Environmental Design : Overview

Department of Urban and Regional Planning

Contact Information

School of Architecture and Planning
114 Diefendorf Hall
South Campus
Buffalo, NY 14214-8032

Phone: 716.829.2133
Fax: 716.829.3256
Web Address: www.ap.buffalo.edu/planning
Ernest Sternberg
R. J. Multari
Assistant Dean for Undergraduate Education
Donna Rogalski
Assistant to the Chair
Susan McDonald
Admissions Support Secretary


We live in times in which our urban and built environments are undergoing unprecedented change. The bachelor of arts and minor in environmental design provide students with the skills to understand, analyze, and solve problems associated with such change, with a view toward community planning, urban development, and the design of sustainable environments. Environmental design applies knowledge of social and behavioral science to plan and design community environments that affect, and are affected by, human behavior. While concerned about humanity's use, misuse, and abuse of the natural environment, environmental design is also concerned with the planned environment which humans build - the "artificial" or designed physical environment - and its ability to meet community needs. More subtly, environmental design includes issues from our economic, physical, political, and social environments. The purpose of environmental design is to gain a better understanding of these community environments, and then apply that knowledge to plan and design improved surroundings. Environmental design addresses the arrangement, appearance, and functionality of towns and cities including the spaces used freely on a day-to-day basis by the general public. This encompasses streets and parks, together with public infrastructure, and privately owned places. In addition, environmental design is concerned with the way these places are experienced and used, as well as other aesthetic elements that contribute to the quality of community environments. Environmental design practitioners develop long- and short-term plans and designs to use land for the growth and revitalization of urban, suburban, and rural communities, while helping local officials make decisions concerning social, economic, physical, and environmental issues.

Environmental design practitioners promote the best use of a community's land and resources for residential, commercial, institutional, and recreational purposes.

The bachelor of arts and minor in environmental design offers a preprofessional course of study grounded in the multidisciplinary traditions of the liberal arts and distinguished by active intervention and experience in the urban and built environment through classroom activity, fieldwork, workshops, and internships.

The Department of Urban and Regional Planning offers a breadth of knowledge through its degree programs on understanding urban and built environments, and teaches skills in information analysis, computing, written communications, and graphic techniques. In addition, the department offers specialized courses in land use, community design, property development, local government policy, economic development, environmental affairs, real estate development, historic preservation, legal issues, and geographic information systems. The preprofessional environmental design program utilizes the dynamic bi-national Buffalo-Niagara region as a laboratory for planning, design, and development.

Founded in 1969, the Department of Urban and Regional Planning has evolved to offer a number of degree programs, including an undergraduate preprofessional bachelor of arts in environmental design (BA Env Dsn) and minor in environmental design, as well as an accredited professional master of urban planning (MUP) degree. In addition, the Department of Urban and Regional Planning offers a dual master of urban planning plus master of architecture (MArch + MUP) with the Department of Architecture, and a dual master of urban planning plus juris doctor (MUP + JD) with the Law School.

Next accreditation visit for all programs: 2012.

Updated: 13 Nov 2012 06:01:05 EST