School of Architecture and Planning Plays Key Role in Conference

Architectural historians worldwide to explore Buffalo during annual society meeting

UB faculty, staff and alumni will lead tours of some of Buffalo's cultural treasures, like Kleinhans Music Hall.

UB faculty, staff and alumni will lead tours of some of Buffalo's cultural treasures, like Kleinhans Music Hall.


Published March 29, 2013

When architectural luminaries from around the world come to Buffalo this month for the Society of Architectural Historians' annual conference, experts from UB will be on hand to introduce out-of-town guests to the marvels that make Buffalo unique and to the innovative ways in which the city is planning for the future.

The annual meeting takes place April 10-14 in the Buffalo Niagara Convention Center. It will bring hundreds of architectural historians, architects, planners, preservationists and media critics to Buffalo for five days of conversation, paper sessions and tours.

One important focus of the conference will be how Buffalo uses preservation as a tool for long-term urban, cultural and economic sustainability.

Faculty, staff and alumni from UB will be leading workshops, as well as expert-led tours of cultural treasures like Kleinhans Music Hall and the Hotel @ the Lafayette.

Despina Stratigakos, associate professor of architecture in the UB School of Architecture and Planning, is the conference’s local co-chair with Tom Yots, executive director of Preservation Buffalo Niagara and an alumnus of UB’s master of architecture program. Stratigakos, who joined the UB faculty in 2007, campaigned heavily for the Society of Architectural Historians (SAH) to come to Western New York.

“After arriving in Buffalo, I kept telling people elsewhere what an incredible city it is in terms of the architecture and the planning idea—the creative past and continuing spirit—and at a certain point, I realized that it really has to be seen, in a way, to be absorbed,” she says. “Buffalo has many architectural gems, but more than that, there’s a very interesting, radical history here of innovation.”

Some conference events led by members of the UB community:

  • Robert Shibley, dean of the School of Architecture and Planning, is working with Catherine Schweitzer of the Baird Foundation to organize “Future Design Solutions for Buffalo,” a roundtable discussion that will feature Pulitzer Prize-winning architectural critic Paul Goldberger and focus on the future of preservation in Buffalo, including what the city’s next steps should be. Shibley also will introduce a full-day preservation seminar, entitled “The Sustainable Post-Industrial City: Using Buffalo’s Architectural Legacy for Growth and Vitality.”
  • Kelly Hayes McAlonie, interim associate vice provost of UB’s Capital Planning Group, will partner with developer Rocco Termini to deliver a tour of the Hotel @ the Lafayette. The hotel originally was designed by Buffalo’s own Louise Bethune, the first woman admitted to the American Institute of Architects.
  • Architect Theodore Lownie, who has taught senior and graduate design studios at the School of Architecture and Planning, and Denise Prince, a graduate of UB’s Department of Visual Studies, will help lead a tour of Kleinhans Music Hall. Lownie, a partner in Hamilton Houston Lownie Architects, has been supervising the building’s restoration, while Prince completed her master’s thesis on the role of acoustics in the concert hall’s design.
  • UB Libraries is sponsoring a paper session titled “Modern Architecture and the Book,” which investigates the use of the book to document, describe, promote and critique modern architecture from its inception at the end of the 19th century to its alleged death in the late 20th century.

Many other members of the UB community are involved in planning or presenting, and the School of Architecture and Planning is one of the conference’s lead sponsors. The UB Libraries and the Gender Institute also are local sponsors. Stratigakos encourages all interested Western New Yorkers to participate by attending some of the meeting’s public events.

“SAH has never been to Buffalo in its 65 years of holding meetings, and the last time the conference was held in New York State was in the 1960s, so it’s a big deal that this event is coming to town,” she says.

“We feel it's very important for people who live and work in Buffalo to participate. People are coming from 25 countries around the world, and they’re going to hear all about Buffalo and our projects and our challenges, and then they’re going to take that home, back to their countries,” Stratigakos says. “But we also want to be learning from them. There may be some really interesting preservation project going on in some other place that sparks ideas about better practices and alternative methods we could use here.”

For more information, visit the conference’s website.