Downtown Rochester, New York has seen a renewed interest in the past decade. However, most of that interest and reinvestment has occurred within the eastern half of the downtown area. The western half, which is roughly bordered by the Genesee River to the east and Interstate 490 and the Inner Loop to the west, has only been lightly touched by developers. Most new building projects tend to center around creating residential apartments, many of which have price points that may exclude many populations in Rochester.

Additionally, street networks and connections tend to reinforce usage of private automobiles and dissuade the potential of walking, biking, taking public transit, or other methods of transportation. In western downtown, a lively streetscape at lunch time turns completely desolate by the close of business. Vacant office spaces are surrounded by asphalt parking lots. Through a design-based approach, this thesis looks to propose a balance of new development and reinvestment in order to create not only an active and vibrant downtown, but one that is socially equitable and considers Rochester’s populations as a whole. Background, history, and previous studies and plans of the area were researched. Community members and local organizations were consulted in order to address concerns and determine overall concepts to be proposed. These interactions shaped the project’s guiding principles and goals, which serve as a fundamental starting point for the concept. A completed master plan is proposed which aims to strike a balance of building uses and transportation options, stitch neighborhoods back together by reducing barriers, and improve walkability. By proposing new street designs, infill projects, and identifying building adaptations, this final design is a comprehensive concept that aims to create a successful and socially equitable urban plan for Rochester’s western half.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Central business districts--New York (State)--Rochester--Planning; Urban renewal--New York (State)--Rochester; Community development, Urban--New York (State)--Rochester

Publication Date


Document Type


Student Type


Degree Name

Architecture (M.Arch.)

Department, Program, or Center

Architecture (GIS)


Nana-Yaw Andoh

Advisor/Committee Member

M. Ann Howard

Advisor/Committee Member

Giovanna Potesta


RIT – Main Campus

Plan Codes