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Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Paul Rudolph's Niagara Falls Library

This was built as drawn and is still the main branch of the Niagara Falls, NY public library.
Zoom in and check out this section rendering by Paul Rudolph!





Wednesday, February 20, 2013

The Differences Between Two Upstate Bus Sheds

You can read in my entry below - Comment On The Bus Shed - about the controversy surrounding the placement, design, cost and impact of the Rochester bus transfer terminal.

I could not find one facility in any of the 60 U.S. cities of similar size I examined that could act as precedent for the Rochester hub.

The only project that resembled Rochester's was in Boise, Id as it was similar in plan and placement to the Rochester plan, was not yet built and was raising the same concerns amongst their local developers who, like Rochester developers, insisted that the hub should not be placed in the center of a growing downtown residential and office district.

I did not pay much attention to the Syracuse hub and was not aware of their plan until  a wealth of information was discovered on the planning, design and construction of the new transfer station.

Well, it seems that my old hometown is once again showing us in the "Flower City" how to do it right...or, at least, less wrong.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Empire Building: South Mall Platform

Deep Within The Bowels Of The Platform Building - September 8, 1972
Edited Image, Original Image: Courtesy of NYS Archives


Thursday, December 22, 2011

Reality Bites




This Place Was Hopping In The Late 90's And Early 2000's When Everybody Was Buying SUVs With Credit They Didn't Deserve And Gas Prices Hovering Around $1.50.

It Never Felt Right To Me - Industrial Jobs Were FLEEING Syracuse At This Time, Not Arriving And A Lot Of The People I Knew Who Bought SUVs Really Couldn't Afford Them.

Much Like How I Felt In 2003 When I Worked At A Home Builder Supply Store.

Things Were BOOMING With Pallets Of Nails And Thousands Of Dollars Worth Of Power Tools Flying Out The Door And To The Newly Built Tract Housing Subdivisions Sprouting Up All Over The Area.

This Would Be All Well And Good Were I Living In NYC Or Another Growing Area, But This Was Rochester, A Metro Area With A Decades Long Metro Population Of 1,000,000 And A City At It's Center Whose Population Was About 2/3 It's 1950's Peak Of 300,000.

It Didn't Seem Real To Me That We Were Selling Nails For Homes That No One Was Moving To Rochester To Live In.

I Concluded That This Housing "Boom" Was A Fraud Somehow Supported By A Dearth Of Corporate/Business Credit And That Once The Money Stopped Flowing, The "Demand" For These Projects Would Follow.

My Bosses And My Customers Looked At Me Cross Eyed And Went About Their Dance Of Denial.

I Quit That Job In August Of 2007 - A Few Days Before Countrywide Went Down And The "Correction" Began.

Now, At New Process We See How Quickly Reality Does Its Work - The Jobs At This Plant Were Artificially Created By Lax Lending Standards And Unnaturally Low Gas Prices.

It's Peak Of 4,000 Workers Occurred Just Seven Years Ago But Is Now - On The Other Side Of The 2007-?? "Correction" - Down To A "Final" Tally Of 300 And Will Soon Close Down Entirely.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Monday, October 10, 2011

Friday, September 16, 2011

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Ghosts of RenSquare

It appears that some of the buildings along Main Street that were due for demolition when the RenSquare plan still existed are now being considered, along with 'GASP' the possibility of staying in the Sibley Building - where they have managed to survive the horrible working conditions for years - albeit in a newly remodeled space on the lower floors of the former department store.

Following is an article from March 15, 2011's D&C:

MCC looking at three options for downtown campus


Monday, March 28, 2011

Midtown Falling

Some images of the ongoing demolition of Midtown Plaza...



Midtown Plaza from above. Main Street is north. Broad Street is at the bottom of the image. The McCurdy and Euclid buildings are top right, the Citizen's Bank building is top left, Seneca, B. Forman and Wegmans buildings run from north to south along South Clinton Ave, Midtown Tower at center bottom and the Atrium/Town Square is at the center of the complex. The images start at the bottom left corner of this overview and then in a clockwise direction to end up at the bottom right corner.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Rochester's Past Futures: Safdie's RenSquare

Found this almost by chance.

If you forgot what RenSquare was supposed to be this will remind you.
It may not have been perfect - the basic plan for project was badly conceived to begin with - but it sure would have had some beautifully designed interior spaces.
The pedestrian access to St. Paul Quarter along the spine of the project along with the well thought out green space on the bus shed's roof speak to the maturity and talent of Mr. Safdie's design.

