SUNY Distinguished Professor
Director, Rudy Bruner Center for Urban Excellence
Rudy Bruner Chair in Urban Excellence
Senior Fellow, UB Regional Institute
School of Architecture and Planning
As a teacher, scholar and practitioner of architecture and planning for more than 50 years, Robert (Bob) Shibley has dedicated his career to advancing knowledge-based design and placemaking in service to the public.
In recognition of his lifetime contributions to design excellence for the public, the American Institute of Architects presented Shibley with the prestigious 2014 Thomas Jefferson Award for Public Architecture.
Shibley served as dean of the University at Buffalo's School of Architecture and Planning from 2011 to 2023, guiding the school to a top position in research generation among the nation’s schools of architecture and planning. His tenure with UB dates back to 1982, when he was recruited as a full professor and chair of the Department of Architecture. He continues to hold professorships in both architecture and urban planning and was advanced to the rank of State University of New York Distinguished Professor in 2021.
In 1990, Shibley founded The Urban Design Project (UDP), a university center for the study and critical practice of urban design. Under his leadership, the center developed an international award-winning ensemble of plans for the City of Buffalo’s downtown, waterfront and Olmsted park system, and its city-wide comprehensive plan. Rooted in conversations with 6,000 city residents, the work has laid the foundation for Buffalo’s current renaissance, spurring new investment and elevating public expectations for design and planning.
In 2011, Shibley organized UDP’s alignment with the UB Regional Institute (UBRI), a center for planning and policy research. He directed the joint enterprise, now branded under the UBRI name, which has provided research, public engagement and planning support for a new wave of regional planning efforts, including the WNY Regional Economic Development Council’s strategic plan and the subsequent “Buffalo Billion” investment plan. Under his leadership as principal investigator, UBRI has also guided the nationally award winning “One Region Forward” initiative to develop a federally recognized regional plan for sustainable development in Erie and Niagara Counties. Stepping down from the directorship in 2015, Shibley continues to develop scholarship as a UBRI senior fellow, a role he has held since 2005.
Over the course of four decades, Shibley has worked with faculty, staff, students and collaborating publics on over 80 Buffalo-based projects totaling more than $25 million in sponsored work. The projects received global attention for their impact on the people and places of Buffalo and the region. The work is also viewed as a model for university-community partnerships in city-making and place-based teaching, research and critical practice.
In his role as director of the Rudy Bruner Center for Urban Excellence at UB (RBC), Shibley will now advance placemaking innovation on a national scale. Supported by a $5 million endowed fund from the Bruner Foundation and building on the national Rudy Bruner Award for Urban Excellence, the RBC will serve as a living resource and tool for research, scholarship and practice related to urban development and the process of enabling beautiful, just and resilient places. The center will be partnered with the UB Regional Institute and the UB Libraries, which will establish the Rudy Bruner Award Collection.
Shibley led the development of UB 2020: The Comprehensive Physical Plan as a Senior Advisor to the President (2006-10). Now UB’s Campus Architect, Shibley advises on implementation of the plan, which calls for the construction of a 3.6-million-square-foot academic health center in downtown Buffalo and the expansion of facilities across UB’s three-campus footprint. Shibley has helped raise design standards for public universities through international design competitions for UB’s new $375 million downtown medical school and the UB Solar Strand, a ground-mounted solar array and land-art installation on UB’s North Campus. As chairman of UB’s Environmental Stewardship Committee, Shibley guided development of UB's Climate Action Plan to achieve climate neutrality by 2030.
Shibley has authored or co-authored 17 books - notably including Placemaking: The Art and Science of Building Community; Urban Excellence; and Time Savers Standards for Urban Design - and more than 120 book chapters, government publications and articles in the professional and academic press. He is co-author of the Rudy Bruner Award for Urban Excellence, created in 1986 to honor great places.
Shibley is the recipient of a total of twenty life-time achievement awards including the national James R. Haecker award for leadership in architectural research from the Architectural Research Centers Consortium, the University at Buffalo President’s Medal and the New York State AIA 2014 Nelson Rockefeller Award for Public Architecture. He is a fellow of both the American Institute of Architects and the American Institute of Certified Planners. His work has been recognized by several professional organizations including the American Planning Association, Congress for New Urbanism, International Economic Development Council, Preservation League of New York State and Progressive Architecture magazine. In 2016, he was named as one of the 25 Most Admired Educators by DesignIntelligence.
Throughout his career, Shibley has consulted internationally in service of excellence in the professions and design education, including commissions with with the American Institute of Architects and appointments to the Erie Canalways National Heritage Corridor Commission and NYS Fire Prevention and Building Code Council along with service in New Zealand, France, Russia, and South Korea. In his previous roles with the U.S. Army’s Office of the Chief of Engineers and the U.S. Department of Energy, Shibley helped produce research-based design guides, demonstration programs and curricula.
Shibley holds a Bachelor of Science in Psychology and a Bachelor of Architecture degree from the University of Oregon. He earned a Master of Architecture in Urban Design from the Catholic University of America.