March 2024

Looking Ahead: Design Workshops!

The Community Design Center Rochester (CDCR) is excited to announce that we will be focusing our public engagement, education, and advocacy efforts through design workshops. We are currently collaborating with three peer organizations: Hinge Neighbors, Greentopia, and Ibero American Development Corporation (IADC) to host neighborhood design workshops that represent distinctly different types of land use scenarios.

The Hinge Neighbors' Bohrer Alley project is a transportation corridor project, while Greentopia's High Falls State Park public engagement focuses on creating the park and its surrounding neighborhoods. (photo on right)

The IADC's El Camino Neighborhood project will update the plan originally completed in 2016, examining recommendations that have been successfully completed and exploring potential solutions to address current opportunities. (pictured below)

Additionally, the CDCR is planning other events in the Northwest quadrant of the City of Rochester, focusing on corridors and examining land use diversity, economic development opportunities, complete streets with multimodal transportation, and enhancing public spaces.

History of Engagement

The CDCR has a rich history of hosting design workshops, with the first one taking place in the late 1990s. Our most recent design workshop and vision plan were completed with the Charlotte Community Association in 2023. Over the past 24 years, the CDCR has completed more than 50 design workshops. For a complete listing visit our website here.

Our first design workshop was held when a developer proposed tearing down the Monroe Theater on Monroe Avenue at Goodman Street to build a Rite Aid Pharmacy.

With public input, the main portion of the theater was saved, and the Rite Aid structure was built with better design elements than originally proposed.

The second workshop focused on the proposed widening of University Avenue between Culver Road and Goodman Street. The CDCR leadership advocated for the William A. Johnson administration to pause the street project for a year so a resident-led workshop could examine alternatives to the street widening project. The resulting 'Art Walk' solution has created a vibrant, walkable, and bikeable corridor through several neighborhoods.

Other early projects included the Village of Pittsford Comprehensive Plan Update, where Mayor Robert Corby employed the design workshop as a means to engage residents and stakeholders in the planning process.

The CDCR founders were originally members of the Urban Design Committee of the Rochester chapter of the American Institute of Architects (AIA). In 2003, they incorporated as the nonprofit Rochester Regional Community Design Center (RRCDC), changing their name to Community Design Center Rochester (CDCR) in 2013.

The concept of public engagement workshops (Charrettes) was gaining popularity in the late 1990s. CDCR founders attended the Congress for the New Urbanism (, where seminars were given on public engagement events.

The National Charrette Institute (NCI) was founded in 2001 to offer planning and design professionals the tools and skills to host successful engagement events. Beyond CNU and NCI, public engagement is now a fundamental part of standards and practices for land use planning, building design, and infrastructure projects. This includes the US Green Building Council's (USGBC) Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) project certification and professional accreditation. New York State's Climate Smart Communities (CSC) provides guidance to municipalities in Smart Growth policies. Many Rochester and Finger Lakes municipalities are CSC Certified (

The Design Workshop Process

Design workshops add value at every scale of project or planning initiative, from buildings and sites to corridors, neighborhoods, towns, villages, and cities. In 2024 and beyond, the CDCR (with our peer organizations and municipal leaders) intends to continuously evaluate the design workshop process and outcomes to define how to create Lasting Leadership, Lasting Engagement, and Lasting Communications at the neighborhood level. Please follow our website and social media for scheduled Design Workshops where you can participate throughout 2024.

