School of Architecture and Planning Wins Top National Prize

In the past year, faculty and students in the School of Architecture and Planning at the University at Buffalo have received a number of important awards from major national and international professional associations. Now the school itself has received a significant national award, the 2005 Grand Prize for Creative Integration of Practice and Education in the Academy from the National Council of Architectural Registration Boards (NCARB).

The prize, which carries with it a $25,000 cash award, was inspired by the landmark 1996 study by Lee D. Mitang and Earnest L. Boyer for the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching titled, “Building Community: A New Future for Architectural Education and Practice.” The UB entry highlighted the work of the school’s Small Built Works Studio and included a series of projects designed and built in Buffalo by the studio over a three-year period. It was one of 33 submissions from schools across the country with degree programs accredited by the National Architectural Accrediting Board.

Brian A. Carter, dean of the UB School of Architecture and Planning, said the award, is “an important national recognition by both the academy and the profession of the excellent standard of work, inspired teaching and vital commitment of the students to design in the service of the wider community that is at the very foundation of our school in Buffalo.”

Bradley A. Wales, AIA, clinical assistant professor of architecture at UB, said some 120 undergraduate and graduate students have taken part in the studio, which represents a unique aspect of civic engagement advanced by the school to further university-community collaboration and improve the physical environment.

Mehrdad Hadighi, professor and chair of the UB Department of Architecture, noted that the school’s long tradition of civic engagement has resulted in significant commitments to and by the City of Buffalo and the communities of which the school is a part. “We have simultaneously developed a tradition in the critical engagement of the design and in the making of architecture,” he says, “and Professor Wales has brought these traditions together very creatively in the Small Built Works Studio.”

The studio was initiated as part of an effort to provide students with the complete experience of the design and construction process. The competition entry focused on projects that emphasize green design, renewable energy strategies and tectonics. Speaking on behalf of his fellow jurors, C. Robert Campbell, FAIA the 2003 president of NCARB, referred to UB’s “remarkable entry in this competition, which sought creative initiatives that integrate the academy and the profession within a design curriculum.”

Students worked to follow the entire sequence from conceptual design, schematics and the presentation of proposals to the community to the preparation of applications for city and council approvals, creation of shop drawings and the fabrication of projects that included three bus shelters, a kiosk, four bike racks, a sculpture park and a monument to Frederick Law Olmsted. Five other submissions, prepared by Miami University, the University of Arkansas, the University of Florida, the University of Illinois (Chicago), and the Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, were recognized with awards of $7,500. Entries from North Carolina State University and the University of Utah received honourable mentions.