Thursday, November 12, 2009

Newsletter November 2009

The Rochester Regional Community Design Center
Newsletter November 2009


Click HERE to make a donation.
Your contributions support programs and projects at the Design Center that enrich the spirit of community vision.

RRCDC is a 501c3 non-profit organization, making all donations tax deductible.






National Endowment For The Arts
New York State Council on the Arts
The Community Foundation
Greater Rochester Health Foundation
City of Rochester
Monroe County Planning Board
The Lovenheim Trust
Louis S. & Molly B. Wolk Foundation
George Eastman House



The RRCDC is Rochester’s only citizen-driven, professionally directed non-profit organization committed to revitalizing our region by advocating design excellence for our built environment.

We have numerous opportunities for volunteer work, ranging from helping out at our lecture series or conferences to assisting with projects at the office. Feel free to call or stop in with questions.




NEWS NOW| Reshaping Rochester Lecture Series 2009-2010

On October 21st the RRCDC began hosting the 5th annual Reshaping Rochester Lecture Series, which features six accomplished speakers of diverse backgrounds who will address sustainability issues and the future well being of our built environment.

Our first lecturer, Geoff Anderson, CEO of Smart Growth America, is an energetic P1040655.JPGproponent of thoughtful strategies that lead to positive economic development and beneficial social outcomes. In November, Dr. Emily Talen will discuss the importance and power of diversity within a community. She will emphasize how cultural and social differences make for an enriched living environment.
Christopher Leinberger then takes the stage in February to introduce the “New American Dream,” in which he seeks to dismantle America’s ‘white-picket-fence’ mentality by showing how Americans’ aspirations for their built environment change with economic and demographic conditions. Building on this new dream, Ellen Dunham-Jones will speak in March about transforming suburbs into walkable communities to better serve future needs and improve quality of life for all.
Problems of urban sprawl and its effects on health will be addressed by Dr. Lawrence Frank, a native Rochestarian.  Dr. Frank will reveal how poor use of land negatively affects behavior, travel patterns, and health. In the final lecture, the former Mayor of Meridian, John Robert Smith, will offer transportation alternatives and explore how these choices can be a driving force in promoting development, economics, and a healthier living environment.
These speakers will offer great lessons on real issues of sustainability that are applicable to our community. The Reshaping Rochester Lectures reach out to the Rochester area, strengthening the connection between the community and its planners.

PURCHASE LECTURE TICKETS and full-series packages for Reshaping Rochester Lecture Series.
VIEW IMAGES of Reshaping Rochester lecture by Geoff Anderson.
LISTEN ONLINE to select lectures online.

REACHING OUT| Including the Community

The lecture series has given us a new way to reach out to the general community, as well as include college campuses and local student groups.  RRCDC has worked with U of R, MCC, RIT, Nazareth, University of Buffalo, SUNY Environmental Science and Forestry School, and St. John Fisher College to promote the Reshaping Rochester Lectures, and continually expand RRCDC internships. Student groups from these campuses will be participating in the Reshaping Rochester lectures and other RRCDC projects, bringing a fresh, youthful passion to the challenging issues of sustainability and community development. Our interns from these schools work directly on community development projects. This experiential learning opportunity engages student interns in a variety of critical tasks such as writing publications, research, mapping for vision plans and guidelines, gallery preparation, and media design.
During the summer, the RRCDC reached out to a program from the U of R called Rochester Urban Fellowship. We hosted an ‘urban fellow’ as an intern for the summer for her education and increased experience in cultural, societal, and community based issues.  This collaboration brought Dr. Joel Seligman, President of the University of Rochester, to the Design Center to speak to all the Urban Fellows. The RRCDC also works with interns, during the school year, from the University of Rochester to help sculpt the vision of sustainable communities. We are happy to welcome four interns for this academic year. Pathstones Youth InvolvementUncovering Assets in Marketview Heights, sponsored by PathStone Corporation, nine young people from Rochester created asset maps for their community and presented their work at the RRCDC to community members, political officials, and planning and design professionals. This PathStone Project-Based Work Experience Program engaged these young participants in evaluating their community’s resources and finding ways to most efficiently utilize the local assets they identified. The RRCDC is happy to see young people actively involved in advancing the built environment, enthusiastic about engaging with the community, and successful at accomplishing these goals.

VIEW IMAGES of Uncovering Assets in Marketview Heights.
VIEW IMAGES of Dr. Seligman's visit with the Urban Fellows at the RRCDC.

