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Edward Steinfeld to Receive UB Presidential Award

UB architect Edward Steinfeld (left) is the pioneering founder of one of the most successful research programs in the U.S. Photo: DOUGLAS LEVERE

By PATRICIA DONOVAN

Published March 4, 2010

Edward H. Steinfeld, award-winning professor of architecture in the School of Architecture and Planning and an international pioneer in the field of inclusive design and environmental access, will receive the university’s second annual Presidential Award for Faculty Excellence from President John B. Simpson at 5 p.m. March 25 in 146 Diefendorf Hall, South Campus.

The Presidential Award for Faculty Excellence was established to honor UB faculty members who have compiled distinguished records of teaching, mentorship, research and public service.

The award ceremony and a presentation by Steinfeld of his work will be followed at 5:45 p.m. by a reception and open house in the IDEA Center, 378 Hayes Hall, South Campus. Both events are free and open to the public. Click here  for additional information.

Steinfeld’s research into accessible environments began in the 1970s and became the basis for accessibility codes and regulations in the U.S., including the Americans with Disabilities Act Accessibility Guidelines. This work continues to be cited throughout the world and has been a model for many other researchers.

Steinfeld joined the UB faculty in 1978 and six years later founded the UB IDEA Center—the Center for Inclusive Design and Environmental Access. He led its development into an internationally renowned, multidisciplinary research center that remains one of the most successful and long-lived research programs in architecture and environmental design in the U.S.

Simpson said Steinfeld’s architect’s training and scholarly gifts have created a whole new world of possibilities for the elderly and those with disabilities.

“Professor Steinfeld’s landmark research and captivating ideas have brought him worldwide recognition and the gratitude of many,” Simpson noted. “Indeed, he and his colleagues at the UB IDEA Center have touched countless lives with their innovative thinking and creative products serving diverse populations.

“Above all, Dr. Steinfeld continues to design products and built environments that are accessible to anyone—at any level of functional ability. This is the great beauty of his approach and one that has helped to establish UB as a leader in disabilities and rehabilitation research. We are grateful for his long record of academic distinction and his profound service to humanity.”

The disability rights movement and changing demographic trends are driving a transformation in our built environment to support a more inclusive society. The IDEA Center, which receives more than $1.2 million in grants and contracts a year, is dedicated to making environments and products more usable, safer and healthier in response to the needs of an increasingly diverse population. Steinfeld and the IDEA Center are contributing significantly to changes in design-related policy and design practices.

Steinfeld also is the principal investigator for the Rehabilitation Engineering Research Center (RERC) on Universal Design and the Built Environment, the largest funded research and design program on universal design in the world. This RERC is a collaborative research group comprising the IDEA Center, the Ontario Rehabilitation Technology Consortium and representatives from the design and disability communities nationwide. Its aim is to produce an improved evidence base for universal design; develop new research tools, innovative products and voluntary standards; and disseminate educational resources on universal design to an international audience.

Steinfeld and his son, Aaron Steinfeld, a systems scientist at the Carnegie-Mellon University Robotics Institute, co-direct a related grant, the RERC on Accessible Public Transportation. This program aims to develop an evidence base on human factors related to boarding and disembarking from vehicles, develop new standards for vehicle (including transit vehicle) design and produce new technologies for obtaining and using information on transit systems.

Steinfeld also is an influential writer. He is one of the authors of the seminal Principles of Universal Design, a framework for designing beautiful and functional environments for all people, regardless of age, gender, ability or change in ability. The principles have been translated into many languages and are instrumental in defining the concept throughout the world.

Seinfeld’s more than 100 publications include “Enabling Environments” (Springer, 1999), which he co-edited with Gary Scott Danford, UB associate professor of architecture, and “Inclusive Housing: A Pattern Book: Design for Diversity and Equality,” to be published by W.W. Norton & Co. in May.

He also is the lead author of a new textbook on universal design being produced by the IDEA Center, scheduled for publication this year by Wiley, and is completing work on a chapter of the World Rehabilitation Report, commissioned by the World Health Organization.

Steinfeld serves on the Board of the Global Universal Design Commission, a not-for-profit organization for which he is leading the development of standards for a certification program for universal design. He is in great demand as a lecturer at universities and conferences in the U.S. and abroad, has designed many constructed buildings and interiors, and has had an active consulting career with clients that include federal government agencies, architectural firms and attorneys.

In recognition of his contribution to the field of architectural design, Steinfeld has received many awards, including a Research Award from Progressive Architecture, a Design Research Recognition Award from the National Endowment for the Arts and a Distinguished Professor Award from the Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture.

He is a former member of the board of directors of the Western New York Independent Living Center and currently serves on the advisory board of the Center for Disability Studies in the UB College of Arts and Sciences, and on the Research Advisory Council to the Vice President for Research at UB.