St. Joseph's Urban Center

Type: Office/Museum (RIT Design Project)
Location: Rochester, NY
Task: To create a small urban office and museum for exhibitions and displays of Rochester, NY history. The building must be within the existing footprint of St. Joseph's Park.
Current Phase: Design Complete


This residential project takes place on a hypothetical parcel of land in the town of Wasau, Wisconsin.  The family wants a residence with one level, has bedrooms for the two young children, an office for the father who often meets clients and co-workers at the residence, a modest kitchen and direct access to an outdoor living area.  Covered parking is necessary, as well as a variety of storage areas, inside and out.  Two full bathrooms are required. Sustainable features are heavily desired.  

Exhibition space
Bookstore space
Storage (100 square feet)
Desk/counter for employee
Private restroom
Private kitchenette

1951 Site Circulation.  St. Joseph's is in red.

First explorations of the site included documenting how the area has changed over Rochester's History.  Circluation seems to have changed drastically with the alteration of the street network and urban fabric.

2015 Site Circulation.  St. Joseph's is in red.

The new site concept for St. Joseph's involved a reimagining of the entire block.  The main component of this design concept is a diagonal pathway lined with education, retail, and restaurants.  This comes from looking at the nearby Village Gate property and how it is used and interacted with. 


Left shows circulation paths and drawing people in from the major corridors through St. Joseph's which would be used as an entry to the block as well as our urban center.


Right shows a proposed site layout of buildings and landscaping with St. Joseph's in red.

Schematic Design

The diagram to the left shows the proposed room connections and organization of spaces.  The important feature here is that an open passage is maintained through St. Joseph's Park in order to maintain the functionality as an entrance to the above development plan and public areas.

Design Development


This final floor plan showcases a large open space to showcase historical information and other travelling exhibits.  Visitors enter through the former main entrance of the church, and are greeted by the remaining high groin vaulted ceiling in the original stonework.  A newly constructed roof extends out from this same level until the beginning of the bookstore area, where clerestory windows bring the roofline down and delineate the space between the two areas.


Glass surrounds the end of the structure leading to the future development.  The idea behind this was to maintain connectivity to the area, and be able to see all the way through to another feature on the other end of the block, Schiller Park.  Ideally this would draw people from the main corridor of Clinton Avenue and pull them through or around St. Joseph's, and then into the new urban creation linking to Schiller Park, Harro East, and the Liberty Pole Way neighborhood.


Around certain spots in the class are panels to focus attention through particular windows.  These panels are comprised of four separate panels of COR-TEN resuticated metal.  The panels span up to eight feet with one foot separations between them.  This will allow for some privacy at night in the bookstore area, as well as kitchennete, bathroom, and storage areas.  Additionally, it will express the change in function to the outside viewer while also maintaining the visual connection on the central axis throught the property.


The landscaping was an integral part of the design and needed to complement the usage of the interior by being an extension of the exhibit space during the warmer seasons.  With this being a historical center, emphasis was put on making three distinct paths, each with a focus on a particular part of Rochester's history, winding innovation and technology with architecture and people.  Many of the original pavers, recovered stones from the fire that destroyed the church originally, will be kept and reorganized into the new pathways.  The former rectory stairs that lead to a blank wall now, will be utilized as part of the display with a plaque placed on the wall as was the original design proposed by Frank Grosso of Handler Grosso Architects.

Section C-C


The foundation of the design of the block was based on the idea of the Village Gate in the Neighborhood of the Arts.  The center of the block would be an open area lined with stores and restaurants.

Section A-A

The final model for the St. Joseph's Urban Center design, seen on the left, was made of handcut basswood.  Clear plastic was used to represent the windows.