Environmental Design : About The Program

About Our Degrees

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 develops 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.

Acceptance Criteria - Environmental Design BA

Minimum GPA of 2.45 overall.
Minimum GPA of 2.5 in PD 120 and PD 212.
Minimum completion of 24 credit hours.
Successful completion of the Library Skills General Education Requirement
Competitive admission on a space available basis; preferred applicants should have a minimum UB GPA of 2.5 overall. Contact School of Architecture and Planning Academic Services for more information.

Acceptance Criteria - Environmental Design Minor

Minimum GPA of 2.0.
Minimum B- in PD 120 or PD 212.

Acceptance Information

Deadlines: May 31 for fall admission and October 15 for spring admission. The Environmental Design BA is completed within six semesters.

Applicants with an earned baccalaureate degree should contact School of Architecture and Planning Academic Services prior to applying to the pre-professional Environmental Design BA for alternative academic advisement and information on the accredited professional Master of Urban Planning (MUP) degree program.

As admission is competitive, applications for the Environmental Design BA received after May 31 for Fall admission consideration and October 15 for Spring admission consideration will be reviewed on a space-only available basis as guided by the School of Architecture and Planning's admission statement. Contact the School of Architecture and Planning Academic Services for advisement assistance.

Number of applicants (2011-2012): 70
Number of accepted majors (2011-2012): 42
Total number of majors currently enrolled (2011-2012): 98

Declared pre-environmental design majors are granted provisional admission as School of Architecture and Planning general studies majors.

Admissions Statement

The School of Architecture and Planning has an admission policy that actively encourages applicants from protected groups and does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion, gender, sexual orientation, national origin, disability, or veteran status. Admission is competitive, and; applicants are reviewed according to the admission criteria. Acceptance of students in the preprofessional, professional, and postprofessional programs is determined on the basis of the applicants' qualifications and experience. However, since the school's size is limited, the programs may exercise discretionary powers of selection. Courses and programs offered by the School of Architecture and Planning may include an instructional support services fee. Contact School of Architecture and Planning Advisement Academic Services or visit http://wings.buffalo.edu/ap/ for additional information on undergraduate admission and advisement.

Advising Information

All students in the School of Architecture and Planning have access to faculty mentors upon admission to the School. In addition, School of Architecture and Planning Academic Services is available for assistance. Students are encouraged to consult regularly with their advisors and mentors in matters pertaining to academic options, course selection, postbaccalaureate studies, and career opportunities. Students meet with advisors and mentors as often as they choose to explore educational opportunities available within the School of Architecture and Planning and the University at Buffalo, and to plan a course of study that is consistent with their abilities, achievements, interests, and expectations. The ultimate goal of advisement is to empower students to use the tools and resources available to become active and responsible learners. Visit http://advising.buffalo.edu for additional information on undergraduate advisement.

Degree Requirements

Please see Degrees and Policies.

About Our Facilities

The Architecture and Planning Library, located in Abbot Hall, is one of ten libraries within the University at Buffalo. In addition to its book and journal collections, the Architecture and Planning Library collection includes student theses, maps and plans, a vertical file, a collection of CD-ROMs, census materials, and computer-aided design work.

The Digital Media Laboratories comprise two sets of facilities: a central collection of laboratories and computing classrooms, and a collection of distributed facilities located in the graduate and undergraduate architecture and planning studios. A wide variety of software packages is provided to support the specific needs of architecture and planning students. Input and output resources include a variety of specialized devices, including color scanners, a large-format scanner, a slide scanner, a film recorder, several digital cameras, CD-R/CS-RW writers, and large- and small-format digitizers. Hard-copy output is provided through laser printers, color printers, and a large-format color postscript plotter.

The design studios and workshops, located within the School of Architecture and Planning, have more than 63,000 net square feet of studio and studio support space including four critique rooms, wet cells for plaster and paint work, a full-service plotting and printing facility, and a total of six educational technology classrooms, including a newly renovated, 115 seat, educational technology lecture hall. Digital technology is distributed throughout the studios, reflecting our belief that digital media should be seamlessly integrated with the making and representation of architecture and planning. Studio and workshop spaces are networked and outfitted with multiple high-end computers supporting a wide range of CAD, GIS, and graphic software programs.

