School of Architecture and Planning opens doors to community for 50th anniversary celebration

Poster of 50th anniversary alumni celebration with program details and a graphic of "50+".

by Rachel Teaman

Published March 30, 2022

Members of the university and surrounding community are invited to join the School of Architecture and Planning on April 5-6, 2022, for a series of public events and exhibitions marking its 50th anniversary.

Deferred more than two years due to the pandemic, the 50+ Anniversary Celebration program opens the School’s doors wide to the community, putting the work of faculty, students and alumni – across five decades – on full display.

“This is a coming together like no other, at a time like no other,” said Dean Robert G. Shibley, a SUNY Distinguished Professor in architecture and urban planning. “After two years of separation, we’re thrilled to invite community members into our spaces for learning and making as we celebrate 50 years of inspiration and impact – in our region, around the world, and across our professions.”

The two-day program includes an open house event featuring the School’s studios, shop facilities and research centers alongside displays of faculty and student work; a special exhibition of the School’s work in Buffalo over 50 years; an alumni exhibition; and a symposium front-lining young alumni driving innovation across the built environment professions. Members of the public can learn more about the program and RSVP at

Founded in 1969, amidst the turbulence of the late-1960s, the “School of Architecture and Environmental Design” was conceived as a radical experiment in architectural education that situated design and planning in relationship to social, economic and cultural contexts. The program also emphasized hands-on, activist teaching and research that deeply engages the City of Buffalo and communities around the world.   

Today, the School offers accredited professional degrees in architecture and urban planning, SUNY’s only master’s degree in real estate development, and specialized degrees in affordable housing and historic preservation. An intensively interdisciplinary program, the School is noted for its practice-based research enterprise exploring fields including climate resilience, food systems planning, inclusive design, sustainable building, and health equity. Its faculty consistently rank at the top of their peers in the Association of American Universities for research funding and awards. Meanwhile, the School’s work in Buffalo has not only transformed the city but propelled the School onto the global stage as a model for community-driven teaching and research.

Festivities kick off the evening of April 5, when guests are invited to the soft opening of “A City and its School,” an installation of two internationally-debuted exhibitions exploring the urban landscapes of Buffalo and the School’s work within them over the past 50 years. 

On display at the CEPA Gallery are “See It Through Buffalo,” a documentary short and cinematic tribute to the varied urban landscapes of Buffalo, where faculty and students work hand-in-hand with the community to address issues such as energy-efficient design, economic development, food systems planning, and affordable housing. The 15-minute film debuted in Venice, Italy, in 2018, for the Time Space Existence exhibition at the Venice Architecture Biennale. It was co-produced by the School with noted Buffalo filmmaker John Paget of First + Main Films.

The film will be installed alongside an exhibition showcasing the School’s engagement of more than 2,000 citizen voices in the planning of the Ralph C. Wilson, Jr., Centennial Park emerging on Buffalo’s Lake Erie waterfront. “Buffalo Constructing Buffalo: From Olmsted to Van Valkenburgh,” featured in the 2021 edition of Time Space Existence, is a visual narrative interpreting the civic planning process behind the park, the foundation of city plans that informed it, and the best practices research that inspired it. 

The exhibition captures the collective impact of hundreds of acts of planning, design and making in the city and region led by faculty, students and the citizens of Buffalo over the past half century. In addition to the soft opening for guests of the 50+ celebration, the public is invited to the official opening reception for “A City and its School” on Friday, April 8, 5 pm – 8 pm. “A City and its School” runs through April 30, 2022, as part of CEPA Gallery’s “Celebrating Erie County” exhibition marking the county’s bicentennial.

Also set for April 5 is an Alumni Welcome Reception open to faculty, students, alumni and local professionals at Duende in Buffalo’s Silo City. 

The April 6 program opens at 1 pm in Hayes Hall with the Sydney Gross Alumni Symposium, featuring a panel of 11 young graduates leading practice innovation in architecture, urban planning and real estate development. 

Following the symposium, guests will convene in the Hayes Hall Atrium Gallery for a reception and the unveiling of the 50+ Alumni Exhibition, featuring 50+ alumni, in 50 images, over 50 years. Mounted in two floor-to-ceiling grids, the 50 images can be viewed as personal stories of creative drive. Taken together, they reveal a story of collective impact, mobilized by a shared ambition to improve communities. 

The program will conclude with an expanded version of a celebrated, decades-old School tradition. “Open Studio” invites the community into more than a dozen studios in architecture, urban planning, environmental design and real estate development. Displays of faculty and student work will be on view throughout the School’s facilities. Additionally, the School’s research centers will present their work and guide visitors through their spaces. A special presentation on the in-progress renovation of Crosby Hall, the heart of the School’s undergraduate studio experience, will be offered by the project’s renovation architect, Andrew Berman.   

Program of events

Tuesday, April 5

"A City and its School"
4 pm - 6 pm
CEPA Gallery
617 Main St # 201
Buffalo, NY 14203
(exhibition runs through April 30, with formal opening on April 8, 5 pm - 8 pm)

Alumni Reception
6 pm - 8 pm
Duende at Silo City
85 Silo City Row, Buffalo, NY 14203

Wednesday, April 6

2022 Sydney Gross Alumni Symposium
1 pm - 5 pm
Hayes 403, UB South Campus

50+ Alumni Exhibition Opening
5 pm (remarks at 5:15 pm)
Hayes Hall Atrium Gallery

Open Studio
5 pm - 8 pm
Hayes Hall, Parker Hall, Hayes + Acheson Hall Annexes

Sydney Gross Alumni Symposium lineup.

The Sydney Gross Alumni Symposium convenes 11 alumni leading innovation in practice across the built environment professions

“We are at a moment of possibility, with the built environment professions mobilizing in new ways on the complex challenges facing cities today, from the climate crisis to critical shortages in affordable housing," said Dean Robert G. Shibley. “Next week, we invite all who are interested in the future of cities to join us in imagining our next 50 years and all that’s possible when we work together toward a better world.”

Shibley, who himself has been a faculty member in the School for 40 years, says the 50+ Anniversary Celebration acknowledges this current of experimentation and place-based teaching and research that continues to drive the School and its more than 6,300 alumni at work around the world. 

“We are at a moment of possibility, with the built environment professions mobilizing in new ways on the complex challenges facing cities today, from the climate crisis to critical shortages in affordable housing. In a world once again calling for radical change, we draw upon our founding ethos to push at the boundaries of our disciplines toward more resilient, equitable and vibrant places for all.”

Shibley welcomed members of the broader university and surrounding community to join the conversation. “Next week, we invite all who are interested in the future of cities to join us in imagining our next 50 years and all that’s possible when we work together toward a better world.”