The later versions of the complex by "The Associates" kept the basic layout but lost all of the class and humanity of the "too expensive" original design.

I am sure that the real problems with the cost of construction were a combination of a bad economy, higher overall costs for materials and labor AND the fact that the theater - one third of the entire project - did not have the needed funds to be completed.
And, five years later, we are still waiting to hear an update from RBTL on their fund drive for the theater, now planned for the Midtown Plaza site.

At least we are getting an overpriced bus shed that no one wants in its planned location!
Who says we never get anything built in Rochester?




Rochester's Past Futures: Habitat Rochester

Moshe Safdie is best known in Rochester for getting paid almost $3 million to design RenSquare back in the early 2000's. He was later dismissed and the plan he laid out was given to a group of local architecture firms who were then tasked to redesign the project in ways that would reduce costs.

RenSquare is history and we are now left facing the construction of the bus shed in the same basic layout as determined by the Safdie plan but without the "niceties" Safdie included in the original design, or the theater and downtown college campus.

This was not Safdie's first flirtation with building in Rochester. In July 1971 a group of local leaders were given a tour by a young Moshe Safdie of his early masterpiece, Habitat Montreal. Plans were being made for Habitats in Jerusalem and New York City and one for low income families was under way in Puerto Rico. If approved, Habitat Rochester would have been built by local activist organization FIGHT on the west side of the Genesee River in the city's 3rd Ward.

Monday, February 21, 2011

It Could Be Worse, Irondequoit

Not being able to keep promises to reinvent a dead mall to avoid paying taxes is one thing, slowly killing a successful one due to personal greed is on another level of malevolence altogether.

The son still has much to learn from the father...

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Midtown Plaza

Suggestions for the redevelopment of the downtown mall in Rochester, NY.
Includes perspective "renderings" of the proposed office tower that was later removed from the plan.

Click on "menu" in bottom left corner of the slide-show toolbar for Full Screen View.

Chase Tower

A description of modern structural engineering and late modern architecture through a brief history of Rochester, NY skyscraper Chase Tower.

One HSBC Plaza

A description of modern structural engineering and late modern architecture through a brief history of Rochester, NY skyscraper, One HSBC Plaza.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Getting It Right? UPDATED 10-2011

I moved to Rochester from my hometown of Syracuse in 2000 because I was looking for a change of scenery. Rochester was the perfect place to live. I had friends to room with, a new job and a new city to explore.

I noticed when I visited Rochester in the past that it seemed to be a place where projects downtown had a better chance of being built and turning out right than was the case in Syracuse.

Friday, December 31, 2010

Rochester's Past Futures: Genesee Crossroads Parcel 3

Between the years 1950 and 1975 over a quarter of downtown Rochester's 400 acres were cleared for urban renewal projects. This excludes the many surface parking lots that already existed in lieu of buildings during the 1950's, or the land taken  for expressway-building. Taken as a whole, it is easy to see that the majority of downtown was demolished and remade in the 25 year period of post-war urban renewal.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Comment On The Bus Shed

When attending the “workshop” for the bus station at the Hyatt on September 15th I had one question for the architects manning the design station I visited: what other cities of Rochester’s relative size and socioeconomic situation has built a similar facility?

The response: Shrugged shoulders and a mention of Atlanta, the center of an expanding area of 5.4 million people.

The two cities were similar in one way, Rochester was a boom town too…in the 1800’s!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Elegance And Respect: The Crossroads Building Reconsidered

 In 1965 architect Ely Jacques Kahn retired after having spent the past six decades devoted to the craft of architecture. One of the "three little men" - along with Ralph Walker and Raymond Hood, a triumvirate of Ecole des Beaux-Arts-trained New York architects whose diminutive physical statures belied their immense talent and influence and who were known to meet regularly to discuss the issues of their profession, often leaving behind tables of sketched-on napkins - Kahn's "frozen fountains" shaped the look of depression-era Manhattan.

A famous photo from the Society of Beaux-Arts Architects annual ball of 1931 shows Kahn (left of center), Ralph  Walker (dressed as One Wall Street, right of center), William Van Alen (architect of the Chrysler Building, center) and others dressed as their most famous buildings. In this case, Mr. Kahn was dressed as the building he regarded as one of his best designs, the Squibb Building.