Students explore affordable housing prototypes, issue of displacement

Rendering of affordable housing design by student Alexa Russo

UB graduate student Alexa Russo’s one-story row-house design was chosen to be a new build reality. Her construction drawings are currently being used as the basis of the Inclusive Design Spring 2018 studio, with plans to be built by next summer.

by Eamon Riley (JD/MUP '18)

Published March 13, 2018

The issue of affordable housing is a nationwide concern, and University at Buffalo students are making strides to address the problem at home. Namely, an architecture studio that prototyped construction innovations, and graduate planning students that worked on Buffalo's East Side to promote reinvigoration without displacement. 

Architecture professor Edward Steinfeld and the IDeA center are in the midst of a two-semester design/build graduate studio working to design affordable housing to be sited within the City of Buffalo. Last semester, students carefully considered material efficiency, cost, and clever construction choices. These innovations allowed for more flexibility in the budget to be used toward comfort, accessibility for all, and aesthetics. UB graduate student Alexa Russo’s one-story row-house design was chosen to be a new build reality. Her construction drawings are currently being used as the basis of the Inclusive Design Spring 2018 studio, with the anticipation that it will be built by next summer.

Another research endeavor in affordable housing at the School of Architecture and Planning is being led by professor Henry Taylor of the Center for Urban Studies. Taylor's fall 2017 graduate urban planning studio explored strategies that would reinvigorate an East Side neighborhood without displacing current residents, and grappled with the issue of gentrification. The target study neighborhood was an area anchored by the King Urban Life Center, a non-profit agency that has served parts of the East Side since 1986.

Taylor's students focused on creating pathways to resident self-agency and community based ownership of the neighborhood. The class proposed creating a community land trust for the King Urban Life Neighborhood, with the intent to create affordable housing that the current residents could sustain. Other strategies included establishing a volunteer code inspector team to hold absentee landlords responsible for maintaining their properties and strategic infill development.

Come join us on April 10 for the University at Buffalo Affordable Housing Symposium! There will be more innovative student work on display, as well as talks and panels by industry leading professionals. AIA and AICP continuing education credits will be available!