the university of buffalo at school of architecture planning

University at Buffalo School of Architecture and Planning Giving Back to the City Through Innovative Place Making

Ian Mutuli
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The city of Buffalo was once the epitome of the American dream for the most parts of the 20th century. As the 21st century approached, the city began to decline, enabled by several reasons including the industrial downturn that affected the vast majority of people who lived and worked there.

With the decline, several challenges began to sprout up from one corner of the city to the next. Testament to the depreciation were dilapidated and abandoned warehouses, factories, buildings, and homes. People moved to find greener pastures.The city lost nearly a half of its population leaving it almost a shell of its former glory.

However, in the recent past there has been extensive rejuvenation. For the millions of residents who stayed and painstakingly waited for the city to get back to what it used to be, it is a relief. Formerly abandoned buildings are being renovated, warehouses that were left to rot in the wake of the city’s fall are now being re-purposed and finding new meaning. The University at Buffalo School of Architecture and Planning wants to be at the centre of this rejuvenation.

The school, which is driven by the sense of place and impact on communities is using the city of Buffalo to test concepts on how spaces are derived and built.

The best laboratory in the world is the one right outside your door. So we work and learn with our host community. ~ Robert Shibley, Professor and Dean, The University at Buffalo School of Architecture and Planning

Following the decline, several sites within the city are asking for intervention in one way or another. Students at the architecture school are immersing themselves into the derivation of solutions, which they then design and build directly into these sites. The city directly benefits from having an architecture school within its community, as it benefits the school with challenges that need addressing through architectural and design solutions. The eventuality is a process of learning and interactive design between the architecture school and its neighbourhood.

Through a new film that seeks to highlight this unique but very needful collaboration between architecture schools and the cities that host them, the University at Buffalo School of Architecture and Planning is showcasing their work at the Time Space Existence exhibition in Venice, Italy. The school’s participation at the Venice Biennale 2018 extends a collaborative hand to designers and architects across the world to delve into solutions that define better living for the 21st century and beyond.

The trailer of the film courtesy of architectural film makers, Plane – Site, shortly digs into the schools mission and vision for the Biennale.

Ian Mutuli

About the author

Ian Mutuli

Founder and Managing Editor of Archute. He is also a graduate architect from The University of Nairobi, Kenya.