Our city will be honored this week by the Congress for the New Urbanism, a leading international non-profit organization that promotes the revival of cities and neighborhoods. On June 13, the group will award the City of Buffalo with its Charter Award for 2009, as part of its annual conference held in Denver, Colorado. The award is being given out for the city’s plans developed by the Urban Design Project, a small research center that was founded 20 years ago, based out of the School of Architecture and Planning at the University at Buffalo and under the direction of Robert Shibley.
As the recipient of only one of two charter awards given out this year, Buffalo beat out 125 other plans submitted by urban planners and designers worldwide. Buffalo’s entry included four components: the Comprehensive Plan, which is the physical land use plan for the city, meant to guide both public and private investment; the Regional Action Plan that provides a more inclusive plan encompassing the entire region; the “Buffalo Waterfront Corridor Initiative: A Strategic Plan for Transportation Improvement”; and the plan for Buffalo’s Olmsted Park System.
“With such a rich architectural and planning heritage, Buffalo is now better positioned that ever to move forward into the 21st century, building and developing according to urban plans that account for our glorious past, but provide the proper framework for our city’s future,” said Mayor Byron Brown. Brown also thanked Robert Shibley, the director of the UDP, for his hard work on the projects and noted that a new position of city planner has been added to help put into practice the particulars that the city’s comprehensive plan calls for. The search for a planner is ongoing.
Shibley, meanwhile, remarked on the progress the city has made considering the lack of a plan for development as recently as a decade ago. “Past city development has been scattershot, a matter of “throwing paint on a canvas,” he said. “This award is a great honor for the city and a fantastic endorsement of the framework for the future that the city has laid out. It means the leaders of an international movement for urban revival have recognized our work as a model for the world.”