University Heights Initiative

Engaging our campus and neighborhood context

Aerial view of University Heights and its institutional landmark - UB's South Campus.

The University Heights neighborhood is both the northern anchor of Buffalo's Metro Rail system and home to UB's South Campus, whose presence creates a unique cultural and demographic dynamic. Photo by Douglas Levere

Building on a 50-year legacy of community-engaged teaching and research, the School of Architecture and Planning is taking an intentional approach to study its campus home and the surrounding University Heights neighborhood over a continuous, multi-year engagement.

The University Heights initiative includes cross-disciplinary work from both research faculty and students, from an assessment of neighborhood assets to focused studios on transit-oriented development and streetscape improvements. Moving forward, the initiative will build off student and faculty explorations as the school continues to partner with the University Heights community. 

Program goals

This effort advances four specific goals that can inspire ideas for future development and investment:

  • Build a knowledge base on the neighborhood’s existing conditions, assets and challenges. Assembly of this data driven context will offer partners from the public, private and non-profit sectors neighborhood-specific data that can inform decisions.
  • Create visions for the future that can inspire developments to promote the neighborhood’s growth and revitalization.
  • Catalyze action by identifying potential projects, programs, or infrastructure investments capable of spurring additional investment in the residential and commercial areas throughout the neighborhood.
  • Develop a series of tools that can assist local community groups, planners, and potential investors to implement revitalization strategies for the neighborhood.

Through the 2017-2018 academic year, students, faculty, and professional research staff worked hands-on in the University Heights neighborhood, looking at key sites and issues, to identify potential design and planning solutions. Highlights include two master’s level studio courses, a graduate-level urban design seminar, several undergraduate and graduate level course projects, and a baseline assessment of the University Heights neighborhood conducted by the research staff at the UB Regional Institute that frames the neighborhood in data and past and ongoing planning work.

  • Neighborhood overview
    A overview of neighborhood characteristics for University Heights compiled by the UB Regional Institute including demographic, jobs and workforce, land use, real estate market, transportation, & crime and safety data summaries.
  • Reimagining key neighborhood nodes
    Reimagining the future of University Heights, Professor Ozay's studio examined the institutional scale of the campus as juxtaposed with the infrastructural scale of the transfer station and the residential scale of the surrounding neighborhoods.
  • Precedent studies
    Providing a broader context to UB's relationship with the University Heights neighborhood, this studio examined the campus-community relationship both through historical trends and contemporary practices at selected campuses across the United States.
  • Bailey Avenue Corridor
    Professor Hata's studio synthesized design strategies aimed at creating a more healthy, equitable, and sustainable Bailey Avenue Corridor. This was achieved through mapping the urban form and analyzing the existing visual and spatial structure.
  • Transit oriented development
    In this interdisciplinary studio, graduate students from the school’s real estate, architecture and planning programs worked together to examine the possibilities for TOD to make transformative impacts on UB’s South Campus, the University Heights neighborhood, and the City of Buffalo.
  • Historic buildings in University Heights
    This survey was conducted to document the architectural significance of buildings in the University Bailey District. This study documents properties in the district that relate to one or several historic contexts, as required by the historic district application of the National Park Service.