Architectural Research Centers Consortium Cites UB's Robert Shibley for Lifetime Achievement In Architecture Field

Release Date: April 2, 2004 This content is archived.


BUFFALO, N.Y. -- Robert G. Shibley, professor of architecture and director of the Urban Design Project in the University at Buffalo School of Architecture and Planning, has been named the sixth recipient of one of his field's most prestigious awards -- the James Haecker Distinguished Leadership Award for Architectural Research presented by the Architectural Research Centers Consortium (ARCC).

Shibley received the award at the 92nd annual meeting of the Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture held in Miami Beach earlier this month. It is named for James Haecker, founding secretary of ARCC, and is given for a lifetime of professional achievement.

ARCC is an international not-for-profit consortium of architectural research centers founded in 1976 that is committed to the expansion of research culture and infrastructure in architecture and related design disciplines. It has exerted a concerted commitment to the improvement of the physical environment and the quality of life.

The group selected Shibley for the award because of his "outstanding contributions to the growth of the research culture of architecture and related fields" and for demonstrating in professional practice, academics and service "a record of sustained and significant research leadership accomplishment at a national or international level."

In naming him, the ARCC took note of Shibley's accomplishments during his tenure with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE); as professional advisor to the Rudy Bruner Awards for Urban Excellence, and his accomplishments as former chair of the UB Department of Architecture and director of the School's Urban Design Project, among other citations.

In his letter of nomination, Rich Wener, associate professor of environmental psychology at Brooklyn's Polytechnic University, wrote that what distinguishes Shibley's body of work from that of other design researchers "is his unique ability to take into account and effectively deal with the variety of issues, disciplines and perspectives that affect the creation and success of urban design projects."

Wener calls Shibley "an accomplished and creative designer, planner and researcher…uniquely able to combine those skills with an understanding of organizational and political systems.

"His knowledge and ability to use group dynamics makes his research both more relevant and more likely to result in real and positive change," he wrote.

Shibley's UB colleague, Edward Steinfeld, professor of architecture, director of the School's Center for Inclusive Design and Environmental Access, and a noted researcher himself, says Shibley "has never passed up an opportunity to translate the hard-won lessons of architectural practice into usable research for the profession and the public."

As a project engineer for the Army Corps of Engineers 30 years ago, Shibley spearheaded the creation of design guidelines for military facilities driven by the then radical idea that personnel around the world could participate in the design of buildings based on local needs and conditions. He also directed research on the impact of the new buildings on volunteer retention.

He later managed the Passive and Hybrid Solar Division of the DOE, including a $45 million demonstration, research and education program for commercial buildings.

His private consulting practice with Lynda Schneekloth, "The Caucus Partnership," has married the expert knowledge of design professionals with the knowledge of communities and organizations-in-place. It resulted in their influential book, "Placemaking: The Art and Practice of Building Communities."

From 1982-91, Shibley helped mold the UB Department of Architecture into a well-regarded graduate program led by a cadre of active architectural researchers. He helped create the Rudy Bruner Awards for Urban Excellence, which celebrates the complex social processes that lead to the creation of great cities and communities.

In 1990, he founded UB's Urban Design Project, which incorporates the university's mission to teach, conduct research and provide service through community engagement with Buffalo's downtown, its neighborhoods and waterfronts; through research and service, regional growth management and bi-national heritage development.

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