HEALTHY & HAPPY CITIES| Exhibition Travels to the West Coast

Earlier in the year the RRCDC collaborated with Douglas Farr to create “Healthy and Happy Cities,” an exhibit focusing on the importance of a sustainable lifestyle. Based on Farr’s book, Sustainable Urbanism: Urban Design with Nature, this presentation visualizes and describes the implementation of Doug Farr's Sustainable Urbanismsmart growth, green buildings, and healthier environments.
Recently on display in Seattle’s American Institute of Architecture, this successful exhibit will travel throughout the year to other design centers around the country. The display is fashioned to educate the public in sustainable development and community well-being using means of architecture and design. RRCDC looks forward to creating more of these travelling exhibits including a display based on Retrofitting Suburbia by Ellen Dunham-Jones.

For more information on the Healthy and Happy Cities exhibition please visit our DESIGN GALLERY.
VIEW IMAGES from Healthy & Happy Cities.

PROJECTS| Design Guidelines

Most recently, the RRCDC is creating a set of design guidelines and overlay district zoning requirements for the Main Street commercial district for the village of Macedon. This project follows design guidelines we created for the Hamlet of Williamson and Rochester’s Upper Monroe neighborhood. We strive to promote further use of these design guidelines in the Rochester region.

These practical, efficient guidelines will help communities formulate vision plans that return the built environment to its historic roots. The community, therefore, will be aesthetically pleasing and sustainable. In this project, we also plan to apply ideas from Ellen Dunham-Jones’s book, Retrofitting Suburbia: Urban Design Guide for Redesigning Suburbs. The goal is to rediscover the ‘urban’ in ‘suburbia’ the suburban sprawl developed over this past century into a mixed-use, urban environment for everyone to enjoy.


A special THANK YOU to those organizations and people that donated time and money to support our work; we couldn’t have done it without you!

These events that you have read about in this newsletter and on our website have all sprouted from the generosity of our supporters. If you wish to support the projects, work, and mission of the RRCDC, your gift will be greatly appreciated. On behalf of your Rochester region’s community we encourage you to contribute.

Thank you again to all the givers that have made the RRCDC step ever closer to our goals.

Donations can now be made online now, click here to contribute.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Newsletter July 2009

The Rochester Regional Community Design Center rrcdc_logo.gif
July 2009

Click HERE to make a donation.

Membership dollars support programs and projects at the Design Center that contribute to the spirit of community vision.

RRCDC is a 501c3 non-profit organization. All donations are tax deductible.




Excerpts from Association for Community Design (ACD Conference)
Reshaping Rochester

Project Green

Marketview Heights
Susan B. Anthony
Association for Community Design
Rocket 175
"Landscapes and Monuments" Exhibit

George Eastman House

The National Endowment for the Arts
The New York State Council on the Arts
The Community Foundation
The Greater Rochester Health Foundation City of Rochester Monroe County Planning Board

The RRCDC is Rochester's only citizen-driven, professionally directed non-profit organization committed to revitalizing our region by advocating design excellence for our built environment.

We have numerous opportunities for volunteers ranging from helping out at our lecture series or conferences to assisting with projects at the office. Feel free to call or stop in with questions.

NEWS| ACD Annual Conference: "Shrinking Cities, Growing Communities."

On June 4-7th The Association for Community Design held its annual conference in Rochester, New York. The Rochester Regional Community Design Center (RRCDC) was proud to host a diverse and talented group of architects, urban designers, and planners who came together to take part in lecture sessions and guided tours. The conference, "Shrinking Cities, Growing Communities," showcased the work of talented design professionals with different academic backgrounds. The event attracted both national and international guests.

Alan Greenberger, the Executive Director for the Philadelphia City Planning Commission gave the keynote address. Greenberger, a graduate of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, addressed issues surrounding post-industrial cities. He illustrated methods with which cities in the Northeast and Midwest can move forward from their industrial past and implement redevelopment initiatives. Mr. Greenberger's reputation in the urban planning community is said to be "thoughtful, steady and considerate" by Philadelphia Mayor Michael A. Nutter, who appointed him to his current position on August 14th, 2008.

The conference focused on ways in which community design can address improvements to safety, food access, walkable communities, and public access. In light of the recent economic recession, the creative ideas in the practice of community design will be a vital component in renewing hope, reshaping civic engagement, and building stronger communities. Creative urban design and planning are essential to the future of healthy and sustainable communities.

A panel discussion on Community Food Supply and Environmental Justice featured lectures by Matthew Potteiger, Professor of Landscape Architecture at the College of Environmental Design at SUNY-ESF in Syracuse, NY, Diane Picard, Executive Director of the Massachusetts Avenue Project in Buffalo, NY and Elizabeth Miller, the Executive Director of The Community Design Collaborative in Philadelphia. Each speaker addressed the issues around these topics and provided strategies they are using to deal with the relationship between the built environment and public health.

