Environmental Design

Look around you. From the building you live in to the bike path you take to school or work to the farmer’s market you visit to buy healthy food, the built environment touches every aspect of your life.

It is also closely tied to some of the most complex problems facing cities today, from climate change and community health to public safety and housing affordability.

If you’re interested in how the world around you takes shape—and you want to help communities create places that are not only beautiful, but also sustainable, healthy and equitable for generations to come—then environmental design could be the field for you.

What will I learn?

As an environmental design major, you’ll study what people need (and want) in a community. You’ll explore design in relationship to the natural world and the social and political systems of our society and how these factors affect what gets built, where and how. And you’ll work across scales—from buildings to neighborhoods to regions—to create designs and plans that improve the places in which people live, work and play. Here at UB, we prepare community-minded designers and planners with skills in policy analysis, geographic information systems, architectural design and environmental law. You’ll jump right into our spirited community of makers and doers with hands-on work, from the classroom to the city and world around us.


What can I do outside of class?

Through site visits, fieldwork, workshops, internships and other opportunities, you’ll engage firsthand in projects taking place in the resurgent City of Buffalo, from redesigning our streets for walkability to planning for new immigrant communities to addressing racial inequity through neighborhood development. UB students have worked on a wind energy project for the shores of Lake Erie, designed a plan for Buffalo’s African-American Heritage Corridor, and partnered with community groups and government agencies to offer their services—and get real-world experience. Looking for more? Consider studying abroad (our school has the largest study abroad program at UB) and taking part in our annual Career Trek NYC to meet with employers and alumni and tour project sites throughout New York City.

Study Abroad

What can I do with an environmental design degree?

Director of planning and development for a major U.S. metro area. Historic preservation expert at an award-winning architectural firm. Design director for a neighborhood organization focused on social and environmental equity. These are a few of the actual jobs held by our graduates. With the skills they learned at UB, our alumni are leading practice innovation across the fields of environmental design, including:


  • Community and neighborhood development.
  • Construction management.
  • Economic development.
  • Educational administration.
  • Environmental management and restoration planning.
  • Geographical information systems.
  • Historic preservation.



  • Industrial development and brownfield redevelopment.
  • Planning for cities, counties, townships, villages and rural areas.
  • Property management.
  • Real estate assessment and development.
  • Site planning and development.
  • Transportation analysis.
  • Zoning and land use.


In addition, many of our environmental design students pursue graduate study in architecture, urban planning and real estate development.

Who will I learn from?

At UB, we offer a collaborative, inclusive learning environment that supports your intellectual development and overall well-being. You’ll work closely with faculty and your peers in studio, connect with industry experts in the community, and hear from thought leaders from around the world through our public lecture series. Our faculty are pioneering scholars, known worldwide for their research in climate action, racial justice, food systems planning, sustainable development and affordable housing. They are also global citizens with experience studying and practicing in settings as diverse as rural villages in Kashmir, the rapidly urbanizing city of Accra, Ghana, and small towns and villages across the U.S.