To operate a workshop comprised of local designers and become a valuable resource to the Rochester community in support of thoughtful design.

Core Values

Inclusivity - Reflect the diversity of human needs through cohesive, holistic design processes

Collaboration - A shared vision is the result of honest communication, free sharing of ideas, and broad perspectives

Context Sensitivity - Understanding the forces that influence design are more than aesthetic; they include cultural, historical, and environmental understanding

Design Excellence - Elevate the best designs, promote awareness of successful solutions, and build expectations of excellence

Sustainability - Promote environmentally sustainable and economically viable growth and development as responsible stewards of our natural resources

Expanded Principles

Nurture design excellence through leadership by example.  Public buildings and public spaces — parks and the public right-of-way — should establish a high standard of architectural and urban design excellence, serve as deliberate opportunities for innovative design, and set an example for private developers to emulate. Exemplary design should be a key consideration in the development of new public buildings, as well as the basic infrastructure that shapes the character and vitality of a city’s streets, sidewalks, parks, boulevards, and plazas.

Create an authentic sense of place.  The physical form, patterns, activities and uses of the public realm should embody the unique characteristics of the people, place, natural environment and civic intentions of our city. To foster a distinctive and vital public realm, local planning and zoning, building regulations, and development policies should enable entrepreneurial investments by reducing startup costs, mitigating risk, and helping to build an active base of consumers to support locally-owned and operated ventures.

Design streets for people.  The safest street is one animated by a high level of human activity and presence. Streets dominated by and designed exclusively for automobiles are incompatible with the very notion of a livable city. No street should serve a single purpose or function; rather, streets should simultaneously support and encourage automobile, transit, bicycle, and pedestrian travel, and enable ease of movement among a range of buildings, uses, and activities. Every public investment in transportation infrastructure is also an opportunity to reinforce the character of local neighborhoods, foster economic development, protect the natural environment, conserve historic places, reduce automobile dependence, and enhance quality of life.

Respect the integrity and value of the urban fabric.  Like a human being, the City is alive and, as it matures, it continues to refine and develop its own sense of character.  Different building forms, scales and types, as well as complementary land uses, should be permitted and integrated into the texture of any urban area. Older buildings help define the contours of the public realm, and public policies should facilitate their adaptive reuse for new uses and activities without compromising their architectural character or imposing inappropriate or unrealistic regulatory burdens on property owners.

Strengthen Rochester with integrated public transit.  Effective public transit serves the City and the region by improving access to the urban core and reducing traffic congestion and pollution. Transit also strengthens the urban fabric by supporting walkable neighborhoods, urban density, and mixed-use development. Development policies and incentives should promote transit-oriented development, and transit should be used to foster stronger connections between urban and suburban areas.

Respect natural ecosystems and the beauty of the regional landscape.  Design and development regulations should work in concert to ensure that the public infrastructure that supports private development actively conserves and protects sensitive natural environments. Design solutions also should be tailored to the specific climate, natural ecology, and topography of the regional landscape.

Invest strategically in public spaces.  Buildings that successfully engage with the public realm enable vitality, beauty and economic success. The space between buildings, in turn, is given life by the planning, organization and design of the buildings along its edges. Investments in the public realm build the value of the city’s tax base and promote long-term economic sustainability and public control of the city’s destiny. This is good for the property owner and the public — both enjoy long-term economic stability because the public realm is more beautiful, better maintained, encourages private investment, and fulfills its role in the daily life of the people of Rochester.

Practice stewardship for the public realm.  A shared physical environment that encourages frequent and informal interactions between strangers enhances public safety, helps build community identity, and promotes civic duty and citizenship. Local government therefore has a responsibility to its citizens to ensure long-term security and stability of the public realm. Local decision making processes should be made more accountable and transparent by supporting public collaboration in the design of the built environment.