Greg Delaney emcees E-wards Day for the School of Architecture and Planning, a playful twist on the school's annual celebration of student achievement.
Garima Gupta (MArch '20) receives her surprise package of UB swag in recognition of her hard work this semester as a teaching assistant. Gupta was one of several students to receive the surprise parade greeting of faculty and staff.
"Sir Prizes," the honorific title bestowed upon a masked, and caped Greg Delaney, who led the parade and greeted student awardees with their "surprise."
His black permed wig blowing in the wind, N. Cognito sprinted in and out of the scene with bags of UB swag. His "cognito cam," a GoPro camera, captured it all on tape. He was later revealed to be MArch student Charles Wingfelder.
More than a dozen faculty and staff, including Dean Robert Shibley, participated in the parade to greet student awardees with prizes, a warm greeting, and good cheer, all from a safe distance.
Making a cameo appearance, and offering a royal introduction of "Sir Prizes" was professor Brian Carter, a native Britain.
Published May 7, 2020
If there’s ever a time for comic relief and celebration of our students, this is it.
As a semester of unprecedented challenge comes to a close, students, faculty and staff of the School of Architecture and Planning were treated to just that with “E-ward’s Day”, a virtual and fun-filled twist on the school’s annual celebration of student excellence.
Drawing thousands of viewers as it played “live” on Facebook last Friday, May 2, the hour-long virtual ceremony was veritable theater, complete with a cast of costumed characters and a parade delivery of prizes to student homes.
Conceived and produced by a team of faculty and staff led by Lindsay Romano, Gregory Delaney, Korydon Smith, and Randy Fernando, the program drew upon touchstones of the school’s annual Award’s Day, which regales students with confetti, prizes and good humor in a festive celebration of student excellence leading up to final reviews and exams.
Taking things up a notch, the team saw the opportunity for a fun film-making project, with a spy thriller theme. Consider the plot: a band of masked (of course) faculty and staff parading through the city and showing up at students’ homes with prizes.
Greg Delaney, clinical assistant professor of architecture, whose energetic emceeing of Award’s Day is a student favorite, took on the role of “Sir Prizes.” He led the parade and greeted each award-winning student with a flair of his cape, a tap of his cane and a tongue-in-cheek “surprise!”. At each stop, the sprightly “N. Cognito,” cloaked in a UB-blue plastic tablecloth, donning a black permed wig, and carrying a GoPro camera, dashed in and out of hiding to drop bags of UB swag off at the doorsteps of the award-winning students.
Five students – graduate students who have shown particular dedication this past semester as teaching assistants for undergraduate courses – received the personal awards presentation. The whole production was carried out at a safe distance.
Romano, who serves as manager of the school’s Fabrication Workshop, says the team drew its creative energy and inspiration from the students. “I think we have all learned a few valuable lessons over the past six weeks. As we sit behind screens in our homes, we are reminded now more than ever that college isn’t just about academics, it’s about community, friendships, breaking out of comfort zones, and forever bonds. This year E-wards Day really showcased all of those amazing and important college experiences.”
The doorstep-delivery of prizes was complemented in the final ceremony with a welcome from Dean Robert Shibley, and the presentation of the full slate of awards by urban planning chair Daniel B. Hess, and associate chair of architecture Joyce Hwang.
In the end, nearly 60 students were recognized for their academic achievements, including the induction of 28 students into the Tau Sigma Delta Honor Society in Architecture and Allied Arts. Awards were presented at the school, departmental and degree levels in recognition of design excellence, studio performance, highest-achieved GPA, community engagement, and service to the school. Greg Hyatt of Hyatt’s All Things Creative presented the Hyatt’s Design Award. The company, where many students purchase their architectural supplies, has also sponsored the three $1,000 scholarships and 20 $100 gift cards for students.
Shibley said the event is testament to the resilience and strong sense of community that binds the school.
“These past seven weeks have tested us in ways we could never have imagined. E-wards Day – and the creative team that put it together – is another example of how we’ve pivoted, adapted and persevered. It was pure fun, all in honor of our students. We needed this.”
“With all the challenges this semester, and with how busy students, faculty, and staff have been, we debated canceling Awards Day,” says Korydon Smith, professor and chair of architecture. “Thankfully, the importance of recognizing student accomplishments, especially this year, won out. Providing a moment of levity was an added bonus. It was fun to plan, uplifting to carry out, and exciting to hear the reactions.”
MArch student Garima Gupta, who was among the five students to receive her award via parade, couldn’t stop smiling as she took in the surprise and familiar faces. “What a wonderful surprise. It was very sweet of everyone who took the time to be there. I loved it.”
