Architecture and Planning Dean Receives Lifetime Achievement Award

Robert Shibley has played a key role in shaping the landscape of Western New York, improving the region's quality of life through good planning and design

Release Date: November 20, 2012 This content is archived.


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Robert Shibley, dean of UB's School of Architecture and Planning, has played a key role in shaping the landscape of Western New York.

BUFFALO, N.Y. -- Robert G. Shibley, dean of the University at Buffalo's School of Architecture and Planning, has received the Robert and Louise Bethune Award, the highest accolade that the American Institute of Architects (AIA) Buffalo/Western New York chapter bestows.

The award, announced on Nov. 15, is a lifetime achievement award. It recognizes Shibley's contributions to the profession of architecture over the past 30 years through practice, mentorship and community leadership.

The architecture honor comes two years after the New York Upstate Chapter of the American Planning Association recognized Shibley with a lifetime achievement award for his contributions to the planning profession.

Over a long and distinguished career, he has helped to shape the region's landscape, playing a leading role in urban design and planning initiatives including the City of Buffalo's comprehensive plan, the "Queen City Hub" plan for downtown Buffalo, and master plans for the Buffalo waterfront, the Larkin District, the Buffalo Olmsted Park System, and the City of Niagara Falls.

This past year, Shibley led a jury of community leaders and Kaleida Health officials in developing and then judging a design competition for the reuse of the Millard Fillmore Gates Circle Hospital in Buffalo.

As UB's first campus architect, Shibley has played a pivotal role in shaping UB's campus footprint, including its expansion downtown.

Shibley chaired the committee that conducted the design competition to select an architectural team for designing the UB School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences' new downtown Buffalo home. He also led the international competition that chose world-renowned landscape artist Walter Hood as designer of The Solar Strand, a 3,200-panel photovoltaic array that opened on UB's North Campus this April.

Both of these impressive facilities are part of the university's award-winning master plan, "Building UB: The Comprehensive Physical Plan," whose development Shibley spearheaded.

The plan guides development of facilities and public spaces on UB's three campuses. It envisions UB's North Campus as a vibrant, sociable living and learning community, and UB's South Campus as a center of professional education. Under "Building UB," UB's Downtown Campus is undergoing a transformation into a hub for teaching, research and clinical care in the biomedical sciences.

Shibley, a professor of architecture and urban and regional planning, joined UB's faculty in 1982. He assumed his position as dean in 2011. 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.

A certified planner and licensed architect, he was elevated to the status of Fellow in the American Institute of Architects in 2010. The designation of Fellow is the highest honor the national AIA can bestow upon a member.

In the community, Shibley has gained a reputation as a consensus building visionary, engaging members of the public in discussions about how the region's urban design and architectural landscape can meet their needs. In the classroom, he has helped to train the next generation of architects and planners, teaching courses from large undergraduate lectures to intimate graduate seminars.

"Over the past three decades, Bob has contributed to all aspects of the built environment in Western New York based on his commitment to design excellence and the principle that design is the public's business," says Kelly Hayes McAlonie, president of AIA New York State and interim associate vice provost of UB's Capital Planning Group. "But his legacy, as a professor before all else, is in the work of his students as they carry these principles in their practice across our region and world."

"I view the award as the celebration of a long-running collaboration among colleagues at the University at Buffalo, the School of Architecture and Planning and the communities that host us," Shibley said. "It is wonderful to work with people who understand that city- and region-building are team sports."

A biography of Shibley is available at

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Charlotte Hsu is a former staff writer in University Communications. To contact UB's media relations staff, email or visit our list of current university media contacts.