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AIA Award to Honor Robert Shibley’s Role in Revitalizing Buffalo

Prestigious American Institute of Architects prize celebrates the lifetime achievements of Dean Shibley

By Charlotte Hsu

Published February 21, 2014

"An award like this is really recognizing broadly-based and long running collaborations with colleagues at the University at Buffalo, the School of Architecture and Planning, three mayors and a host of legislators, and the business and not for profit communities that host us."
Robert G. Shibley, Dean
School of Architecture and Planning

Robert G. Shibley, dean of the School of Architecture and Planning, will receive the American Institute of Architects’ prestigious Thomas Jefferson Award for Public Architecture.

The recognition puts Buffalo and Western New York in the national spotlight.

Among other accomplishments, the jury cited Shibley’s leadership in producing award-winning plans for Buffalo, spurring new investment and elevating public expectations for design and planning.

He directed efforts to draft Buffalo’s comprehensive plan, along with plans for the city’s waterfront, Larkin District and Olmsted park and parkway system.

In 2003, a regional action plan he helped develop envisioned Buffalo as the center of public life and commerce in Western New York. Called the “Queen City Hub,” the document carried the dedication, “To people everywhere who love Buffalo, NY and continue to make it an even better place to live life well.”

Shibley won the Jefferson Award in a category that recognizes public officials or individuals who “have furthered the public’s awareness and/or appreciation of design excellence in public architecture.”

"In the post-industrial city, urban design is crucial, and the history of Shibley's work is very impressive," said William Bates, chair of the awards jury. "He's done a lot within the city in planning, and he seemed to be serving as a catalyst for redevelopment and reuse of the waterfront as well as other types of sites. We were really impressed with his commitment to the area and the impact he had made through various projects."

"An award like this is really recognizing broadly-based and long running collaborations with colleagues at the University at Buffalo, the School of Architecture and Planning, three mayors and a host of legislators, and the business and not for profit communities that host us,” Shibley said.

For three decades, Shibley has been a driving force in reimagining — and revitalizing — Western New York.

Today, the planning efforts he led are bearing fruit in the form of a booming medical corridor, a downtown where developers are renovating historic buildings, and a waterfront where new businesses are cropping up.

“Bob has been the insightful, impactful and determined voice of urban and regional planning in this community for decades,” said Howard Zemsky, the local developer responsible for such forward-thinking projects as the revitalization of the Larkin District. “He brings a collaborative style and philosophy to the table and he is relentless in his pursuit of a better Buffalo and Western New York. Bob and his team at UB have played an integral role in shaping our economic development planning and implementation in recent years.”

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