• LaBella Associates

It’s Not Hard to Imagine a Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood of Play

Kids understand neighborhoods – most often, it’s where they go to find other kids. What follows can only be described as play: pick up games of basketball, spontaneous water fights, and lemonade stands.

In the 1950’s, Rochester was one of many cities that embraced the automobile by building a downtown freeway, dubbed the “Inner Loop”. The Inner Loop’s construction severed neighborhoods, created barriers, and drastically altered the scale and density of Rochester.

The Strong Neighborhood of Play is an exciting redevelopment project that will reclaim a portion of the Inner Loop for neighborhoods and families everywhere. In 2014, the City of Rochester permanently closed the eastern side of the Inner Loop and began filling in the sunken freeway. Of the 17 acres previously claimed by the Inner Loop, new parcels were created for redevelopment that will reconnect Downtown with the East End, one of Rochester’s liveliest districts.

The existing Strong Museum of Play is adjacent to the new development parcels, and currently attracts over 500,000 visitors to downtown Rochester each year. The Neighborhood of Play will redevelop the vacant Inner Loop parcels to include a 100,000 square foot addition to the museum, a 1,000 car parking garage, mixed-use retail and residential townhomes, and a new hotel. The Neighborhood of Play is expected to add an additional 400,000 visitors from out of state each year, and could have an economic impact of $130 Million.

LaBella’s role in the Neighborhood of Play included site design for the entire neighborhood, providing survey services, achieving compliance with the State Environmental Quality Review Act (SEQRA) and designing the new dedicated City Street (Adventure Place) and site work for the parking garage.

Our goals for a redevelopment of this magnitude was to design the infrastructure that will support the expanded museum and surrounding area as a destination. The expected additional visitation to the Museum will require more access and places to park. Additionally, the area surrounding the Museum will be an inclusive, connected, fun, green, and walkable place to live, work, and play: a true neighborhood. Each element of the design balanced optimal usage of space, traffic flow, connection of utilities, safety, construction logistics, and visibility. All aspects of the project were designed to be compatible with City guidelines for the area.

The final result of a project of this scale can be hard to imagine. That’s where LaBella’s 3D modeling capabilities come into play. Our team developed the above animation to show the existing area, and the planned final project. With construction expected to be completed in the summer of 2021, this video will help to build public and stakeholder support, engage museum patrons and donors, and attract the neighborhood’s first residents. “Videos like this one are playing a larger and larger role in project development. These models help both project stakeholders and the public become engaged and involved during the design phase of the project. They can also be used for fundraising purposes or to present the projects to decision makers,” said Bob Steehler, LaBella’s Project Manager.

LaBella collaborated with all of our team partners including CJS Architects, Konar Properties, Indus Hospitality Group, the City of Rochester, and The Strong Museum of Play to bring the project design to life.

#artsandrec #cultural #highway #inprogress