The School of Architecture and Planning welcomed 194 new graduates into its alumni community on May 16, 2014, as the Buffalo School celebrated its 42nd commencement at UB’s Center for the Arts. With newly minted degrees ranging from the BS in Architecture to the dual Master of Urban Planning and Juris Doctorate, graduates celebrated their accomplishments with family and friends and a long line of distinguished guests from the university and local professional community.
UB President Satish K. Tripathi, who conferred degrees and offered remarks from the university, addressed graduates as “the next generation of global leaders,” and noted that they are ready to address society’s unanticipated challenges and needs. “Whatever the future brings, you are prepared,” he said.
In his welcome, Dean Robert G. Shibley said these graduates have been a part of one of the more celebrated periods in the history of the Buffalo School, with its faculty and students recently receiving several internationally prominent awards. This includes UB's successful entry into the U.S. Department of Energy’s elite Solar Decathlon, which will see students and faculty compete with 20 other collegiate teams across the country in designing and building a solar powered home. “This is part of the base that you’ve built and something that you can take with you for the rest of your lives,” Shibley said.
Walter Hood, internationally noted artist and landscape designer and a professor in the University of California Berkeley’s College of Environmental Design, delivered the commencement address. His Oakland, Ca.-based studio has generated award-winning designs of public spaces and art across the country, from UB’s Solar Strand to a sculpture court, garden and park at The New de Young Museum in San Francisco. Drawing from oral histories and social patterns and practices, his designs reflect place and time through the ways in which people inhabit them.
Touching upon simple but profound themes, Hood encouraged graduates to embrace their career as “art as living.” Referencing Alice Walker’s In Search of our Mothers' Gardens: Womanist Prose, Hood said the artistry is all around us, in the mundane and the everyday.
“The simple idea of just being and the appreciation of time spent with eyes wide open to people and place, that’s very powerful. So keep your eyes open and be still every now and then,” said Hood, whose design of UB’s Solar Strand has created a land art installation at the entrance to UB’s North Campus. The 750-kilowatt array is one of the world’s largest publicly accessible ground-mounted solar installations.
Hood also called upon graduates to find their “prophetic aesthetic,” or the truth, a reference to the writings of feminist critic Bell Hooks. “What this means is, if I look at something, then I have to be truthful for it. If I am an architect, I am not going to build a building on a flood plain. Just think about all 200 of you here, if each one of you told the truth on the next project you get, it would blow people away. The truth is hidden out there to us, it’s hidden beneath the asphalt and the concrete.”
Hood was also a 2014 recipient of the Buffalo School’s Dean’s Medal. The highest honor bestowed by the School of Architecture and Planning, the Dean’s Medal is awarded to individuals in recognition of extraordinary service or accomplishment in planning, architecture or environmental design. Louis P. Ciminelli, chairman & CEO of LPCiminelli and founding chairman of the Buffalo School Dean’s Council, was also honored with this year’s Dean’s Medal.
Drawing from Hood’s themes, Dean Robert G. Shibley offered these parting remarks to the Class of 2014. “You have the privilege now of being architects and planners. But if you are just human beings, ready with the truth, you will be great architects and planners no matter what you do.”
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