Dean Robert Shibley reflects on the promise of a new year

Hayes Hall in show.

by Dean Robert Shibley, FAIA, FAICP

Published January 27, 2020

Welcome back to a new semester, a new year, and a new decade. As we reflect on a rewarding and successful fall - and acknowledge all that we accomplished together - another semester awaits with promise and potential.

Robert Shibley.

Dean Robert Shibley

Examples like the well-executed  senior architecture competition and the enthusiastically received MUP studio on extending the North Buffalo Rails to Trails are just two of many great studios that demonstrate the hard work and creativity of our students, and the dedication of our faculty.

Spring 2020 promises to be just as exciting, with studios including a design-build project at Silo City (Ecological Practices GRG), a study of affordable housing typologies for Buffalo's East Side (Inclusive Design GRG) and, in urban planning, an assessment of pre-fab housing as a solution to affordability as well as a BAED workshop to create a neighborhood plan for Kenmore, Buffalo's first suburb.

Faculty and students also made the most of winter break. More than a dozen students toured leading firms and networked with alums on our annual New York City career trek, a program planned this year by Joyce Hwang, Greg Delaney and Jeff Rehler. A team of urban planning students headed to Karakulam, India, with professor Samina Raja to study food infrastructure with the College of Engineering Technology Trivandrum, while the annual Global Innovation Challenge brought students from across UB to Hayes Hall to develop solutions to global health challenges. A number of other students honed their skills through internships with top firms, from Buffalo to New York.

The spring 2020 COUNTER/CULTURE lecture series focuses on the theme of institutional and cultural bias and features a lineup of powerful thought leaders across our disciplines. Thoughtfully curated by Hadas Steiner with Brian Carter, Charles Davis and Robert Silverman, the series kicks off Feb. 5 with Scott Ruff of the Pratt Institute and design research enterprise RuffWorks Studio. Highlights include Samia Henni, a Cornell AAP architectural historian and expert on the built environment in relation to colonialism, displacement, gender and Islam; Ashley Nickels, a political scientist from Kent State University who studies the intersection of urban politics and community development; and Sean Anderson, MoMA's associate curator of architecture and design. The full lineup will be released shortly. 

The work of our faculty and research enterprise continues to gain prominence in the national and professional press. Consider just a few of our most recent stories:

  • CNN covered Ashima Krishna's research on faith-to-faith conversion of Buffalo churches.
  • Fast Company shared research by Nicholas Rajkovich on strategies for climate-resilient building design.
  • Architect Magazine covered research by Despina Stratigakos on Hitler's attempt to rewrite WWI history through the destruction of monuments.
  • A Thinkbelt podcast with Charles Davis explores his latest book on the racial politics of Modern architectural style.
  • The school and UB Regional Institute were featured in The Buffalo News for their role on a $65 million economic development program for Buffalo's East Side, which includes real estate development training that brings the expertise of our faculty directly to business owners in the community.

This spring will also culminate our 50th anniversary celebration and "Be the Plus" campaign. On April 1, 2020, we'll put our "plus” on full display with an alumni exhibition celebrating the personal and professional achievements of 50 graduates, in 50 images, from the past 50 years. Also on April 1 we'll host our second annual Sydney Gross Alumni Symposium and open studios for Atelier Week. Meanwhile, stay tuned for new installments on our "Be the Plus" blog as we share stories about our first 50 years, and call attention to how our work is driving action around disruptive forces facing our discipline today. 

These are exciting times for the School of Architecture and Planning as we continue to elevate the global profile of our teaching and scholarship, improve our approaches to student advising and support with staff adjustments, and extend our impact through collaboration with industry and communities around the world. Our leadership team is looking forward to another successful semester, and the opportunity to guide our community in advancing the excellence of our teaching and scholarship.