Edward Steinfeld to Receive Prestigious Haecker Award

Steinfeld (above left) is the third architect with UB ties chosen for this honor. Photo: Douglas Levere.

Steinfeld (above left) is the third architect with UB ties chosen for this honor. Photo: Douglas Levere

By Cory Nealon

Published July 24, 2014 This content is archived.


Edward H. Steinfeld, SUNY Distinguished Professor at the University at Buffalo’s School of Architecture and Planning, will receive one of his field’s most significant honors: the James Haecker Award for Distinguished Leadership in Architectural Research.

Presented by the Architectural Research Centers Consortium (ARCC), the award recognizes individuals who have “made outstanding contributions to the growth of the research culture of architecture and related fields.”

A pioneer and leading scholar in the field of inclusive design, Steinfeld’s research centers on designing products and built environments that are more accessible, safe and friendly for all people, including those who are often marginalized.

His research on design for disability is the foundation for accessibility codes and regulations in the U.S., including the Americans with Disabilities Act Accessibility Guidelines. That work is widely cited by other researchers and helped establish UB as a leader in rehabilitation research.

“When we think of the most impactful architectural research of the past forty years, Edward Steinfeld's research and influence on inclusive design has been unquestionably profound,” ARCC President Keith Diaz Moore said. “Our built environment today is more equitable and empowering to a more diverse population due to his work and its impact on policy, advocacy and design. We as an organization could not be more pleased to recognize Dr. Steinfeld's clear leadership and distinction in our discipline with this year's James Haecker Award.”

Steinfeld, ArchD, AIA, joined the UB faculty in 1978. Six years later founded the IDeA Center (the Center for Inclusive Design and Environmental Access) which is dedicated to increasing the adoption of inclusive design practices.

Under Steinfeld’s guidance, the center has become an internationally renowned, multidisciplinary research initiative that includes six other UB faculty members and a staff of seven full-time researchers and professionals.

It is one of the most successful and long-lived research programs in architecture and environmental design in the U.S. In addition to sponsored research, the center offers services to the Western New York community, New York State and corporate sponsors.

"Ed’s research, teaching and critical practice at UB over the past 30 years has fundamentally established the field of universal design as an academic discipline and profession," said Robert G. Shibley, dean of the School of Architecture and Planning, who is a James Haecker Award recipient himself.


"Through the IDeA Center, he’s put UB and its School of Architecture and Planning on the map as leading public research institutions. Most importantly, his work has brought a sensibility to architecture and its related disciplines that changes the way we design buildings, environments and products and, ultimately, improves the quality of life for those of all abilities, ages and backgrounds.”

Steinfeld is the principal investigator for the Rehabilitation Engineering Research Center (RERC) on Universal Design and the Built Environment. The center has received funding from the National Institute for Disability and Rehabilitation Research for three, five-year cycles, making it the largest funded research and design program on universal design in the world.

The center works to produce an improved evidence base for universal design, develop new research tools, innovative products and voluntary standards, and disseminate educational resources on universal design to an international audience.

Beth Tauke, associate professor of architecture and a colleague of Steinfeld for nearly 30 years, nominated Steinfeld for the award: "Without question, Ed has played a major role in the advancement of architectural research, service, and education through his lifelong pursuit of practices that foster more competence, independence and social integration through changes in the design of the built environment," said Tauke, who is affiliated with the IDeA Center and is herself a leading scholar of universal design. 

Steinfeld also is an influential writer. He is one of the authors of the seminal Principles of Universal Design, a framework for designing beautiful and functional environments for all people, regardless of age, gender, ability or change in ability. The principles have been translated into many languages and are instrumental in defining the concept throughout the world.

His more than 100 publications include “Universal Design: Creating Inclusive Environments” and "Inclusive Housing: A Pattern Book: Design for Diversity and Equality.” Steinfeld also has received many awards and honors.

Created in 1976, the ARCC is international association committed to the expansion of research culture and supporting infrastructure in architecture and related design disciplines.

The Haecker award is named for James Haecker, founding secretary of the ARCC.

Steinfeld is the third architect with UB ties to receive the honor. Previous winners are Shibley and John Eberhard, the school’s founding dean.