Heart of the City Design Receives DMCC Board Nod

Universal Design a Key Element

The Destination Medical Center Corporation (DMCC) Board has approved design for DMC’s Heart of the City and public realm development, which includes the east side of Peace Plaza, First Avenue and adjacent alleys in downtown Rochester.

The Heart of the City design addresses seven key goals, including: safety, accessibility and universal design, public space, flexibility, sustainability, art integration and infrastructure.

The DMCC Board also authorized development of construction documents, with the expectation of construction commencing in the spring of 2020.

“This critical work in Heart of the City and Rochester’s downtown core is setting a new standard for public space design and engagement,” said Lisa Clarke, executive director, DMC Economic Development Agency. “Residents, visitors and patients will experience a welcoming, safe, accessible and much greener Peace Plaza and surrounding area.”

DMC has been prototyping various design elements in Heart of the City including, most recently, Universal Design in Peace Plaza with some benches that will be tested, modified and re-tested in new locations throughout the summer.

Universal Design is defined as: “The design of products and environments to be useful by all people, to the greatest extent possible, without the need for adaptation or specialized design.”

For Heart of the City, it means that everything being created and built for each of the spaces (First Avenue, Peace Plaza and alleys) is designed to be accessible to everyone who uses them, as well as accommodate a wide range of individual preferences, experiences, languages and capabilities.

MOKA, soon to provide a new coffee experience in Peace Plaza, is incorporating elements of Universal Design into its retail space. MOKA Project Manager Julie Hatlem highlights what guests can expect: “Coming directly off the Plaza we have a no-step building entry that everyone can use easily and together. Inside the cafe, we have kept our walkway open and spacious to accommodate greater accessibility. The order counter and serving counter are both at a lower height to make it easy for everyone to order and pick up their drinks. When designing our custom tables and seating, we took into consideration several elements of Universal Design: Body fit, comfort, wellness, and social integration. Seating will be built to accommodate a wide range of body sizes and abilities. Tables will have ample space for wheelchairs to easily access and join a conversation.”

Peace Plaza will be the third location in Rochester for MOKA.

“Coffee is a universal language that brings people together and to us, it is a natural fit for MOKA to be at the heart of all of the city. We look forward to opening our doors on Peace Plaza this summer,” said Hatlem.