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Commencement - May 19, 2017

Alum and national leader in affordable housing development to address Class of 2017

Published May 11, 2017

Members of the community are invited to join the School of Architecture and Planning on Friday, May 19, 2017, in celebrating its 2017 graduating class of architects and planners. 

The School of Architecture and Planning 2017 Commencement ceremony will take place at 5 p.m., at the Center for the Arts, UB North Campus. Two hundred twenty-five graduates will walk the stage, including the first graduate of the school's doctoral program in urban planning.

Alumnus Diane Georgopulos, a founding member of the school’s Dean's Council and the former head of design and construction at MassHousing, the nation’s largest affordable housing finance agency, will address graduates. 

A pioneering member of the school, Georgopulos was among the first class of the “School of Architecture and Environmental Design,” earning her bachelor’s degree in environmental design in 1973. Inspired by the possibilities of new ways of tackling the problems of an increasingly complex and threatened world, she went on to advocate for affordable housing and developed the design guidelines for the Elder Choice Program, which provides services for the elderly in a residential setting.

Georgopulos also will be presented with the 2017 Dean’s Medal, the highest honor bestowed by the school in recognition of individuals who have made outstanding contributions to the professions of architecture and planning and to the betterment of our world through inspirational practice, scholarship and leadership. The Dean’s Medal will also be presented to two longstanding friends of the school, both of whom receive the award posthumously. Theodore Lownie, a leading Buffalo architect and member of the school’s faculty for more than three decades; and Mark Mendell, former co-chairman of CannonDesign and an inaugural member of the school’s Dean’s Council.

Diane Georgopulos worked for 27 years as an architect at MassHousing before her retirement in 2016. As director of the agency’s Design and Construction Department, she oversaw construction lending for a $3 billion rental portfolio. 

A nationally recognized architect, Georgopulos received the the American Institute of Architects’ Thomas Jefferson Award for Public Architecture in 2005. She is a fellow of the American Institute of Architects.

She was on the MassHousing team that received the Ford Foundation’s Innovations in American Government Award in 1995 for the Elder Choice Program, a first model for state-financed, assisted living programs designed to deliver services to frail elders in a residential setting. She more recently consulted with her state colleagues in developing design standards for the Commonwealth’s Smart Growth Zoning Overlay District Program.

A key achievement in her career was her involvement as project manager for construction and design of the $275 million U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development Demonstration Disposition Program, the largest single investment made in the history of that agency. Using an expansive resident participation process, the program spanned 11 developments, 167 buildings and 1,850 units of affordable family housing.

Georgopulos earned her Master of Architecture from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1982.