BUFFALO, N.Y. -- The University at Buffalo Regional Institute,
known for its cutting-edge policy research, and the Urban Design
Project, a key contributor across two decades to planning and
place-making efforts throughout the region, are joining forces.
Already two of UB's most active and relevant research centers,
the alliance of UBRI and UDP will buttress the capacity of the
School of Architecture and Planning to produce public scholarship
in service to the community and build a new infrastructure to
support faculty research.
"The Regional Institute has been the go-to source for practical
policy research for more than a decade," Robert G. Shibley, dean of
the School of Architecture and Planning said. "And our Urban Design
Project has been closely involved in many of the most important
planning initiatives in Buffalo Niagara since 1990. We'll be even
"We will continue to do the work we've been doing," Shibley
said. "And we will do it with a more robust team that brings a
broader set of skills to the table. Our expertise will be more
diverse. The potential to come up with new solutions to old
problems will be so much greater."
The allied organizations bring together planners, urban
designers, architects, landscape architects, data analysts, policy
specialists, legal experts, researchers, information systems
experts, technical writers, graphic designers, grant writers, and
others to provide research, policy advice, planning, and design
assistance to governments, businesses and not-for-profits in the
Members of the new team are also poised to support faculty
members with burgeoning research programs spanning topics as
diverse as food systems security, responses to climate change,
green transportation, inclusive design, situated technologies (the
use of technology embedded in buildings), sustainable community
development, planning for extreme events (such as earthquakes or
hurricanes) and many others.
Staff in both centers are supported largely by the proceeds of
the work they produce. They will also help leverage the sponsored
research dollars that will support doctoral students set to enter a
new Ph.D. program in planning directed by UB Professor Samina Raja
starting next year.
Shibley will oversee the operations of both the institute and
UDP for the immediate future, while UB Regional Institute director
Kathryn A. Foster takes a one-year sabbatical to conduct research
at the prestigious Brookings Institution in Washington, DC.
The School plans to hire an associate dean for research, who
will direct both the operations of the allied research centers and
provide support to faculty researchers across both departments in
UB Interim Provost Harvey G. Stenger Jr. said the new alliance
puts the School of Architecture and Planning in a strong position
to contribute to the continued growth of sponsored research and the
fulfillment of UB's role as a great public research university.
"We are in the business of producing knowledge in the public
interest," Stenger said. "Aligning two of our most productive and
capable centers with the research agendas of our faculty equips the
School of Architecture and Planning to contribute to the core
institutional mission in greater measure than ever before."
Shibley emphasized that the alliance of the Regional Institute
and UDP was only the first step in mounting a school-wide strategy
to increase external funding for research and to expand public
"The faculty in our school have always conducted socially
relevant research," Shibley said, "and we have always done work in
the community. What will be different now is that we will be
working together to make it better – through this new
alliance, and through the appointment of an associate dean whose
main job is to encourage faculty research."
Shibley praised the work of Foster, a widely-recognized
authority on regional governance who has been UBRI director for the
past six years. "Kate Foster has done a great job," Shibley said.
"During her tenure, the institute has become even more important in
the life of Buffalo Niagara."
"Directing the UB Regional Institute has been the most
gratifying and meaningful job I've ever had," Foster said. "The
institute's work is smart, valuable and trusted, and I have been
proud to be a part of it. Dean Shibley's vision for the future of
the institute will ensure it continues to serve the community."
Foster said she is looking forward to her sabbatical and the
opportunity focus on her research away from the day to day press of
business at the institute.
"After six years," she said, "it is a good time to step back and
reflect on the work we have been doing and try to understand what
we have learned in the process about how regions govern themselves
and how they can do it better."
Under Foster's leadership, the institute greatly diversified its
funding and research portfolio, growing in value in the community
as a source of objective and innovative research – "decision
support" – on some of the region's most pressing issues.
The institute most recently completed a series of studies on the
role of higher education in the new economy, a comprehensive
assessment of Buffalo Niagara's labor market and a report on the
status of women and girls. It also developed an online repository
of data on the bi-national region, built a cross-border governance
research program, and launched a policy brief series providing
analysis on timely topics for the region.
The institute will continue to operate out of its facilities in
the UB Downtown Gateway, where it moved in November 2009 as part of
the early wave of UB 2020 activities.
This is a time of change for the School of Architecture and
Planning. Faculty and staff are now vacating Hayes Hall in
preparation for a comprehensive renewal of UB's most historic and
recognizable building. Work on Hayes, set to begin in September,
will be followed by a top-to-bottom renovation of Crosby Hall. The
$50 million project is scheduled to be completed by 2015.
The doctoral program in planning to be inaugurated next year
will put UB among fewer than 40 American universities to offer such
a degree. UB also has the only department of architecture and one
of only two programs in planning in the SUNY system.
Professor Ernest Sternberg, chair of the Department of Urban and
Regional Planning said, "this new chapter in the history of the
institute and the Urban Design Project in our School is a critical
component of our commitment to continued public scholarship and new
The school, with a full-time faculty of 38, is already home to
five University-recognized research centers, including the Center
for Inclusive Design and Environmental Access (the IDEA Center),
the Center for Architecture and Situated Technologies, and the
Center for Urban Studies, as well as UDP and UBRI.
The Urban Design Project has established a similarly
distinguished record in urban design and planning. Under Shibley's
leadership, the UDP produced the recent comprehensive plan for the
City of Buffalo, including plans for Downtown, the waterfront, and
the Olmsted parks and parkway system.
The Buffalo ensemble of plans won a 2009 Charter Award from the
Congress for the New Urbanism and The Queen City Hub: A Regional
Action Plan for Downtown Buffalo won the American Planning
Association's 2005 national award for "outstanding planning."
UDP staff also worked closely with Shibley on creation of
Building UB: the Comprehensive Physical Plan the capital
development component of the University's UB 2020 strategic plan.
The UB campus master plan, an important part of UB 2020 helped set
the agenda for negotiations in Albany leading to support for the
move of the School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences to a new
The University at Buffalo is a premier research-intensive
public university, a flagship institution in the State University
of New York system and its largest and most comprehensive campus.
UB's more than 29,000 students pursue their academic interests
through more than 300 undergraduate, graduate and professional
degree programs. Founded in 1846, the University at Buffalo is a
member of the Association of American Universities.