Will and Nan Clarkson Visiting Chair

For more than 30 years, the Will and Nan Clarkson Visiting Chair program has invited distinguished scholars and professionals to campus for lectures and seminars that engage students, faculty, practitioners and members of the public in knowledge-sharing, scholarship and debate on critical issues in architecture, planning and design. 

the clarksons.

Will and Nan Clarkson

Will Clarkson was a former chairman and chief executive officer of Graphic Controls, for many years one of Buffalo’s largest public, multinational companies. Clarkson joined the school community in 1980 as an adjunct professor in urban and regional planning. In 1991, Will and his wife, Nan, bestowed the gift that endowed the Clarkson Chair, a program that continues to enrich the life of our School. Since its founding, the program has supported 50 visiting chairs, all on the leading edges of research and practice in our professions.

Will and Nan were also dedicated to the Buffalo community and spent much of their lifetime giving back through generous support of causes as diverse as education, Buffalo's downtown and neighborhood development, as well as the studio and performing arts. Will and Nan had a particularly deep passion for Buffalo architecture. In 2011, they donated a Frank Lloyd Wright-designed art glass window to the Martin House Restoration Corporation for display in the reconstructed carriage house of the Martin House complex. The window was only one of two to survive after the original carriage house was demolished in 1962. Will Clarkson was instrumental in the production and publishing of “Buffalo Architecture: A Guide" in 1981, which continues to shape the city's historic preservation movement. He also chaired the Main Genesee Design Task Group in the 1980s, which led to the creation of Fountain Plaza downtown.

Sadly, Will passed away in 2018 and Nan in 2020. Steadfast friends of the School, both Will and Nan could always be seen in the front row of the Hayes Hall lecture hall for the Clarkson lectures. The couple hosted many of our guests at their home for dinner and continued conversation. We will miss them and remember Will and Nan fondly always for their generous support of our program and for their contributions to public dialogue across the design and planning professions.

2022-23 Clarkson Chair: Sheila Foster

  • Sheila Foster, 2022 Clarkson Chair in Planning

    Sept. 20-21, 2022

    Sheila Foster, the Scott K. Ginsburg Professor of Urban Law and Policy at Georgetown, comes to UB Sept. 19-22 as the 2022 Will and Nan Clarkson Chair in Planning. She is a highly acclaimed expert on environmental law and justice and urban land use law. 

Previous Clarkson Chairs

Read more about our most recent Clarkson Chairs and watch their public lectures
  • Sierra Bainbridge, 2021 Clarkson Chair in Architecture

    March 10, 2021
    We are pleased to welcome Sierra Bainbridge of MASS Design Group as the 2019-20 Clarkson Chair in Architecture. Bainbridge leads MASS Design's work on the Kayanja Center, a rural health care center in Uganda, and school projects in the DRC, Tanzania, Zambia and Rwanda. 

  • KunlĂ© Adeyemi, 2020 Clarkson Chair in Architecture

    Sept. 23, 2020

    We're pleased to welcome Kunlé Adeyemi as our 2020 Clarkson Chair in Architecture. Adeyemi, an architect, designer and development researcher, is the founder and principal of NLÉ – an architecture, design and urbanism practice for innovating cities and communities. 

  • Vanessa Watson, 2019 Clarkson Chair in Planning

    Nov. 6, 2019

    Vanessa Watson, professor of urban planning at the University of Cape Town, is UB's 2019 Will and Nan Clarkson Chair in Planning. She will present a public lecture on the disconnect between visions for and realities in African cities and engage in workshops with faculty, students and community members.

  • Rahul Mehrotra | Clarkson Chair in Architecture

    Sept 26, 2018

    Architect, urbanist and educator Rahul Mehrotra presents "Working in Mumbai," an exploration of his firm's use of the city and region as a generator of practice that operates through a more elastic definition of the profession in response to the landscape.

  • Clarkson Week in Planning with john powell

    Feb. 6 - 10, 2017

    Professor john a. powell, director of the Haas Institute for a Fair and Inclusive Society, comes to UB to  explore issues of race, equity and social justice in relation to the built environment.

  • Clarkson Week in Planning with Todd Swanstrom

    October 26 - 30, 2015

    Join us for two public events as noted urbanist Todd Swanstrom addresses the socioeconoimc and place-based inequalities behind racial tensions across urban America.