Release Date: November 19, 2008
BUFFALO, N.Y. -- The University at Buffalo today unveiled a draft of a plan to dramatically redesign and reconfigure its three campuses -- giving each campus a new identity and purpose -- with the goal of making UB a great place to live, learn and work.
The draft of UB's comprehensive physical plan was presented and exhibited at a daylong public forum held on UB's South (Main Street) Campus that was expected to draw more than 600 people, including business and community leaders, local residents and UB students, faculty, staff and alumni. Attendees were asked to critique the plan and offer suggestions to make it better.
"We know that great universities live on great campuses," UB President John B. Simpson said. "As this draft plan demonstrates, UB's campuses can be great places -- campuses that are more accessible, more supportive of intellectual endeavor, more sociable, more sustainable and more beautiful."
Development of a comprehensive physical plan is a major component of UB 2020, the university's plan for achieving academic excellence and securing UB's place among the best public research universities in the nation. The physical plan will complement two major components of UB 2020: a strategic focus on UB's research strengths and growing the university by 10,000 students and 2,500 faculty and staff. UB's growth is projected to add more than $1 billion a year to the local economy and has the potential to create 10,000 new jobs.
"These are hard times for New York State and for the nation, and I understand that many people will ask how we can contemplate investing in our campus at a time when budgets are being slashed," Simpson said. "But looking to the broader horizon, investing in UB 2020 has never been more important, not only for UB, but also for Buffalo, the region and the state."
Completion of the draft is a milestone in a yearlong process involving input from UB's leadership, faculty and staff and members of the community, in consultation with renowned planners and designers Beyer Blinder Belle, DEGW, Foit-Albert Associates, Andropogon Associates, VFA and
Buckhurst Fish and Jacquemart. The "Building UB" team is led by James A. "Beau" Willis, executive vice president for university support services, and Robert G. Shibley, UB professor of architecture and planning and senior advisor to Simpson for campus planning and design.
The public is invited to review the draft plan online and submit feedback at www.buffalo.edu/ub2020/plan.
"We are seeking detailed feedback on the proposals outlined in this draft," Shibley said. "The plan is specific enough and flexible enough to provide opportunity for the UB community, UB's neighbors and UB's community partners to influence the plan's direction."
The draft plan focuses on making each of UB's three campuses beautiful, accessible and environmentally sustainable. It recommends a distinctive urban design for each campus, shifting professional schools and academic programs from the North (Amherst) Campus to the South Campus, construction of new buildings and addition of new landscaping on both campuses, and creation of an Academic Health Center on the Downtown Campus.
The plan addresses transportation -- the ways in which people will get to the UB campuses, how they will travel between them and where they will park when they arrive.
"We are supportive of high-quality, high-capacity transit service to UB's North Campus," Shibley said. "Our preference is to achieve a one-seat ride from downtown Buffalo to Amherst.
"On the North Campus, one of our goals is to eliminate one lane of the Audubon Parkway and replace it with a pedestrian and bikeway loop."
The plan also defines strategies for limiting UB's energy use, reducing the university's carbon footprint and promoting sustainable practices. And it details a vision for creating public spaces that promote the social and intellectual life of the university, producing a "learning landscape" that supports the ways students learn today.
According to the plan, each UB campus will be assigned a new and distinct identity in support of the university's core academic mission:
• The North Campus is envisioned as the "academic heart" of the university, home to UB's College of Arts and Sciences, the core of the UB undergraduate experience, and the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences. It will be more accessible, sustainable, attractive, sociable and lively. For example, the plan calls for creation of a "Main Street" corridor of student residences, retail services and bike paths linking the Ellicott Complex to the Academic Spine of the North Campus.
• The South Campus will become the center of professional education in law, executive education, social work and architecture and planning. It will preserve classic quadrangles and historic
structures and be better integrated with nearby neighborhoods. For example, a new amphitheater tucked into the escarpment on the Main Street lawn will create a community performance venue where there once was surface parking. An estimated 2,000 additional faculty, staff and students will populate the South Campus under the plan.
• A new Downtown Campus will bring to downtown Buffalo the five schools in UB's Academic Health Center -- Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, Nursing, Public Health and Health Professions, Dental Medicine and Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences. Their downtown presence will promote research, clinical and educational collaboration with the region's leading hospitals and the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus and will bring new life to downtown Buffalo, as well as an estimated 13,000 UB students and employees.
The plan will be finalized in April and will be continually updated and adapted during each phase of implementation.
Simpson noted that UB already is moving ahead with several fully funded projects, guided by goals and principals of Building UB. This includes $60 million in critical maintenance projects throughout UB and investment of $165 million in downtown Buffalo to fund construction of a new Educational Opportunity Center, creation of a UB Downtown Gateway building in the renovated M. Wile Co. building and creation of a Clinical and Translational Research Center and UB Biosciences Incubator in the Global Vascular Institute planned by Kaleida Health.
On the South Campus, UB is moving forward with several projects, including renovation of Kapoor Hall and extensive renovation of the child-care center. On the North Campus, UB has finished the second phase of resurfacing Founders Plaza, is moving forward on construction of a new building for the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, will construct a mixed-use South Ellicott Student Complex and is expanding the campus child-care center.
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 28,000 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.