Conference guests were also invited on guided tours of the Marketview Heights and Susan B. Anthony areas given by longtime neighborhood residents who were able to provide valuable insight into their communities' challenges. Both these Rochester districts have experienced housing abandonment and crime, following long periods of economic decline. Many organizations in Rochester, including the RRCDC, are working to improve this degradation that faces so many communities.

Audio from Mr. Greenberger's keynote address and other speakers from the conference are available online at the RRCDC website at

LOOKING FORWARD| Reshaping Rochester 2009-2010

This year the RRCDC will be embarking on its fifth annual Reshaping Rochester Lecture Series. The event brings nationally respected experts, well versed in community revitalization, to the greater Rochester region. The lectures are open to the public, and are eligible for required continuing education credits for architects and design professionals through partnership with the Rochester Chapter of the AIA. This year, the RRCDC will be partnering with WXXI through a Blueprint America Grant, a national community outreach initiative, which allows public television stations across the country to fund community events, have localized programming, and create promotional campaigns. The events will be streamed live and can be downloaded as a podcasts. Geoff Anderson of Smart Growth America will be the first lecturer in the 2009-2010 series.

The RRCDC will also be collaborating with the George Eastman House to host a lecture at the Dryden Theater as part of the "Rochester at 175: Where We Live" exhibit, celebrating Rochester's 175th birthday.

RRCDC Design Gallery| Current and Future Exhibits

The two current exhibits on display are "Food Is Landscape" and "Healthy Happy Cities: Urban Design with Nature." "Food Is Landscape" is an installation that reveals the connection between the food we eat and the landscape we make. It is the work of Landscape Architecture students at SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry in Syracuse, NY. The installation identifies critical issues in the Central New York food system and offers a series of design proposals aimed at creating sustainable and socially just food systems.

"Healthy Happy Cities: Urban Design with Nature" highlights successful examples of sustainable urbanism including high performance architecture, walkable communities, and transit oriented development in eight communities in the United States and Mexico. The exhibit opened in conjunction with Douglas Farr, Principal of the successful Chicago based architecture & design firm, Farr Associates. His lecture, as part of Reshaping Rochester 2008-2009, directly related to his book, Sustainable Urbanism: Urban Design with Nature, winner of Winner of the 2008 American Publishers Awards for Professional and Scholarly Excellence.

This fall, the RRCDC gallery will open an exhibit celebrating the 175th anniversary of the founding of Rochester. The exhibit, "Landscapes and Monuments," will showcase contemporary photos of the city, celebrating and showcasing its unique urban form, its vast public art and its important public landmarks. In addition to seeing this exhibit, the RRCDC encourage all visitors in Rochester to view these subjects in their actual environment. Please visit the RRCDC gallery on the first Friday of every month as part of Rochester's First Friday, a monthly event, which "...encourages collaboration between non-profit, university, and commercial art venues in Rochester, NY." The design gallery is open from 6-9 P.M. Transportation is provided by the City of Rochester. The gallery is also open Monday through Friday 9 to 5 and available by appointment.

For more information please visit

RRCDC ON THE ROAD| Massachusetts Avenue Project

On July 2nd the RRCDC and the Marketview Heights Community Action Group drove to Buffalo to explore the Massachusetts Avenue Project. MAP is "Growing a New Buffalo through Food, Entrepreneurship, and Urban Farms." While in Buffalo, we met with Diane Picard, Executive Director of MAP and coodinator of their Growing Green initiative. Growing Green is a youth enterprise program that encourages community sustainability, peer education, and children's engagement through urban agriculture. MAP employs about 50 children year round in an urban agriculture education program, and works closely with other community groups in order to develop community advocacy for urban agriculture in the city of Buffalo. Similar enterprises are being developed in Rochester, with the Grow Green and Rochester Roots programs.

The Massachusetts Avenue Project also features its own "Buffalo Grown Mobile Market." A newly customized van carrying fresh organic produce makes it way around the city providing healthy foods at a very low cost. The mobile market made its debut visit to Santa Marina Towers, a senior housing complex in the city of Buffalo.

More information about the Massachusetts Avenue Project can be found at

PROJECT GREEN| City of Rochester

Recently the RRCDC worked with the City of Rochester's Department of Planning and of Neighborhood and Business Development to complete "Project Green," a detailed report outlining ways in which Rochester can become a more environmentally sustainable, green city. Recommendations outlined in the report involve creative use of underutilized buildings and sites, strategies for rejuvenating brown-fields, facilitating waterfront development, and greening the city through planting trees and providing more public green space.

"Project Green" helps to identify Rochester's green assets in order to use them in a more effective way. The City hopes to engage multiple municipal departments and community action groups in a collaborative partnership for neighborhood development.

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