Undergraduate Degree & Course Catalog

Environmental Design - About The Program

About Our Degrees

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.

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 people. 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.

University at Buffalo 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 surroundings.

The bachelor of arts in environmental design and environmental design minor offer 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.

Acceptance Criteria - Environmental Design BA
Minimum GPA of 2.45 overall.
Minimum GPA of 2.5 in PD/END 120 and PD/END 212.
Minimum completion of 24 credit hours.
Successful completion of the Library Skills General Education Requirement
Admission on a space available basis; preferred applicants should have a minimum UB GPA of 2.5 overall. Contact School of Architecture and Planning Undergraduate Academic Services for more information http://ap.buffalo.edu/academics/undergraduate-degrees/baed.html. The Environmental Design BA is completed within 6 semesters.

Acceptance Criteria - Environmental Design Minor
Minimum GPA of 2.0.
Minimum B- in PD 120 or PD 212.

Acceptance Information
Deadlines: May 15 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 Undergraduate 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 at http://ap.buffalo.edu/academics/graduate-degrees/mup.html

Applications for the Environmental Design BA received after May 15 for Fall admission consideration and October 15 for Spring admission consideration will be reviewed on a space-only available basis as guided by the Buffalo School of Architecture and Planning's admission statement. Contact the School of Architecture and Planning Undergraduate Academic Services for advisement assistance at http://ap.buffalo.edu/academics/undergraduate-degrees/baed.html.

Number of accepted majors (2015-2016): 40
Total number of majors currently enrolled (2015-2016): 90

Admissions Statement
The Buffalo 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 advanced graduate 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 Buffalo School of Architecture and Planning may include an instructional support services fee. Contact School of Architecture and Planning Undergraduate Academic Services or visit their website at http://ap.buffalo.edu/admissions/undergraduate-programs.html for additional information on undergraduate admission and advisement.

Advising Information
All students in the Buffalo School of Architecture and Planning have access to faculty mentors upon enrollment into the School. In addition, advisors with School of Architecture and Planning Undergraduate Academic Services are available for assistance. Students are encouraged to consult regularly with advisors and faculty mentors in matters pertaining to academic options, course selection, postbaccalaureate studies, and career opportunities. Students meet with advisors and faculty mentors as often as they choose to explore educational opportunities available within the Buffalo School of Architecture and Planning and the University at Buffalo 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 Buffalo School of Architecture and Planning IT Services 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 urban planning studios. A wide variety of software packages is provided to support the specific needs of 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 Digital Fabrication Workshop provides a range of the latest equipment dedicated to material research, model making, and digital fabrication. The Digital Workshop includes two Universal Laser Cutters, two 3D pritners, two CNC routers and a desktop 3D scanner

The design studios and workshops, located within the Buffalo 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, and a full-service plotting and printing facility. Digital technology is distributed throughout the studios, reflecting our belief that digital media should be seamlessly integrated with the making and representation of architecture, environmental design, and urban planning.

The Architecture and Planning Materials and Methods Shop, is available for school-wide projects and independent work. This complete machine and assembly shop, one of the finest in any U.S. architecture and urban 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
directly supports the curriculum with its ever-growing collection of slides, audiovisual equipment and an extensive image database. It is linked to the university's other collections through the University Libraries' online computerized index service. The center also produces videorecordings of the school's lecture series and other events.


Intersight - Intersight is a school-wide, student-edited scholarly journal published biennially. The founders of the journal set out to create a participatory forum for distinguished colleagues, 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 University at Buffalo Urban and Regional Planning have unrivaled access to agencies, municipalities, and local leaders for information, resources, and undergraduate internships. Workshop courses offered in the pre-professional 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 development, economic, political, and physical design issues associated with complex planning problems. Recent clients have included:
  • Erie Canal Harbor Development Corporation
  • Buffalo Audubon Society
  • the City of Buffalo, New York
  • Social Bicycles (SoBi)/Buffalo CarShare
  • Tonawanda Township, New York
  • Amherst Township, New York
  • the UB Regional Institute
  • Pendleton 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
  • the Burchfield-Penney Art Gallery located at Buffalo State College.

About Our Courses

Suggested Introductory Courses
END 120 Introduction to Urban Environments
END 212 Urban and Environmental Planning
END 275 Environmental and Landscape: Discovering Landscapes
END 279 Exploring the Design of Buffalo Niagara
END 285 Transportation and Urban Life

The typical class size for:
Freshman/sophomore introductory courses is: 120-180
Upper level/advanced courses is: 20-40

For course descriptions, please see Courses.

About Our Faculty

Senior faculty from University at Buffalo Urban and Regional Planning teach many courses in the undergraduate preprofessional environmental design program. Two faculty members from Urban and Regional Planning have been recognized with the SUNY Chancellor's Award for Excellence in Teaching. In addition, some courses are taught by professional urban planners, public administrators, environmental educators, historic preservationists, architects, designers, and community developers.

Please visit our department website for additional information about our faculty.

Practical Experience and Special Academic Opportunities

Undergraduate Research and Practical Experience

Internships. University at Buffalo 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 (END 496) may be available with the Center for Urban Studies http://centerforurbanstudies.ap.buffalo.edu/, the University at Buffalo Regional Institute - http://regional-institute.buffalo.edu/, The Food Systems Planning and Healthy Community Lab - http://foodsystemsplanning.ap.buffalo.edu/, and the Center for Inclusive Design and Environmental Access - http://idea.ap.buffalo.edu/. 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, Newcastle, England, Havana, Cuba, Aruba, Dutch Antilles, and Greater Toronto, Canada 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 their website at https://www.buffalo.edu/studyabroad.html 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 Buffalo 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. University of Buffalo Urban and Regional Planning is affiliated with the following centers, providing Environmental Design 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.

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 http://regional-institute.buffalo.edu/, Downtown Campus.
The University at Buffalo Regional Institute/Urban Design Project is a major research enterprise for the School of Architecture and Planning. The Regional Institute (UBRI) has been the go-to source for practical policy research for more than a decade, and the Urban Design Project (UDP) has been closely involved in many of the most important planning, design, and development initiatives in Buffalo Niagara since 1990. Collaborative projects with the Buffalo School of Architecture and Planning faculty span topics as diverse as food-system security, responses to climate change, green transportation systems, inclusive design, situated technologies (the use of technology embedded in buildings), sustainable community development, planning for extreme events (such as earthquakes or hurricanes) and many others.

Food Systems Planning and Healthy Communities Lab, South Campus
Food is integral to human sustenance and to quality of life. Yet the food system which delivers food from farm to table is often overlooked in urban and regional planning decisions. The Food Systems Planning and Healthy Community Lab at the University at Buffalo, is dedicated to research that critically examines the role of planning and policy in facilitating sustainable food systems and healthy communities. The 'Food Lab' team conducts research, builds capacity of planners through education and training, and engages in community-based efforts to build sustainable food systems and healthy communities.

Honors, Awards, and Scholarships
University at Buffalo 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 University at Buffalo 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 University of Buffalo Urban and Regional Planning.

Extracurricular Activities

These include the Graduate Planning Student Association, Alpha Rho Chi, and the Environmental Design Student Association. For additional information, visit https://ap.buffalo.edu/People/related/student-organizations.html

See the UB Student Association.

Complementary Programs and Courses

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

Majors that Complement Environmental Design

Minors that Complement Environmental Design

Links to Further Information About this Program

Last updated: February 22 2022 21:08:39