Advancing racial justice

students gathered around the table peruse projects and research.

Members of the African American Students of Architecture and Planning organization at the School of Architecture and Planning are leading critical conversations on racial justice. Picture from left to right are Petreen Thomas, Zachary Korosh, and Rosanna Valencia. Photo by Melanie Morales

Mobilizing our disciplines toward a more equitable, anti-racist society

The current moment is an opening for historic change and new possibilities for the built environment professions to shape a more just and inclusive world for people of color.

Architects, planners and developers purport to create spaces and places where people can lead full and healthy lives. We know, however, that our professions have a long way to go before we can claim these ideals. A community of advoates, activists and innovators, the School of Architecture and Planning celebrates the work we do together to "see" and eliminate the legacies of systemic racism and mobilize our professions as forces for regenerative change. 

doubleasaap logo.

Our celebration of Black History Month and the work we do together to advance racial justice is guided by UB's African American Students of Architecture and Planning (doubleASAP)

Celebrating Black History Month

Throughout the month, together with the African American Students of Architecture and Planning (doubleASAP), we'll celebrate the contributions of faculty members, students, staff, and alumni who continually work to end racial injustice through their professional and personal actions. 

The Association for the Study of African American Life and History has announced that the 2021 theme for the Black History Month is Black family: Representation, Identity, and Diversity. The 2021 theme celebrates the heterogeneity of experiences, identities, and aspirations of Black families in the United States. The way we plan, design and develop our communities ought to recognize this diversity and heterogeneous among Black families. Planning and design decisions are also inextricably tied to the prosperity of Black families – by ensuring Black communities’ equitable access to quality, affordable housing, safe streets and neighborhoods, transportation, and healthy food.

Our #BlackExcellence campaign will celebrate the faculty, staff, students and alumni who work every day as advocates for racial justice. Follow us on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter, #BlackExcellence #UBuffaloArchPlan

Lifting voices, celebrating our community

We celebrate and support our faculty, students, staff, and alumni who work with our communities in Buffalo and beyond to end racial injustice through their professional and personal actions. 

Members of AASAP sit together side by side in Hayes Hall.

Black student leaders engage community around us

"We want to be able to apply knowledge to transform and revitalize neighborhoods that are often overlooked. We want hands on involvement particularly in the East side, and a curriculum change that focuses on the community around us," says Rosanna Valencia (BS Arch '21), vice president, African American Students of Architecture and Planning.

Shawntera Hardy.

Shawntera Hardy (MUP '04), co-founder, Civic Eagle

"As placemakers, designers, planners, and architects play a critical role in dismantling the systematic barriers that get in the way of building thriving communities. With the power of the pen and a lens of equity, they can change the trajectory generational inequities."

A photo of UB's GRoW Home, featuring a solar-panel roof and thermally insulated walls.

Byron Nicholas (MUP '13, BAED '11), founder of Black + Urban blog

"Blackandurban was created as a safe space for Black urban planners, designers and forward thinkers. The platform is intended to document practical and visionary solutions for the issues that plague Black urban spaces through the lens of research, experiences and case studies."

A photo of UB's GRoW Home, featuring a solar-panel roof and thermally insulated walls.

Joyce Hwang joins fellow architects in calling for anti-racist design education

Reflecting on her participation in Dark Matter University, a collective working toward anti-racist design education and practice: "I graduated from architecture school over 20 years ago, and am often bewildered by how little has changed in terms of racial equity and social justice in our field. The only way to really overturn systemic racism within institutions is to take action from outside our own institutions."

Henry Taylor speaks at podium.

Henry Taylor: Tireless advocate for racial justice

An award winning activist-scholar, Henry Louis Taylor Jr., professor of urban planning and director of UB's Center for Urban Studies, examines distressed urban areas and the factors behind their exploitation and underdevelopment. A member of the UB faculty for more than 30 years, Taylor brings an impassioned perspective on urban life and racial justice to both the university and the city he calls home. 

