Daniel B. Hess, PhD

Professor, Chair - Department of Urban and Regional Planning
dbhess@buffalo.edu - Hayes 126A - (716) 829-5326

Professor, Chair -  Department of Urban and Regional Planning

Daniel B. Hess portrait at metro station.

Daniel B. Hess, professor and chair of urban planning at UB, explores the interactions between housing, transportation, land use, and other public concerns. Photo by Timo Ilves

Daniel Hess is a professor and chair of the Department of Urban and Regional Planning at UB. Central to Hess's research is addressing interactions between housing, transportation, land use, and other public concerns. He develops new pathways for understanding the complex socio-economic and ethnic landscape of cities and spatial inequalities.

Hess guides his research, scholarship and teaching with a drive to understand cities as more walkable and suitable to the mobility needs of all ages, a passion he connects to his upbringing in Kenmore, a first-ring suburb of Buffalo with ‘old urbanism’ features. His interests were further defined while working as a transportation planner in Boca Raton, Florida. Walking to work one day along a busy, multi-lane highway he was stopped by a police officer concerned with his safety (because he was walking, not driving). According to Hess, “I then knew I wanted to pursue a career in urban planning so that I could help educate the next generation of urban planners with a holistic understanding of urban transportation systems that don't favor the automobile system over other modes of travel.”

The recipient of UB’s Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Teaching, Hess has taught core courses in the environmental design bachelor’s program, directed award-winning studios in the Master of Urban Planning program, and led eight study abroad courses in England, Estonia, Latvia and Russia. A dedicated teacher and mentor, Hess engages students in all aspects of his research, including collection of primary data and the design and implementation of analysis methods. Hess says his continued connection with graduates of the program keeps his teaching and instruction current while building professional networking opportunities for students.

A member of the faculty since 2002 and former associate chair of the department, Hess is also a 1997 graduate of UB's Master of Urban Planning program. 

Big changes are on the horizon. We can expect transformations related to autonomous vehicles to happen fast and significantly change urban landscapes and travel behavior.

 - Daniel B. Hess

Recent News

12/17/18
UB urban planning professor and chair Daniel B. Hess is among a growing core of scholars at work on new research on a growing national issue: parking.
3/28/18

A team of planners from the University at Buffalo and University of Tartu in Estonia are tuning into chatter on social media to gather valuable unbiased data on resident perceptions of urban neighborhoods across Estonia.

1/5/18
Daniel B. Hess, professor of urban planning who studies the socio-economic dynamics of housing, transportation and land use, has been appointed chair of the Department of Urban and Regional Planning at UB, effective January 1, 2018.
9/14/17

With Hurricane Irma leading to massive closures - including hospitals - urban planning professor Daniel B. Hess, an expert on emergecy planning infrastructure, explores the intensive work that goes into hospital planning for catastrophic events.

Media Mentions

Courses

6/26/18
This course focuses on the spatial structure and function of cities and regions and the roles that urban planners play in analyzing and shaping cities and regions, including the built and natural environment, environmental policies, and social and economic dynamics. The objective is to reach a critical understanding of the cultural and historical processes and planning actions and policies that have influenced cities and regions. 
6/26/18
The final exercise for the Master of Urban Planning asks you to demonstrate your capabilities as a planner by preparing a planning report of professional quality on a specific place. 

Education

  • B.S. (civil and environmental engineering), Clarkson University
  • M.U.P., University at Buffalo, State University of New York
  • Ph.D. (urban planning), University of California, Los Angeles

Selected activities, honors and awards

  • Marie Skłodowska-Curie Research Fellowship
  • Fulbright Scholar Award, Tallinn University of Technology, Estonia
  • National Endowment for the Humanities Visiting Scholar at Columbia University
  • UB Presidential Commission on Academic Excellence and Equity
  • Board of Advisors, Center for Transportation Excellence
  • Founding Board of Advisors, All Aboard Erie
  • Chester Rapkin Prize
  • UB Exceptional Scholar Award
  • Dwight D. Eisenhower Fellow, Federal Highway Administration

Public Service

Hess consults with federal, state, and local agencies so that his research can lead to more effective planning. For example, he was part of a team that explored design concepts and programs for adding transit-oriented development along Buffalo’s Metro Rail corridor. He managed a grant from the Mineta Transportation Institute to investigate the barriers that keep older adults from riding traditional fixed-route transit. He also directed a grant from the Federal Transit Administration to investigate how public involvement can be used to expand alternative transportation financing schemes.

Research

In his scholarship, Hess explores metropolitan form and urban planning practice and policy, sometimes interactively and sometimes separately, but always as a means to improve city functions and urban life.

His research contributes to discussions that seek to re-evaluate relationships between transport and land use to address various pressing societal concerns, including pollution, congestion, and metropolitan sprawl. He accomplishes this by focusing his intellectual inquiry on connections between transportation and land use planning and resulting impacts on health, environment, and social aspects of community. Through spatial analysis of urban phenomenon, he examines connections between urban public policy, population groups, and built environments with a focus on equity in access to transportation, housing and essential services. 

Hess’s research spans urban planning history and post-socialist urban space, which he has developed in Estonia and the Baltic States as a Fulbright Scholar in 2011 and in 2016-2017 as a Marie Skłodowska-Curie Fellow at the Centre for Urban and Migration Studies at the University of Tartu, Estonia. During his time there he researched how the legacy of town planning and the wide-ranging effects of various occupations affect local and national planning systems and planning practice. Additionally he has sought to understand housing systems and historical and current population dynamics to explore the effects of inherited segmentation from Soviet times.

He is the author of countless peer-reviewed articles and co-editor of Springer: Housing Estates in Europe: Poverty, Ethnic Segregation and Policy Challenges (Springer, 2018). He is also co-editor of the journal Town Planning Review (Liverpool University Press).

Featured Projects and Publications

1/1/18
Daniel B. Hess and collaborators explore the formation and socio-spatial trajectories of large housing estates in Europe. 
3/4/19
Professor of urban planning Daniel B. Hess describes a fare-free public transport program in Tallinn, Estonia.
3/4/19
Professor of urban planning Daniel B. Hess examines, twenty-five years after the disintegration of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR), the vision and implementation of transport planning in these modernist residential districts.
3/4/19
Professor of urban planning Daniel B. Hess investigates the repealing of parking minimum requirements in Buffalo.