Local chapter of American Planning Association honors students, curricular innovation at UB

Published June 12, 2023

The Western New York section of the American Planning Assoiation recently recognized two curricular efforts in urban planning as best practice as part of its annual awards program.

2023 WNY APA Award for Best Practice – Student Project
Smart Growth in the Steel City: Utilizing Form-Based Zoning to Foster Resiliency, Sustainability, and Placemaking in Lackawanna (Master of Urban Planning studio, Fall 2022)

A Master of Urban Planning studio that developed a proposal for smart growth through form-based zoning in the City of Lackawanna has received the WNY APA Best Practice award for a Student Project.

Directed by UB urban planning faculty member Camden Miller, the studio engaged students with citizens and community leaders in Lackawanna to create a Downtown Revitalization Initiative (DRI) focused on equitable and sustainable growth and development. The plan will be used by the city to apply for DRI funds through New York State's economic development program.  

The final report recommends 15 downtown revitalization projects that align with the city's Comprehensive Plan, including maps and renderings and detailed analysis of policy implications. Students interviewed community leaders, explored precedent studies and conducted a Strength-Weakness-Opportunity-Threat (SWOT) analysis of Lackawanna to shape their recommendations. 

According to Miller, "Our report was prepared with the intent of gaining real-world experience and proposing meaningful projects for the City of Lackawanna. Taking a community-first mentality, we hope that our project recommendations within the downtown business corridor can prosper and evolve with the City's own vision for its future."

Graduates of the 2022 cohort of the Citizen Planning School.

Graduates of the 2022 cohort of the Citizen Plannng School

Citizen Planning School recognized as best practice in Public Outreach in the student cateogry

Since its launch in 2015, the Citizen Planning School and its “Champions for Change” program has graduated dozens of citizen activists with inspired ideas to improve their communities. Organized as a credit-bearing course in the Department of Urban and Regional Planning, the annual program pairs citizens and students in a series of hands-on workshops that provide research, design, planning and technical assistance to advance concepts into actionable plans.

The program, which has its origins in the One Region Forward, an award-winning regional planning effort to develop a roadmap for sustainable development across Erie and Niagara Counties.

The 2023 cohort was directed by Libertad Figuereo, an adjunct instructor in urban planning at UB and an MUP alumnus, along with Dean Robert G. Shibley and Ivy Yan, a teaching assistant and 2023 graduate of the BAED program.

UB students engage community leaders and local resources to provide citizens with training and wide-ranging support, from visualizing ideas and community engagement techniques to demographic research and grant-writing. Community partners in the 2023 program included Kim Amplement (Town of Amherst); Hadar Borden (UB Blackstone LaunchPad); Drew Canfield (Central Terminal Restoration Corporation); Beverly E. Newkirk (Transforming Hearts, Changing Lives and Altering Destinies and Champion for Change ’14-15); Matthew Sieracki (BAED alumnus); and Mary Rech Rockwell (The New Buffalo Institute and Western New York Prosperity Fellowship).

Selected citizen projects enhance the region’s social, physical, ecological and cultural infrastructure in support of equitable, vibrant, resilient and sustainable living environments for all.         

Alessandra Santarosa.

AICP Planning Excellence Award presented to Alessandra Rose Santarosa (MUP '23)

The American Institute of Certified Planners is APA's professional institute providing recognized leadership nationwide in the certification of professional planners, ethics, professional development, planning education, and the standards of planning practice. Upon the nomination of the graduate faculty in the Department of Urban and Regional Planning, the American Institute of Certified Planners Award is presented to a student who exemplifies high standards of professional and school citizenship. This year's AICP Planning Excellence Award was presented to MUP student Alessandra Rose Santarosa, a 2023 graduate with interests in community and economic development, youth development, and enhancing opportunities within Western New York. 

Petreen Thomas.

Petreen Thomas, a dual MUP/MArch student, receives Michael J. Krasner Student Scholarship 

The Michael J. Krasner Student Scholarship was established by the Upstate Chapter of the American Planning Association and UB's Department of Urban and Regional Planning to honor urban planner Mike Krasner, who dedicated himself to the profession and American Planning Association before passing away unexpectedly in 2004 at the age of 51.

The $1,500 tuition scholarship annually awarded to a student entering their final year of graduate study in the Department of Urban and Regional Planning at UB who exhibits commitment to planning issues in Western and Upstate New York, with intent to practice within the Upstate Chapter's geographic area. 

This year's award was presented to Petreen Thomas, a graduate of the BS Arch program who is currently pursuing a dual Master of Urban Planning and Master of Architecture degree at UB. Dedicated to public interest design and planning, Thomas is also an active student leader at UB. She serves as vice president of UB's African American Students of Architeecture and Planning group and president of UB's chapter of the National Organization of Minority Architecture Students.