The Architecture and Planning Materials and Methods Shop, is available for schoolwide projects and independent work. This complete machine and assembly shop, one of the finest in any U.S. architecture and planning school, contains 7,000 square feet of high-bay space and is supplied with full woodworking capabilities, welding and milling equipment, lathes, sheet-metal machines, a vacuum-forming machine for molding plastic, and a variety of hand tools.

The Visual Resources Center is a joint School of Architecture and Planning and University Libraries facility. It directly supports the curriculum with its growing collection of over 31,500 slides, 250 videotapes, and audiovisual equipment. It is linked to the university's other collections through the University Libraries' online computerized index service.

Intersight is a schoolwide, student-edited scholarly journal published biennially. The founders of the journal set out to create a participatory forum for distinguished colleagues, faculty, graduates, and students to express their views and ideas about architecture and urban planning. The mission of Intersight is to publish writing, research, and design work that reflects the intellectual life of the School of Architecture and Planning.

Community Outreach Programs. Environmental design students in the Department of Urban and Regional Planning have unrivalled access to agencies, municipalities, and local leaders for information, resources, and undergraduate internships. Workshop courses offered in the preprofessional environmental design program focus on real-world exercises in planning and design throughout the Buffalo-Niagara region. In the senior-year workshop, environmental design students work with a public, private, or nonprofit client to analyze and engage in the social, economic, political, and physical design issues associated with complex planning problems. Recent clients have included the City of Buffalo, New York; Social Bicycles (SoBi)/Buffalo CarShare; Tonawanda Township, New York; Amherst Township, New York; the UB Regional Institute, Pendelton Township, New York; the UB Center for Inclusive Design and Environmental Access; Heartland Forest Niagara; Buffalo's Massachusetts Avenue People United for Sustainable Housing neighborhood coalition; Buffalo's Broadway-Fillmore community development corporation; the Roycroft Revitalization Corporation; Buffalo's University Heights Community Initiative; Hilbert College; and the Burchfield-Penney Art Gallery located at Buffalo State College.

About Our Courses

Suggested Introductory Courses

PD 120 Introduction to Urban Environments
PD 212 Urban and Environmental Planning
PD 245 Urban Development Law and Policy
PD 279 Exploring Buffalo Niagara

The typical class size for:

Freshman/sophomore introductory courses is: 120
Upper level/advanced courses is: 20-35

For course descriptions, please see Courses.

About Our Faculty

Senior faculty from the Department of Urban and Regional Planning teach many courses in the undergraduate preprofessional environmental design program. In addition, some courses are taught by professional urban planners, public administrators, environmental educators, and community developers. Visit our Web site at http://www.ap.buffalo.edu/planning/people to learn more about the department's faculty.

Practical Experience and Special Academic Opportunities

Undergraduate Research and Practical Experience

Internships. Environmental design students have the opportunity to work in urban or regional agencies in such areas as housing development, local government, neighborhood planning, transportation, community development, environmental affairs, land use, and urban design. Environmental design internships may be available with the Center for Urban Studies, the Urban Design Project, the Regional Institute, and the Center for Inclusive Design and Environmental Access. Interested students should contact each research center for more information about available opportunities.

Study Abroad. Traveling can enhance students' awareness of the world, bringing them closer to understanding global diversity, and appreciating what is universal and unique to a culture.

Study abroad programs, such as Estonia; London, England; Havana, Cuba; Aruba, Dutch Antilles; Greater Toronto, Canada; India, and Brisbane, Australia,; will be offered on an ad-hoc basis by the Department of Urban and Regional Planning and the UB Office of Study Abroad based upon faculty and student interest. Visit http://wings.buffalo.edu/studyabroad/ for more information.

Research Centers. As a member of the prestigious Association of American Universities (AAU), the University at Buffalo considers advanced research integral and fundamental to its mission. Consequently, the School of Architecture and Planning faculty are actively involved in the creation of new knowledge through sponsored research, creative design work, and text-based scholarship. This research activity is intertwined with the departmental curricula, allowing students to take full advantage of the faculty's expertise. The Department of Urban and Regional Planning is affiliated with the following centers, providing students interested in the urban and built environment with an opportunity for applied research activities:

The Center for Urban Studies, South Campus. A research and service entity seeking solutions to the problems facing central cities and metropolitan regions. Founded in 1987, the Center conducts action-based research on community and economic development, focusing on the needs and issues of traditionally marginalized groups, including blacks, Latinos, Asians, Native Americans, women, and low-wage workers. Recent projects include a community health study of Buffalo's East Side, analysis of vacant lots and community economic development opportunities for Buffalo's Fruitbelt neighborhood, and a physical design analysis of the city's Old First Ward. The center employs graduate students to assist with projects, including The Cyberhood, an online resource to engage and educate viewers on issues of neighborhood and community development.