Celebrating Women’s History Month

March is Women’s History Month, a time to recognize and celebrate the contributions and achievements of women. At the Community Design Center Rochester, we are proud to have a rich history of women leaders who have played a vital role in shaping our organization. Joni Monroe, a local architect and artist, is a co-founder and has been instrumental in our success. In addition, we have had numerous women who have served as executive directors, board members, staff, volunteer committee members, event hosts, and consultants. We are grateful for the dedication and hard work of all the women who have contributed to our organization's success over the past 24 years. Here are some of the women who have made significant contributions to our organization:

Reinn Alexander

Natalie Anderson 

 Stephanie Annunziata

 Tatiana Baglioni

Vicki Brown

Emily Connors

 Jean Dalmath

 Maureen Duggan

 Maria Furgiuele

Melinda Gaskamp

 Roz Goldman

Mary Hadley

Amy Hecker

Tina Kurland

Julia Maddox

Suzanne Mayer

 Monica McCullough

 Joni Monroe

 Kirsten Muckstadt

Dawn Noto

Karen Nozik

Mary Alice Pilgrim

 Suzanne Piotrowski

 Monika Reifenstein

Angela Richards

Sheila Sloan

Pamela Reese Smith

Kim Russell

 Janet Shipman

 Sue Steele

 Audrey Stewart

 Jennifer Takatch

Vanessa Villeneuve

Meg Walbaum

Stacey Waxtan

Mariam Yaqub

 Tanya Zwahlen

We are honored to have had the opportunity to work with such a talented and dedicated group of individuals, and we look forward to continuing to work together to create a better future for all.

Solar Eclipse comes to ROC!

The Rochester area will experience a full solar eclipse on April 8, 2024. The solar eclipse starts at 2:07 p.m. and ends at 4:33 p.m., with totality lasting from 3:20 p.m. to 3:23 p.m. In total, this phenomenon will last two hours and 26 minutes.

Our streets, parks and public spaces will be filled with residents and visitors to experience this event. With so many people gathering to share this historic solar event, it will be interesting to see how we all engage together.

Be sure to tag your experience with us on Facebook and Instagram!

Out & About

Check out what our friends are up to!

If you agree that Rochester passengers deserve a respectable intercity bus station, please add your name to this petition! Our friends at Reconnect Rochester are gathering signatures to deliver to Governor Hochul as a last push for project funding to be included in this year’s New York State budget. Please sign by March 8 if you can (although the petition will remain open).

More info here

Reconnect Rochester is also teaming up again with the City of Rochester to offer FREE learn to balance & ride classes at City Rec Centers. These classes were a hit last year and spots fill up quickly, so register today!

Design Phase: Public Workshop #1

You are invited to join in person or virtually to kick off the design phase, learn about next steps, and provide your input. The project team needs to hear from YOU!

The meeting will be held in-person on March 12th from 5:30 PM - 7:00 PM at World of Inquiry School #58 (200 University Avenue, Rochester, NY 14605), and via Zoom.

More info here

There are many great open community events coming up this month by Rochester Ecology Partners. Be sure to check them out!

More info here

RocGrowth presents

Join an insightful interview with three innovative minds uniquely shaping downtown Rochester's urban core!

Happening on Thursday, March 28th, this event will highlight the entrepreneurs behind Roc Holiday Village, the Partnership for Downtown Rochester and the Business Improvement District, and Hinge Neighbors and their role with the Inner Loop North.

More info here

Registration is now open for the 2024 Climate Solutions Summit! Discover how climate solutions aren’t just a necessity but an opportunity to create a healthier, more equitable future for the Genesee-Finger Lakes region.

More info here

G/FLRPC Releases the Genese-Finger Lakes Region Priority Climate Action Plan 

In September 2023, the Genesee/Finger Lakes Regional Planning Council received funding from the Environmental Protection Agency’s Climate Pollution Reduction Grant Program to develop a Climate Action Plan for the nine-county Capital Region. The CAP is being developed in two phases – a Priority Climate Action Plan (PCAP), which is now available, and a Comprehensive Climate Action Plan (CCAP) that will be completed in 2025. 

G/FLRPC collaborated with regional and municipal stakeholders to develop the PCAP, which includes strategies and measures for reducing greenhouse gas emissions in the transportation, building and infrastructure, and municipal operations sectors. G/FLRPC will expand the regional collaboration in 2024 to engage a broad group of stakeholders to develop the CCAP, which will include GHG reduction measures for all emissions sectors.  


More info here