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The Pike Company unveiled the design for the Windstream offices on Monday. Pike will spend $19 million (with some taxpayer help) to rehab what remains of the Seneca Building.

The response to the renderings was a collective shrug.


Architect Roger Brown of the Rochester Regional Community Design Center said, “It’s a nice Rochester building. It’s very conservative. It meets a lot of the urban design requirements, such as transparency, detail and the material. It’s got a little bit of flair with the entranceway.”

But Brown said Rochester would be “missing the boat” if the site was filled up with similar buildings.

“My disappointment is that it’s not taller. The downtown zoning code says that buildings in that area should be five stories or more in height, at least that’s my interpretation. I think buildings in that location should have more of a presence.”

The building is what it is for one reason – money. PAETEC scaled down its planned headquarters several times. We’re lucky anything is happening at the site at all. Pike and Windstream deserve major kudos for taking the plunge. But like Brown, I’d hate to see the entire site filled up with run-of-the-mill buildings.

There’s still time for the “wow” to surface. Midtown Tower could end up being quite beautiful. If all goes as planned, it will bring density, housing and retail.

This is a tremendous opportunity to reshape downtown. Midtown Plaza was a wall that obstructed views and created an artificial barrier between Main Street and the East End. Tearing down Midtown Plaza clearly opened up downtown. I hope the city proceeds very carefully on the development of the remaining parcels.

The next 50 years of downtown are at stake.

11 Responses to Where’s the Wow?

  1. March 27, 2012 at 6:27 pm Kevin Yost responds:

    Park Avenue also needs to be connected to this and James Street via the new roundabout and E. Court and E. Broad streets once the Inner Loop is filled in.

    There could be an architecturally-sinificant re-formed National Soccer Hall of Fame and International Women’s Sports Hall of Fame on the site or other downtown sites and maybe also a new Sahlen’s Stadium for rectangular sports with better parking and the currently one could be converted to a softball stadium for a local franchise of the National Pro Fastpitch women’s pro softball league.

    All of this, except for the mentioned new street patterns, should not come from taxpayer dollars, except some from Regional Economic Development Council funding and the rest private dollars.

  2. March 28, 2012 at 10:36 am Adam B responds:

    Bigger doesn’t necessarily mean better. I’d prefer anything that promotes pedestrian traffic – lots of street level retail, with some residential and commercial space as well. We don’t need another skyscraper down there – the ones we have now aren’t close to full. Make an architectural statement if you feel you have to, but that doesn’t mean some tall building that will sit mostly empty for years while people complain what a boondoggle it was. Build something that people will actually use.

  3. March 28, 2012 at 6:31 pm Lynn E responds:

    Downtown will come back when downtown is wanted and needed. Right now even Windstream was pushed into going downtown and putting as little business as possible.

  4. March 28, 2012 at 11:41 pm Mittens responds:

    Too short and extremely inappropriate for downtown, and why is there a 50 foot gap between Main Street and the front of the building? Lmao…

  5. I would have preferred a green space in there-

    • Don’t worry, you’ll have plenty of that coveted “green space” soon enough!

      BTW, have you ever noticed that downtown already has plenty of greenspace that no one uses?

      Good Luck.

  6. Well, it will nicely match the bus shed in terms of tragically bad decisions for downtown.

    Soooooooooo glad no one listened to RRCDC, Landmark Society, RDDC and little old me when we told Labella’s men to consider that Paetec was making bad decisions about the site plan.

    Rochester’s town square was demolished for this bland garbage.

    Well, IF it gets built…we’ll see.

    Good Luck.

  7. Why does the main entrance not face Main St? Does that not strike anyone as odd?

  8. April 4, 2012 at 5:23 pm Kevin yost responds:

    Perhaps, some of the greatest designed buildings in the world that have still never been built could go on the Midtown site. For example, Russia’s Taitlin’s Tower.

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