BUFFALO, N.Y. — Robert G. Shibley, dean of the University
at Buffalo School of Architecture and Planning, will receive the
American Institute of Architects’ prestigious Thomas
Jefferson Award for Public Architecture.
The recognition puts Buffalo and Western New York in the
Among other accomplishments, the jury cited Shibley’s
leadership in producing award-winning plans for Buffalo, spurring
new investment and elevating public expectations for design and
He directed efforts to draft Buffalo’s comprehensive plan,
along with plans for the city’s waterfront, Larkin District
and Olmsted park and parkway system.
In 2003, a regional action plan he helped develop envisioned
Buffalo as the center of public life and commerce in Western New
York. Called the “Queen City Hub,” the document carried
the dedication, “To people everywhere who love Buffalo, N.Y.
and continue to make it an even better place to live life
Shibley won the Jefferson Award in a category that recognizes
public officials or individuals who “have furthered the
public’s awareness and/or appreciation of design excellence
in public architecture.”
"In the post-industrial city, urban design is crucial, and the
history of Shibley's work is very impressive," said William Bates,
chair of the awards jury. "He's done a lot within the city in
planning, and he seemed to be serving as a catalyst for
redevelopment and reuse of the waterfront as well as other types of
sites. We were really impressed with his commitment to the area and
the impact he had made through various projects."
"An award like this is really recognizing broadly based and
long-running collaborations with colleagues at the University at
Buffalo, the School of Architecture and Planning, three mayors and
a host of legislators, and the business and not-for-profit
communities that host us,” Shibley said.
For three decades, Shibley has been a driving force in
reimagining — and revitalizing — Western New York.
Today, the planning efforts he led are bearing fruit in the form
of a booming medical corridor, a downtown where developers are
renovating historic buildings and a waterfront where new businesses
are cropping up.
“Bob has been the insightful, impactful and
determined voice of urban and regional planning in this community
for decades,” said Howard Zemsky, the local developer
responsible for such forward-thinking projects as the
revitalization of the Larkin District. “He brings a
collaborative style and philosophy to the table and he is
relentless in his pursuit of a better Buffalo and Western New York.
Bob and his team at UB have played an integral role in shaping our
economic development planning and implementation in recent
Read a Q&A with Shibley about his decades of work in
Buffalo — and how it feels to witness the region’s
Shibley will receive his award in June at the 2014 AIA National
Convention and Design Exposition in Chicago.
“While we celebrate this recognition, we have to have the
courage to know that we are far from done. There is no tipping
point where the path to a just and equitable city and region
becomes easy,” he said. “One of the most satisfying
results of my work is that conversations about planning and design
in the region today are not only more sophisticated, but more
inclusive than they have ever been.”
Shibley’s leadership in design advocacy is evident through
more than 40 years of public service spanning municipal,
university, federal and state venues.
Shibley, an architect and urban planner, joined UB in 1982. In
1990, he founded the Urban Design Project, an award-winning center
for the study and critical practice of urban design that recently
aligned with the UB Regional Institute and continues to engage in
the region’s most prominent planning and development
initiatives. He assumed his position as dean in 2011.
As UB’s first campus architect, Shibley led the
development of an ambitious comprehensive plan that sets new
standards for campus architecture and advances the competitiveness
of the university.
Using the city-region as his laboratory, Shibley has generated
widely published scholarship on urban design and place-making.
In addition to his work at UB, Shibley’s administrative
and design management service to New York State and the federal
government produced research-based design guides and demonstration
programs for public architecture. Shibley’s service to the
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers led to a Department of Defense
Meritorious Service Award that called his work the “single
greatest advance in design guidance in the history of the
The Jefferson Award is granted annually in three categories.
The other 2014 award winners are James L. Abell and Carole J.
Olshavsky, who won, respectively, in categories recognizing private
sector architects who have made a significant contribution to the
quality of public architecture, and public sector or governmental
agency architects who manage or produce quality public architecture
within their jurisdiction.