In May 2018, Erie County Medical Center (ECMC) purchased the 17-acre site formerly occupied by the Kensington Heights public housing complex and made a commitment to the community to engage nearby residents and partners to shape the site’s future. To help with that process, they invited UBRI and the School of Architecture and Planning to provide preliminary planning support to meet that goal.
UBRI led a visioning process to understand what neighborhood residents and stakeholders want for the site’s future. Guided by a 16-member Community Advisory Committee (CAC), the engagement involved a comprehensive on-the-ground effort to talk to neighborhood residents about their ideas and aspirations for the site. Outreach was led by a team of graduate assistants from the School of Architecture and Planning and involved regular meetings with the CAC, tabling at local events, small-scale neighborhood meetings, youth-oriented engagement activities, and a door-to-door canvassing exercise aimed at engaging local businesses. The findings were summarized in “Building Together: A Community Vision to Inform the Future of Kensington Heights.”
In the fall 2019 semester, students from UB’s Master’s in Urban Planning, Masters in Science in Architecture, and Master’s in Real Estate Development programs participated in an interdisciplinary studio course focused on developing potential design and development strategies for the site and its integration into the ECMC campus. The studio looked to incorporate ideas from the visioning process into development proposals, while also offering recommendations on how ECMC can better integrate the site into its broader campus.