Campus News

UB grads key players on One World Café design team

School of Architecture and Planning alums, Peter McCarthy and Luke Johnson along with School of Engineering alum, Amir Rezaei , make up the team from Cannon Design working on One World Café. Also pictured, second from left is Rober Shibley.

From left: UB graduates Amir Rezaei, Peter McCarthy and Luke Johnson, all members of CannonDesign’s One World Café project team, talk with architecture dean Robert Shibley outside Hayes Hall on the South Campus. Photo: Douglas Levere


Published December 3, 2018

“For those of us on the team who are UB graduates, this is an incredible opportunity to give back to UB in a special way. It’s rare to be able to so directly use the skills you developed at a college or university to then enrich it. ”
Amir Rezaei, UB graduate and engineer

The CannonDesign project team chosen for the global design firm’s partnership with UB on the university’s signature One World Café brings expertise in transformative renovation and award-winning, culinary-focused design, as well as experience working on major architectural projects across Western New York.

And as UB graduates, team members Peter McCarthy, Luke Johnson and Amir Rezaei also bring a unique understanding and appreciation for the university to the project.

The opening of One World Café (OWC), now planned for spring 2021, will meet the demand for expanded dining facilities among a growing campus population, while also bringing to UB an international eatery and community space where students, faculty, staff and visitors can enjoy a diverse selection of foods from around the world in a welcoming, multicultural environment.

OWC will mark completion of the third phase of Heart of the Campus, the UB2020 initiative to enhance the student learning experience by creating a learning landscape in the center of the academic spine.

Project manager Frank Sica, who holds a BS in architecture from the University of Virginia, is one of the most knowledgeable and technically experienced architects in Buffalo, having worked on signature projects for the city, including Buffalo Niagara International Airport, Gates Vascular Institute and academic buildings for UB, Buffalo State College, Canisius College and others.

“Beyond their skills and expertise, the team’s familiarity with and passion for the campus and its community are invaluable,” says Sica, whose close relationship with UB grew out of his design work on the Clinical and Translational Research Center and laboratory master plans for the South Campus.

“Quite literally, three of our team members have walked the UB campus as students and know what it means to be a UB student day in and day out,” he says.

Graham Hammill, vice provost for educational affairs, dean of the graduate school and chair of the OWC steering committee, says student interest and demand for cuisine from around the world has increased.

“At One World Café, students will find authentically prepared foods, and it is expected that different menu cycles will be offered throughout the academic year to keep the experience fresh,” he says.

CannonDesign has extensive experience with campus food service facilities within the SUNY system, Hammill says, and has partnered with UB on major recent projects, including William R. Greiner Hall on the North Campus and the Clinical and Translational Research Center on the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus.

“We are very pleased to be working with CannonDesign’s world-class design team on this unique addition to the campus,” he says.

The team’s approach is truly customized to the bold aspirations of One World Café, says McCarthy, project architect, who holds a master’s degree in architecture from the School of Architecture and Planning and brings a passion for the culinary arts.

“The biggest ideas only succeed when they’re built upon the smallest human-scale moments, like knowing the fastest way through the Spine, the best quiet study spot, or how to find a wider variety of menus at mealtimes,” says McCarthy, who has worked on multiple award-winning, culinary-focused design projects.

“For those of us who lived and learned on the UB campus for so long, this project is a journey and experience that few designers ever embark upon.”

Project designer Johnson strengthens the team with expertise in designing transformational additions to existing facilities and integrating stakeholder feedback into a project’s vision and ultimate design solution.

“As a graduate of UB’s School of Architecture and Planning, my education and time there has enabled me to become an advocate for the profession within our community,” says Johnson, who holds a master’s degree in architecture.

Committing a great deal of time to the Buffalo Architecture Foundation and local public schools, Johnson focuses on creating engaging educational programming that introduces students to the importance of the built environment.

As an engineer, Rezaei specializes in empowering design teams to think about high-performance buildings through the application of data-driven insights.

“A chief goal for me is to help the design team consider different scenarios that can reduce the energy consumption in a new or redesigned building,” says Rezaei, who holds a PhD in civil and environmental engineering from the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences.

“We are excited about the possibilities and potential of this unique addition to the university.”

“We’re proud to see our graduates return to UB to bring to life this vision for One World Café, inspired by CannonDesign and the UB community, as a new center of celebration for global culture across our university,” says Robert G. Shibley, dean of the School of Architecture and Planning.

“The School of Architecture and Planning has for decades benefited from the partnership of CannonDesign, a global institution deeply committed to its home community in Buffalo. This transformative initiative will now help the university prepare for an even brighter future.”

The project will create a “front door” at one of the busiest crossroads of the North Campus, around and under the existing overhangs of Capen Hall and the Founders Plaza courtyard.

Hammill says One World Café will fill a student desire for a less-congested place for eating, gathering and spending time with fellow students, faculty and friends.

“In addition, One World Café will offer opportunities to integrate impactful research being conducted at the university on issues such as sustainability, food security and food equity.”

Hammill says from the onset of the project there has been a priority to include students in the process.

“And from that has come invaluable ideas and feedback that helped shape the design and plan the international cuisine choices to be offered at One World Café,” he says.

Hammill notes there will be an opportunity for additional campus input on the project at an event planned during the spring 2019 semester.

“The design team is excited to see the high level of enthusiasm that has been exhibited by the UB community for this project,” McCarthy says. “We are especially impressed by the many thoughtful and insightful ideas and suggestions that have come from UB students.”

“For those of us on the team who are UB graduates, this is an incredible opportunity to give back to UB in a special way,” Rezaei says. “It’s rare to be able to so directly use the skills you developed at a college or university to then enrich it.”

“We are lucky to each realize how special this opportunity is while we’re in it, and not years down the line,” adds Johnson. “That recognition also drives us to push the boundaries and deliver something remarkably valuable for the campus.”

“This team works together fantastically,” Sica notes. “It is all adding up to a remarkably rich design process and a valuable final design solution for the UB campus and the community.

“We are extremely confident this team will deliver the best possible design solution for One World Café to create a space that future students can be proud of for generations.”