Lynda Schneekloth, Sue Weidemann Take Home Lifetime Achievement Awards in Environmental Design

By Rachel Teaman

Published May 19, 2014

Two UB architecture faculty members have won internationally-prominent lifetime achievement awards for their “significant and lasting” contributions to environmental design research, practice and teaching.

Lynda Schnnekloth.

Lynda Schneekloth, professor emerita of architecture, and Sue Weidemann, PhD, visiting professor of architecture, have each been honored with a 2014 Career Award from the Environmental Design Research Association, a worldwide interdisciplinary organization concerned with the inter-relationships of people with their built and natural surroundings.

Schneekloth, who joined UB’s architecture department in 1982, is widely regarded for advancing the dynamics of professional and citizen engagement in placemaking through reflective practice, scholarship, and teaching. She has made significant contributions to environmental design research and practice through the reconceptualization of knowledge and the role of the imaginal in making and unmaking places.

Over a career that spans four decades, Schneekloth has explored the ways in which people come to live and love places through making, maintaining and imagining them. She has fostered democratic design processes that integrate the expert knowledge of designers and other professionals with the situated knowledge of citizens who inhabit particular spaces.

The subjects of her work have included children’s environments, remediation of toxic sites and brownfields, the protection of urban waterfronts and regional watersheds, the reuse of historic buildings and landscapes, and the earth itself. She has been an insistent voice in the exploration of humans as a species, and the impact of our imagination of our place on the earth’s natural processes and other life forms.

She is one of the founders of the Buffalo Niagara Riverkeeper, a nonprofit devoted to repairing and protecting the region’s waterways. She was also a key participant in the relicensing of the Niagara Power Project and the resultant Niagara River Greenway. Schneekloth was an organizer of the Western New York Environmental Alliance, and today takes an active voice for regional environmental issues as Chair of the Sierra Club Niagara Group. Schneekloth continues to serve as Director of Landscape at the School of Architecture and Planning’s Urban Design Project /UB Regional Institute, an award-winning center for the critical practice of planning and urban design.

From this work, Schneekloth has generated internationally noted scholarship and widely cited case studies. She is author or editor of six books, including Ordering Space: Types in Architecture and Design, the seminal work on type; Placemaking: The Art and Practice of Building Communities, with Robert Shibley; and books on regional history such as Reconsidering Concrete Atlantis: Buffalo Grain Elevators, Olmsted in Buffalo and Niagara and The Power Trail. Schneekloth remains active on the local and global fronts, today focusing on reimagining our built environment and promoting clean energy production systems to combat global climate change. 

Sue Weidemann.

For the past 35 years, Weidemann, an environmental psychologist, has focused her practice, research and teaching on the relationships between people and the places and spaces they use. Her contributions to the field include pioneering research on housing satisfaction and workplace design and the development of widely cited social science- and survey-based design methodologies.

She began her career with the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, where she held professorships in both the landscape architecture and housing research and development programs. In 1994, she joined BOSTI (Buffalo Organization for Social and Technical Innovation), a consultancy for workplace planning and design. As director of research and now as president of BOSTI, she has developed quantitative measurements of the effects of workplace design upon business metrics such a job satisfaction, team performance and the productivity of office workers. These analyses have directly influenced the design and planning of high-performance workplaces for clients including Microsoft, Ericsson, MITRE, Lockheed Martin, Revenue Canada, and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

Weidemann joined the School of Architecture and Planning in 2011, serving as a senior consultant to the Center for Inclusive Design and Environmental Access and a visiting professor in the Department of Architecture, where she both teaches and advises student research in inclusive design.

Over the course of her teaching career, Weidemann has mentored hundreds of students across the disciplines of architecture, landscape architecture, urban planning and psychology. Seven of her students have received EDRA Student Paper Awards and two have received American Society of Landscape Architecture Student Awards for Design Research; many now hold esteemed professional and academic positions in the field of environmental design.

Weidemann has authored or co-authored more than 40 articles, book chapters and reports. The design research that she and her colleagues have conducted has been recognized by the American Society of Landscape Architects, the National Endowment for the Arts and Progressive Architecture.

Both Weidemann and Schneekloth have served EDRA through leadership positions on its board of directors, awards juries and search committees, and editorial boards.   

EDRA was founded in 1969 by a group of architects and psychologists interested in fostering human-centered environmental design through social sciences methods and a conscious understanding of the design decision process. The School of Architecture and Planning has played an active role in EDRA since the late 1960s, when the school was founded as the “School of Architecture and Environmental Design.”

The 2014 EDRA Awards will be presented at the organization’s 45th annual conference, EDRA45NewOrleans, May 28-31, 2014.