What's Next?

Looking Forward

Laura Garofalo, Mustafa Faruki, and Emily Kutil talk with students.

03.06.2020 | Elizabeth Gilman | Daniel Hess | Joyce Hwang | Korydon Smith

Elizabeth Gilman: How do you guys see the program developing in the next 5, 10 years, or the next 50 years? Where do you see the school shifting or expanding?

Korydon Smith: I think there are lots of potential answers to that question, and if you were to talk to a wider network of faculty, you would get lots of different answers there. We’re always having conversations in part about applying that same question to the profession and the field and multiple disciplines that surround architecture. What does it mean to provide a professional education toward a profession that is constantly evolving and changing and with different needs? And part of that is responsive, but then part of it is more proactive. In what way do we modify or change our curriculum as a means to have people go out into the field that they themselves are change masters going forward?

The question reverberates across a number of other fields because we see students not only going into architecture but into a lot of allied careers in the construction industry, in fabrication, in government positions, non-profit organizations, and all kinds of things there.

One of the things specific to this school, we have a number of degree programs that we’re looking to build out around the architecture curriculum, and then also bridge between architecture, planning, and real estate development. An example of that is Affordable Housing. To be able to offer programs that are aligned with many of the challenges of the globe today. And so climate change is obviously one of those areas, and we have a sustainability certificate now. Affordable housing could be one of those domains.

The Planning Department has aligned the MUP with the School of Public Health and Health Professions, for MUP/MPH. I think there’s also an expansion into areas related to new digital technologies, and where digital fabrication, digital visualization goes in architectural education, but also how that informs changing practices as well. I think there are a variety of places we could go.

Joyce Hwang: In some of the conversations that you were having with other faculty and students, a really interesting moment I found was when there was a kind of slight disagreement about Eberhard’s attitude toward architectural education. I think you had characterized it, Lizzy, as something like going against conventions, and then Bob quickly said, “No, it’s not about going against conventions because if you go against conventions, you’re actually recognizing the conventions as driving forces.”

And then it was clarified as pushing boundaries, and I think that clarity of attitude is something that we should be striving for as a department, increasingly. I don’t think we quite have that right now because there are so many priorities. And maybe not so much priorities, but there are a lot of interests that faculty in general have, which is what the graduate research groups were sort of born from. It was a kind of combination of faculty interest, but also faculty thinking about what are emerging and pressing issues in our field.

And I think, looking at the areas of focus, the graduate research groups and whether or not they continue as such or if they expand, or what are the kinds of new questions that are defining the discipline. I think that’s something that we will need to address very soon, that will start pushing where we go in the next decade or more.

How can we build more bridges between student educational experiences and faculty research . . . where there’s a reciprocity between students and faculty members.

- Korydon Smith

KS: I think for the faculty for quite some time, and maybe since the origins of the school, there’s been value in plurality.

Daniel Hess: One of our emerging areas of faculty research strength is temperature extremes, and how we can adapt our built environments and urban lives to thermal change. We know that there’s concern that the effects of temperature change do not affect all residents and all locations equally, so we would like to better understand where disparities exist and what we can do to address them.

Another upcoming shift in urban planning is how we engage the era of big data. Big data is already out there in the world since our movements, habits, and preferences are tracked by our digital devices. Urban planners are harnessing this data to better understand how we live our lives and how we can improve our lives, and to ensure that we have responsible systems in place to pass along to the next generations.

As these and other changes happen, I think we’ll have to rely upon urban planning research and practice to ensure that, in all of our actions, we consider equity and inclusivity. Planning should help give a voice to groups who are under-represented in processes related to urban change.

EG: That kind of relates to my next question, relating to these changes and evolutions in the school, do you guys see that more as implementing something in the freshman year and watching it play out? Or is it more student-driven or faculty-driven evolution?

JH: I don’t know if I would say that change is implemented only in freshman year. I think for every studio the faculty teaches or coordinates, or seminar, that there’s an approach to it that it’s almost like a water droplet. It’s like a drop that kind of ripples out. It’s not so much that the freshmen drop is one big puddle, and that kind of pushes everything like a tsunami, but I think everyone kind of produces their own water droplet, and they all ripple against each other. So, I think the changes can come from anywhere. They could come from the history curriculum, for example, understanding what the narratives that shape our discipline and shape the way we understand culture are.

Three students working together in studio.

02.24.2020: The African American Students of Architecture and Planning (AASAP) aims to create a network of students, community leaders, department faculty, and graduates to establish stronger connections between the School of Architecture and Planning and local communities. The group facilitates engagement of underrepresented students with minority communities in Buffalo. (photo by Melanie Morales)


ELIZABETH GILMAN: MArch Student, Fred Wallace Brunkow Fellow (2019 - 2020), Editor


DANIEL HESS: Professor and Chair - Department of Urban and Regional Planning
JOYCE HWANG: Professor and Associate Chair - Department of Architecture
KORYDON SMITH: Professor and Chair - Department of Architecture