Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Rochester Regional Community Design Center (RRCDC)

Let's see if I can make some sense out of some scribbled notes and write a coherent recap of Rochester New Urbanism and Sustainable Development's tour of the RRCDC facility on East Main Street.

Roger Brown, an architect, and president of the Board of Directors for the center was nice enough to open it up after hours and describe its mission, past works, and every piece of its physical state to us free of charge. He noted that his is not a paid position and that only three such positions exist. The Director, Joni Monroe, a professional planner, and an administrative assistant are the only ones making a living off of their revenue earned by performing work in various municipalities as well as state grants and other endowments. They supplement the workforce through interns (largely from the U of R, sometimes as far away as Northeastern) and volunteers.

The Design Center is open to the public from 8:30 to 5:30. While not mandated by their recipt of public funds, it is their policy to not only have an open door, but also a reference library of their past works, other design works, urban planning literature, transit operating plans, and large binders of form based design codes.

The center and affiliated groups are currently providing advisory input to two very large potential projects profiled previously on this blog, the Broad Street Corridor Master Plan, and the Paetec World Headquarters. In the past they have facilitated 24 design charrettes and are planning one for the Bulls Head westside neighborhood in the spring.

Their Reshaping Rochester lecture series will return in October and will have an additional installment thanks to the support of the National Endowment for the Arts. The overarching theme for this year's series is the hot button topic of Sustainability in Design. Their design gallery continues to house the large rendering of many of the Downtown Charrette topics discussed here over the past two months.

At the tour I decided on the spot to volunteer behind the scenes for Roger and the center as I am unlikely to be able to frequent the facility during its normal hours due to job obligations. The first thing they have me doing is gathering information on the City of Grand Rapids, Michigan whose mayor is part of this upcoming year's lecture program. I have prepared a presentation that I will likely turn into a future case study post for the blog. I also managed to acquire that city's streetcar feasibility study, a very interesting read.

In closing, I want to reiterate that the center is at 1115 East Main Street and will welcome anyone interested to their facility during normal business hours. Also noteworthy is that Tia was inspired by an off-hand comment during the tour to the extent that she wrote a letter to the editor regarding construction of a new gas station at a potential city gateway that was published in today's D&C. Still to come is a Ren Square opinion piece, East Main Street charrette recommendations, and now a Grand Rapids case study more true to the term.

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