Building new knowledge and just modes of practice

Through research, teaching and practice, the built environment disciplines can work to undo place-based injustices experienced by Black communities. Efforts at the School of Architecture and Planning range from equitable food systems planning and climate justice to economic development and neighborhood planning to affordable housing research and critical analysis of racism in our professions. Recognizing the complicated legacy of our disciplines in this space, and their limits even today, we pursue research through an inter-disciplinary lens and in partnership with the communities we serve.

Race and Modern Architecture cover.

Examining racial constructs in architecture

Charles Davis II, assistant professor of architecture at UB, is co-editor of Race and Modern Architecture, a critically acclaimed publication that reveals the discipline's foundation on hierarchies of racial difference, its absorption of racial thought, and the racial origins of modernism's narrative of universalism and progress.

Image of East Side street with overlay of East Side Avenues text.

East Side Avenues initiative builds capacity for change

East Side Avenues brings together public and private funders, community non-profits, anchor institutions, consultants and the City of Buffalo to plan and coordinate revitalization activities on Buffalo’s East Side. With research and planning led by the UB Regional Institute, East Side Avenues will supports locally-owned businesses and projects that benefit people working and living in the community.

A close-up image of hands holding lettuce above a garden.

Advancing urban agriculture in communities of color

Working with community partners in Buffalo and Minneapolis, a team of researchers at the School of Architecture and Planning are studying and strengthening food systems policy networks to create equitable urban food systems through the newly launched Growing Food Policy from the Ground Up initiative. This co-produced action-research supports transformation in historically Black communities. The effort is funded by a nearly $1 million grant from the Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research.

map of thermal extremes in buffalo, ny.

Working toward climate justice

The Community Resilience Lab in the School of Architecture & Urban Planning advances socially equitable, livable and healthy urban communities through research on vulnerability to weather extremes for at-risk populations. Among its current initiatives is an NSF-funded study of how extreme heat and cold impact communities and at-risk populations in Buffalo, NY, and Tempe, AZ.

Race and Modern Architecture cover.

Examining urban renewal and school reform

Erkin Özay, assistant professor of architecture,  examines the role of contemporary public schools in urban design and renewal for disadvantaged neighborhoods in his latest book, Urban Renewal and School Reform in Baltimore. In this recent book launch lecture, Özay and Paola Aguirre Serrano, founder of the studio BORDERLESS, discuss the book's major case study, the Henderson-Hopkins PK-8 campus as the civic centerpiece of the East Baltimore Development Initiative.

Learn more

Pushing the conversation

The push for racial justice begins with listening and reflecting, and informing public debate. Through lectures, events and critical commentary we bring together diverse voices to provoke dialogue and drive action on racial justice. We invite all to join us in the conversation. 

Toward Racial justice poster.

Toward Racial Justice lecture series

This year's lecture series explores racial justice in our disciplines and the impact architects and urban planners have on historically disenfranchised communities. The Spring 2021 lineup features conversations on the legacies of Whiteness in planning, the impact of racism on Rust Belt cities, movements in the profession to achieve equality for women and BIPOC designers, and the power of community organizing.

A Black man stands along the street in front of a row of dilapidated buildings.

Race, class and the underdevelopment of Black neighborhoods

Watch UB urban planning professor Henry Taylor present his research on the city-building process and its construction of a duality of high-value developed White neighborhoods and low-value underdeveloped Black neighborhoods. These low-value underdeveloped Black neighborhoods are also the site of predatory forms of development.

A screen grab of the recent talk by Yeeli Mui and Allison DeHonney.

Supporting food access for underserved communities

Hear from community partner Allison DeHonney, executive director of Urban Fruits & Veggies, a Buffalo-based urban farm and mobile produce market, about her work to bring access to healthy food to underserved communities and her collaboration with Dr. Yeeli Mui and the UB Food Lab through the Growing Food Policy from the Ground Up (GFPGU). This recent talk was featured as part of the Co-Production of Knowledge lecture series hosted by the UB Community for Global Health Equity. 

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Faculty members inform public debate on racial justice

Our faculty serve as key resources for media outlets seeking balanced viewpoints and expertise on racial justice. Explore the diverse perspectives and contributions made by our faculty on such topics as the disproportionate impacts of COVID on Black communities, residential segregation and the housing affordability crisis.