New design-build program in affordable housing kicks off with symposium next week

students and faculty onsite at a recent affordable housing project.

Students onsite at a recent affordable housing rehab project in Buffalo. Photo by Douglas Levere

By Dave Hill

Published April 6, 2018 This content is archived.

Robert Shibley.
“The Affordable Housing Initiative is one more in a string of ways our students and faculty can learn from our community as we solve problems with it.”
Robert Shibley, Robert Shibley, dean, School of Architecture and Planning

A new initiative within the University at Buffalo’s School of Architecture and Planning will begin addressing one of the largest needs facing U.S. cities today: affordable housing.

Through coursework, research and participation in studios, students and faculty in architecture, real estate development and urban planning will plan, design and ultimately build single-family or multi-family housing prototypes for underserved neighborhoods on Buffalo’s East or West sides. Prototypes will be replicable both for Buffalo and cities like it across the U.S. The design-build project will also consider innovative design and construction materials and techniques.

The Affordable Housing Initiative represents another chapter in the School of Architecture and Planning’s long history of using Buffalo as a laboratory for projects benefitting the public.

“Buffalo is an extraordinary laboratory. There are so many other cities like this that can benefit from the kind of work that UB is doing in Buffalo,” said 1978 UB graduate Donald Capoccia, who as a managing principal with BFC Partners has nearly 40 years of experience in New York City’s affordable housing market. Capoccia is the founding supporter of UB’s Affordable Housing Initiative.

The need for affordable housing in Buffalo is perhaps greater now than at any point in the city’s history.

Although Buffalo has experienced a resurgence, it has inadequate high-quality housing that is affordable to a significant portion of its population. In addition, like many cities, affordable housing in Buffalo has been heavily dependent on the availability of investments through low-income housing tax credits, the future availability of which is uncertain.

That’s where UB’s Affordable Housing Initiative can make an impact in the community.

“Our school is fully engaged with the community that hosts us. The Affordable Housing Initiative is one more in a string of ways our students and faculty can learn from our community as we solve problems with it,” said Robert Shibley, dean of UB’s School of Architecture and Planning. “It is also the way we keep faith with the mission of our university — we seek out solutions to global problems, like making healthy communities that address the need for affordable housing.”

Initiative kicks off with symposium April 10

To kick off the initiative, UB is convening leading scholars and practitioners in planning, architecture and real estate development for a symposium that will explore current conditions and future trends in housing policy, design and finance, while considering new models for high-quality, affordable housing.

The symposium will take place from 7:30 a.m.-2 p.m. April 10 in Hayes Hall 403 on UB’s South Campus.

Keynote addresses will be delivered by Capoccia and Henry Cisneros, who served as secretary of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development during the administration of former President Bill Clinton. Cisneros is also the founder and chairman of CityView, an investment management and development firm focused on urban residential real estate.

There will also be three panel sessions during the day on the creation of effective public policy; innovations in architecture, design and construction; and new solutions in real estate finance and deal making in a capital constrained market.