The Urban Design Project, South Campus. A university center devoted to research, teaching and scholarship in the pursuit of a critical practice of urban design. Founded in 1990, it focuses on issues of community development and urban revitalization while fostering the intellectual exploration of architecture and planning. From 1994 through 1999, the project led the five-year public visioning process for downtown Buffalo and all its council districts. The project also oversaw the master planning and conceptual design development for the facilities supporting the Bosque Eterno de los Ninos and the Instituto de Monteverde in Costa Rica. More recently, it has led the effort to develop the City of Buffalo's Downtown Strategic Plan. The work of the Urban Design Project has encompassed faculty consultations, student internships, studio projects, and supervised thesis investigations dealing with New York sites ranging from Niagara Falls to Buffalo to Jamestown and engaging such institutional partners as Buffalo Place, the City of Buffalo, the Waterfront Regeneration Trust, the City of Niagara Falls, and the Chautauqua County government, as well as several regional and national architectural and planning firms. Students participate in the UDP through urban design studios, community design service internships, and work opportunities related to major research and professional projects.

Center for Inclusive Design and Environmental Access, South Campus. The IDEA Center is dedicated to improving the design of environments and products by making them more usable, safe, and appealing to people with a wide range of abilities through their life spans. It is active in basic and applied research, design development, community service, and education. Current programs focus on home modifications, functional assessment, and universal design within the urban and constructed environment. Since 1999, the center has been the home of the Rehabilitation Engineering Research Center on Universal Design and the Built Environment; awarded a grant by the National Institute for Disability and Rehabilitation Research, it is the only federally sponsored research and development center in this field. The IDEA Center receives additional funding from state and local governments and private sources; it runs an active educational program in the university, sponsors continuing education activities for professionals, completes basic and applied research, and offers technical services to the community.

The University at Buffalo Regional Institute, Downtown Campus. The institute initiates and supports efforts to strengthen Western New York and the Buffalo-Niagara region. A major public service program of UB, the institute contributes to and supports regional planning, government efficiency, economic development, service delivery, and other areas crucial to the region's vitality. The UB Regional Institute conducts research, assists municipal and county governments, and sustains ongoing projects including the State of the Region Project, the Western New York Regional Information Network, and the Regional Economic Development Database project.

Cyburbia.The Internet's oldest portal site for urban planners and others interested in cities and the built environment - contains a selective directory of Internet resources relevant to planning and urbanism. Cyburbia also includes information about mailing lists and newsgroups, and it hosts a very active bulletin board and image hosting gallery. Cyburbia was founded in 1994 by UB master of urban planning alumnus Dan Tasman.

Honors, Awards, and Scholarships
The Department of Urban and Regional Planning gives a series of annual awards and prizes to honor undergraduate environmental design student excellence. These include:

  • The Dean's Award for Academic Performance to the continuing environmental design student with the highest grade point average.
  • Award of Academic Excellence to the graduating environmental design senior with the highest grade point average
  • Chair's Award for Excellence to the graduating senior who excelled in and contributed most to the bachelor of arts in environmental design program
  • R. Buckminster Fuller Award (biannually) to the graduating senior who is continuing on for graduate studies within the UB School of Architecture and Planning and exemplifies attributes of creativity, inventiveness, and intellectual excellence
  • Departmental Honors are awarded to graduating environmental design students who achieve a high level of academic excellence and ingenuity within the Department of Urban and Regional Planning.

Extracurricular Activities

These include the Graduate Planning Student Association and the Environmental Design Student Association. For additional information, call 716-829-2133.

See the UB Student Association.

Complementary Programs and Courses

Note: As a professional school, the School of Architecture and Planning does not participate in undergraduate joint majors, but undergraduate double majors or undergraduate minors are academic options available for Environmental Design students.

Majors that Complement Environmental Design

Minors that Complement Environmental Design

Links to Further Information About this Program

Updated: 13 Nov 2012 06:01:05 EST