Heart of the City: Discover. Dream. Design. Do!

RSP Architects, the Minneapolis-based firm charged with championing public realm design for DMC’s Heart of the City sub-district, received accolades from the DMC Corporation board of directors on February 8 when they presented findings from the first of four phases of the design process. The RSP-led design team includes Coen+Partners9.Square, HR&A Advisors, and Kimley-Horn.

The Discover Report was the result of 17 days of interviews, surveys, and pop-ups conducted by the Heart of the City public space design team and the culmination of their first phase of design work. During this process, the design team met with hundreds of people – visitors, patients, and community members alike – recognizing that they must understand the community well because “solutions for Heart of the City need to be authentic to Rochester.”

This unique sub-district, where Mayo Clinic intersects with commercial, hospitality, retail, and residential sectors, lies in the center of downtown Rochester and includes the Peace Plaza, Chateau Theater, and Mayo Clinic’s Plummer and Gonda Buildings. It is a connection point between residents and patients, a crossroads where the line between health and healing blurs.

Findings from the Discover Report generated a substantial amount of information, much of which will be of great value to Heart of the City and other projects as DMC continues the path to becoming America’s City for Health.

But what seemed to resonate most was the focus on the uniquely compassionate individuals that make up this great city. “Businesses and residents in the Heart of the City feel like they are part of the care team,” says RSP principal Jon Buggy. “That is a unique quality we don’t want to lose.”

Furthermore, the Discover Report found that authenticity was critical for design of the city center’s public realm. The mantra, “Make It Rochester,” echoed throughout the meeting room and captured the attention of the city’s mayor, Ardell Brede. “When I see [Make It Rochester],” he says, “I think you’ve really captured it.”

Buggy went on to describe the many ways Heart of the City can be enhanced to ensure our city’s core is a place for all to gather and connect. Creating experience zones. Removing barriers. Elevating health and healing to an art. Promoting deep mutual connections. Being proud of the area’s contrast and uniqueness. The opportunities with which we can create a more engaging and welcoming experience in Heart of the City are many.

While the Discover phase of the process is complete, Patrick Seeb, DMC’s director of economic development and placemaking, says continued engagement from the public will remain critical. “As the design team forges ahead into the Dream, Design, and Do! phases of the project,” he says, “there will be more opportunities for community members, visitors, and patients to come together to provide feedback, have discussions, and simply dream.”

Together, we will soon begin to see Heart of the City take shape.

Click here to view the entire Discover Report.

To watch the presentation by RSP Architects at the February 8 DMCC Board of Directors meeting, click here and scroll to 02:18:39.