Live and Study in a Global City

See how Buffalo is building an urban renaissance around its waterfront location, legacy of world-class urban design and architecture and vibrant, walkable neighborhoods.

A great school of architecture and planning relies on a great city for its inspiration. From internationally celebrated buildings and parks and a bustling Lake Erie waterfront to lively urban neighborhoods and a vibrant immigrant community, Buffalo offers the aspiring architect or planner an ideal setting for living and learning.


Dean Robert Shibley argues that Buffalo’s character is directly attributable to the fundamental relationships among our waters, our radial and grid street plan and our park system.

Buffalo sits on the U.S.-Canadian border, on the edge of Lake Erie and just south of Niagara Falls, providing the region an abundance of natural resources and economic advantage, today and throughout the region’s history. As the terminus of the Erie Canal, Buffalo was once one of the nation’s largest ports and remains a symbolic connection between east and west.

Buffalo’s period of great wealth brought master architects Frank Lloyd Wright, Louis Sullivan, H.H. Richardson, and Daniel Burnham to the city to design some of their most important buildings. Wright’s Martin House and Sullivan’s Guaranty Building, in particular, have inspired generations of architects worldwide. Frederick Law Olmsted, designer of New York’s Central Park, laid out Buffalo’s network of parks and parkways. Buffalo is also home to the works of Louise Bethune, revered as “America’s first woman architect,” as well as a world-class collection of artworks and heritage sites. 

In the midst of an urban renaissance, Buffalo is again a center of progressive planning and design – a distinction that has much to do with our students and faculty. The School of Architecture and Planning engages the city, its buildings, landscapes, industries and communities as labs for research, experimentation, and intervention, and is a primary contributor to the region in everything from climate-related planning to industry-applied design technologies.


Two architecture faculty members have won an international design competition with their proposal that the public be given free rein to take over derelict strip mall sites like Buffalo's Central Park Plaza and design and build their own urban communities in a manner that would be, they say, "not unlike the settling of the American frontier."


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


A fall architecture studio had students explore local rowing houses for inspiration in redesigning a new row facility for UB along the Buffalo River.


Students in Jin Young Song’s fall studio spent the semester creating designs for a new UB Police headquarters that would foster good relations with students and the larger campus community.

A legacy city in the midst of an economic restructuring, the region is riding a wave of reinvestment focused on its urban core, waterfront, and neighborhoods. Yet Buffalo also presents extreme urban challenges — such as population decline, vacancy, and economic disparity. With local-to-global relevance, design and planning innovations developed here in Buffalo emerge as best practices for application to our professions and city-regions around the world.


A Q&A with Professor Henry Taylor on how planning can help turn around distressed urban neighborhoods and what steps communities can take to extend the rebirth of the city to the benefit of all.

This historic city is also a place to explore and enjoy. Glide by Buffalo’s waterfront grain elevators in a kayak, savor local cuisine, or visit one of the city’s world-class art galleries. The region’s diverse citizenry is enriched by UB’s status as one of the nation’s top universities for international student enrollment. Two professional sports teams, lively nightlife, and fun, affordable neighborhoods round out the city’s offerings.

Buffalo is truly a global city and a rich context in which to study and experience architecture and planning.