Alexander Commons

Rochester, New York

East House

In response to the need for safe, affordable housing in the Center City of Rochester, NY, this new 60-unit apartment residence is located on a 1.5-acre urban infill site of a former asphalt surface parking lot. Serving a mixed-population of individuals with limited income and mental illness, the one-bedroom units provide those with special needs the opportunity to live in a supportive environment, near essential community services in an established, walkable neighborhood.

 

The new building takes cues from its surrounding context.  It’s boomerang-shaped footprint hugs the urban street, then gently pulls back to reveal the 120-year-old brick church tower beyond, framing a new exterior south-facing landscaped courtyard. Limited parking is provided in the rear and screened by the new infill building, as many services are in walking distance or within a short ride with public transit.

 

The building’s three-story massing, with a formal central entrance flanked by two wings, is consistent with the public high school directly across the street. The building materials tie into the existing context, with smooth red and buff-colored brick, warm grey and charcoal lap siding, fitting in with the school and church as well as neighboring apartment buildings and large multifamily homes.

 

The building interior spaces tie into the surroundings, as the central lobby provides views to the Downtown skyline to the West, and the resident lounges frame views of the school to the East. Abundant natural light permeates the interior, and warm, natural materials contribute to a therapeutic environment. The over-sized double-hung windows echo the proportions of those found on nearby buildings. The 1-bedroom apartments have 9-feet-high ceilings that enhance the feeling of openness in a modestly-sized unit.

 

Importance was placed on both sustainability and affordability. The building’s energy efficiency exceeds the NYS Energy Code requirements and is Energy Star and Enterprise Green Communities certified. Parking space requirements were reduced through a municipal demand analysis process to maximize green space and minimize impervious surfaces.