Undergraduate Degree & Course Catalog

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: ap.buffalo.edu/planning
Ernest Sternberg
Daniel Hess
Associate Chair
R. J. Multari
Assistant Dean for Undergraduate Education
Donna Rogalski
Assistant for Undergraduate Education


Environmental design refers to the physical surroundings that provide the setting for human activity, ranging in scale from buildings and parks, green space to neighborhoods, the local community, as well as supporting infrastructure, such as roads and expressways. Environmental design is defined as the physical and constructed environment in which people live, work, and recreate on a day-to-day basis.
University at Buffalo Environmental Design addresses the arrangement, appearance, and functionality of neighborhoods, towns, and communities, including the physical 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 and natural resources for the growth and regeneration of urban, suburban, and rural communities, while helping local officials make decisions concerning development, preservation, physical, and environmental issues. Environmental design promotes the best use of a community's land and physical resources for residential, commercial, institutional, and recreational purposes.

Environmental Design provides students with the skills to understand, analyze, and solve problems with a view toward community planning, physical development, and the design of sustainable environments. Environmental design utilizes knowledge from the social sciences and applied arts to plan and develop community environments that affect, and are affected by, human behavior. More subtly, University at Buffalo Environmental Design addresses issues from our historic, physical, political and urban environments, including infrastructure, natural scenery, buildings, ecological features, local government, and transportation systems. 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 physical surroundings.

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

University at Buffalo 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 design. In addition, the department offers specialized courses in land use, urban design, community development, local government policy, economic development, environmental assessment, real estate development, historic preservation, site planning, infrastructure development, legal issues, and environmental 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, University at Buffalo 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 Design) 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. In partnership with University at Buffalo Architecture, Urban and Regional Planning offers SUNY's only advanced graduate certificate (Adv Crt) in historic preservation, and a joint proposal for a master of science concentration in real estate development is awaiting final approval from SUNY and the NYS Education Department. Finally, the Department also offers the only PhD in urban and regional planning in the State University of New York system.

Last updated: August 18 2022 17:03:08