Inclusive Design

Inclusive Design Graduate Research students during a project review.

Inclusive Design is design for all. A global movement that seeks to improve the usability of environments, products and systems for the widest range of people, it is based on the principles of social justice. 

Inclusive Design is one of the most important design movements of this era because its emphasis is on empowering the average citizen.The Inclusive Design Graduate Research Group focuses on design processes grounded in democratic values of non-discrimination, equal opportunity and personal empowerment.

We provide both a theoretical and working knowledge of Inclusive Design, focused on environments, products, and systems for a wider range of people, especially those in underserved populations. The curriculum includes a sequence of required courses supplemented by electives and workshops that provide both a theoretical and working knowledge of Inclusive Design. Along with a core curriculum, students work with faculty mentors to develop individualized programs of study that reflect their specific interests. 

Faculty members working in the group are associated with the Center for Inclusive Design and Environmental Access (IDeA Center),a leading site for design, service, education and dissemination activities related to inclusive design. Led by SUNY Distinguished Professor Edward H. Steinfeld, an international pioneer in his field, the IDeA Center is an unparalleled resource for students interested in making the world a better place for all.  

Related Courses

This studio will explore the idea of mixing different uses in one building to produce a living, working and leisure environment that supports mind-body balance. 
The seminar explores specific strategies related to the tectonics of the knot, providing students with an opportunity to deepen on the material expression around the action of weaving, as a condition that brings together basic constructive traditions with contemporary architectural production. 

This course examines the many ways in which humans respond to (and often modify) both private and public space. It falls within the intellectual domain of Inclusive Design.


In the first half of this course, we will develop our own surveying tools in the shop to investigate a portion of the abandoned Bethlehem Steel site Lackawanna, New York. Tools developed in the class will incorporate traditional remote sensing and surveying equipment (for position), digital and analog monitors (for phenomena), and will be recorded on a paper template.

This studio will explore the possibility of co-housing as a model for multi-lot urban infill for students and seniors in multiple Buffalo neighborhoods.  
This course will provide experience in the use of key tools for the implementation of universal design. The course will focus on a certification program for universal design of buildings developed by the IDeA Center: Innovative Solutions for Universal Design, or isUD. 
Creating environments which all people can experience in an inclusive and positive manner is important.  The previous course in this sequence (ARC 623: Behavior and Space) explored behavioral issues related to different environmental settings. This course will explore the methods by which we can learn about people’s responses to the designed environment. Learning about these techniques will provide evidence-based user information for your future design & planning work. The course falls within the Technical Methods domain of Inclusive Design. 
This studio will be about design for creativity and entrepreneurism. It will explore the creation of a student oriented small business incubator for UB. Three sites will be studied, one on each of the three campuses. The project will include research and analysis, visioning exercises, space programming and building design. UB’s Capital Planning Group and other university units will participate. 
Architects and other designers/planners have a responsibility for being knowledgeable about how their design of spaces/places affects the people who use them. When people’s needs are adequately addressed, there can be many positive results. For example, healthcare recipients can experience less stress and recover more quickly. Student learning in schools and classrooms can be enhanced; office workers can have higher levels of performance and job satisfaction, and fewer work-related illnesses, etc. Thus, it is critical that you to learn how to design humane, inclusive, useful, and enriching places and spaces. 

Affiliated Faculty

Edward Steinfeld, SUNY Distinguished Professor of Architecture and director of the IDEA Center, has been a trailblazer in the field of inclusive design since the 1970s. He believes architecture should, first and foremost, benefit the people who use buildings, and make a positive contribution to the community.
Beth Tauke is associate professor in the Department of Architecture. Her research focuses on beginning design education and inclusive design’s relationship to the senses. 
Kenneth S. MacKay, AIA has more than twenty years of experience in teaching architectural design studios, professional practice and building systems integration.
Korydon Smith is professor and chair of architecture at UB and co-director of UB's Community for Global Health Equity. He works across disciplines to build design solutions for those who have been traditionally marginalized from decisions about the design of their built environment.
Vice Provost for Inclusive Excellence, University at Buffalo
Professor - Department of Architecture - Capen Hall 549 - 716-645-6200
Sue Weidemann, PhD, is an environmental psychologist who, for over 35 years, has studied the relationships between people and the places and spaces they use, through her research, teaching, and consulting.