The Architecture Graduate Student Association also presented the 2020 Gary Day Award, which honors an architecture faculty member for their leadership and dedication to students in and out of academic realm. Nicholas Rajkovich, assistant professor of architecture and director of the Resilient Buildings Lab, was honored for his dedicated teaching, support of student’s overall wellbeing, and for his service to the environment through his research on climate-resilient design and building.
Jenna Herbert, an MArch student who along with Courtney Vona virtually presented the Gary Day Award to Rajkovich on behalf of the ArchGSA, said the event brought the school together when they needed it most.
“Having awards day continue online meant so much to me as a student, but also as a TA for first-year studio. Seeing our freshman students experience their first awards day and continue to engage with everyone was reassuring, knowing they didn’t have to miss out on such a fun tradition.”
The final production further exemplified the team spirit and creative effort behind the project.
Randy Fernando, an alumnus of UB and adjunct faculty member, produced the hour-long video ceremony with spy thriller flair, featuring quick cuts, grainy black and white footage, and a jazzy James Bond-esque musical score.
MArch student Charles Wingfelder, later revealed to be N. Cognito, showed up to the parade expecting to help with filming. "Instead I was greeted with a box of props, including a poncho, sunglasses, and one very wild wig. I'm not usually one to play the clown, but it's a blast to let loose when your identity is so thoroughly obscured!"
A special cameo appearance was made in the final cut by architecture professor and dean emeritus Brian Carter, a native of Britain who, playing into the honorific title, offered a royal introduction of “Sir Prizes.”
“Hear ye, hear ye…all you architectural and planning subjects from UB, now ensconced in the new world and territories of home studios, closet offices, captured corners, kitchen counters and digital lands near and far, we send you a warm welcome and our most sincere greetings to all. We meet today for an announcement that comes to you from the gracious halls of Hayes. Behold at the strike of the Hayes bell [dong, dong], it hereby comes to pass that within these hallowed halls, will arise one Sir Prizes. I bid you rise…Sir Prizes.”
The Facebook event, which has been viewed by more than 3,500 people and has received hundreds of comments from faculty, students, staff, alumni, and friends of the school, can be viewed here.
Tau Sigma Delta inductees
Design Excellence Award in recognition of outstanding studio work in our Graduate Research Groups:
Chair's Award In recognition of consistent, high caliber design work performed in design studios / Michael Hoover
Design Academic Excellence Award in recognition of highest overall GPA to a returning student in the BAED program / Omar Ibrahim
Design Academic Excellence Award in recognition of highest overall GPA to a graduating student in the BAED program / Alexa Ringer
Bachelor of Arts in Environmental Design Excellence in Studio Award / Tiffany Fong
Bachelor of Arts in Environmental Design Public Service Award / Joshua Rogers
Bachelor of Arts in Environmental Design Service Award in recognition of a BAED student who exemplifies outstanding service to the Department and School / Bridget Dooley
R. Buckminster Fuller Award, sponsored by the Friends of the School of Architecture and Planning in recognition of extraordinary innovation and inventiveness in design / Rey Medina
Michael J. Krasner Memorial Scholarship: Awarded by the Western New York Chapter of the American Planning Association and the UB Department of Urban and Regional Planning in recognition of planning excellence and a commitment to professional practice in Western New York / Christopher Platt
Master of Urban Planning Academic Excellence Award in recognition of highest overall GPA in the MUP program for a returning student / David Kelly
Master of Urban Planning Academic Excellence Award In recognition of highest overall GPA in the MUP program for a graduating student / Grace DeSantis
Master of Urban Planning Excellence in Studio in recognition of outstanding studio work to a MUP student in the Department of Urban and Regional Planning / Nina Zesky
Master of Urban Planning Public Service Award / Julia White
Master of Urban Planning Service Award in recognition of of a MUP student who exemplifies outstanding service to the School and Department / Grace DeSantis
Master of Urban Planning Chair's Award in recognition of a student who exemplifies the best traditions of professional responsibility and academic promise / Megan Koury
Master of Science in Real Estate Development Student Excellence Award in recognition of a MS RED student who exemplifies the highest standard of professional responsibility and academic promise for a graduating student Joshua Fraass
Master of Science in Real Estate Development Excellence in Studio in recognition of outstanding studio work to a MSRED student in the Department of Urban and Regional Planning / Joseph Quinn
Master of Science in Real Estate Development Excellence in Studio Award in recognition of outstanding studio work to a MSRED student in the Department of Urban and Regional Planning / Nicholas Aja
Master of Science in Architecture—Historic Preservation Student Excellence Award in recognition of a HS HP student who exemplifies the highest standard of professional responsibility and academic promise for a graduating student / Tabitha O’Connell