsored by the Global Arts Affairs Foundation. The exhibit is being held in conjunction with the 2018 Venice Architecture Biennale. Photo of Palazzo Bembo, where the school's exhibit will be installed, by Frank Kovalchek from Braine le Comte, Belgium | [CC BY 2.0, source file]

The School of Architecture and Planning is among an elite group of academic institutions invited to participate in the “Time Space Existence” exhibition organized by the European Cultural Center and sponsored by the Global Arts Affairs Foundation. The exhibit is being held in conjunction with the 2018 Venice Architecture Biennale. Photo of Palazzo Bembo, where the school's exhibit will be installed, by Frank Kovalchek from Braine le Comte, Belgium | [CC BY 2.0source file]

By Rachel Teaman

Published February 9, 2018

For more than five decades, Buffalo has inspired and situated the teachings and research of UB’s School of Architecture and Planning. In creative exchange, the experiments of its students and faculty – built works, mobilized plans, bold ideas – have woven new dimensions into the fabric of the city.

Now the school is taking Buffalo’s story of place – and our place within it – all the way to Venice as part of an international exhibit organized in conjunction with the 2018 Venice Architecture Biennale. Widely regarded as the premier global forum for architecture and design, the Biennale turns Venice into a city-wide exhibit on the latest thinking in the discipline, drawing more than 300,000 visitors over the course of the six-month event.

Recognized for rooting design and planning education in research and intensive engagement with its host region, the School of Architecture and Planning is among an elite group of 32 international academic institutions invited to participate in the “Time Space Existence” exhibition organized by the European Cultural Center and sponsored by the Global Arts Affairs Foundation. The exhibition brings together the academy and architecture and design professionals to provoke conversation on the most pressing challenges facing the discipline today. Time Space Existence runs in concert with the Biennale, from May 26 – Nov. 25, 2018.  

“This is a singular opportunity to put Buffalo and our school on the global stage of architecture and design,” says Dean Robert G. Shibley, widely renowned for his work on planning efforts that today underpin the city’s resurgence.

“Buffalo holds an important place among the world’s greatest cities for architecture and urban design. And its influence – both the tangible and unseen – comes to life in the imaginations of our students, faculty, and even alumni who carry the city with them into every corner of the world.”

The school has chosen the medium of film for its exhibit, stitching together a story of school and city through the sights and sounds of Buffalo and students at work on campus and in the community. Gregory Delaney, clinical assistant professor architecture with a focus in urban design and architectural history, will serve as co-curator with architecture professor and associate dean Korydon Smith. 

The school will collaborate with local filmmaker John Paget to produce the film. Paget’s documentary-style films on Buffalo and its architecture have gained national acclaim. An exhibition catalog of faculty and student reflections on the city as context to their work will complement the film.

Students and faculty will be involved in the production, curation and installation of the exhibit as well as workshops and a study abroad program hosted in Venice during the biennale. Viewings of the exhibit in Buffalo are planned after the close of the biennale.

"For us, it's the full arc of Buffalo's history and the complexity of its current character—in rise and ruin, rust and revival—that shape us," says Delaney. "We, in turn, get to play a small role in shaping the city, from research studios and design-build interventions to large-scale master plans and partnerships with local agencies and industries. The collaboration with John Paget and the medium of documentary film give us the opportunity to share the experience of our school and city with Venice and the visitors to this year's Biennale."

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The school’s intimate relationship with Buffalo dates back to the school’s founding in the late 1960s. It was the city’s grain elevators that inspired UB architecture faculty member Peter Reyner Banham to write A Concrete Atlantis on industrial architecture in America and Europe. And it was planning students in the mid-1980s who started conceiving of Buffalo’s downtown as a neighborhood and hosted city-wide conversations on a new planning framework that continues to emerge today.

Much of the school’s internationally-significant work has its roots in Buffalo. Recent developments include experiments in design with terra cotta, sheet metal and concrete with local industry; construction of a nationally award-winning zero-energy housing prototype; and the design of food system plans now being implemented in communities around the world.

The community is invited to follow the school's preparations for and journey to Venice on Instagram (@BuffaloArchPlan, #BuffaloInVenice).