Rochester, NY Has Window Replacement Guidelines for Historic Buildings!

Rochester’s preservation board actually has window replacement guidelines. Neat, huh?

The importance of this find for me is that this clearly outlines what they expect when a developer or owner approaches the preservation board with a window replacement request. Although there are no photos, it does give options for people based on the type of window – something that is really useful to an owner who doesn’t know or care about preservation.

I was also intrigued to find out that Rochester sends an annual letter to all buildings within a historic district letting them know they are in a historic district. I guess that policy is in place so there are no questions when it comes to making a change to your historic property.

Go Rochester!


Rochester, NY historic building in downtown Rochester!
A historic building in downtown Rochester!





Retrofit for Resilience: Cities – Six Incredible Sessions You MUST Attend at NESEA BE13

Our cities need to be resilient and sustainable. Unfortunately, Hurricane Sandy has shown NY how vulnerable we are to coastal flooding and major disasters. The time has come for us to have a conversation about what we can do to plan and build smarter and invest in technologies to make our cities more resilient.  Check these six sessions out happening at the NESEA Building Energy13 conference.

If you want to have an expanded conversation about how preservation, urban planning, renewable technologies and planning for natural disasters make cities more sustainable and resilient – you NEED to come to NESEA’s BE13 conference in Boston on March 5 – 7th.

This track was designed for urban planners, architects, green builders, preservationists, city lovers and everyone in between. Come and learn about what cities across the Northeast are doing to make their cities (large and small) more sustainable, community friendly and ultimately, more resilient.

Learn about NYC disaster planning, the balance between preservation and energy efficiency, LEED for Neighborhood Development, What smaller cities like Buffalo, NY and Northampton, Mass are up too and SO MUCH MORE.

I am being serious, you can’t learn this at CNU or ACI, the conversations just don’t come together like this. Robert Leaver and I designed this track to expand a conversation that is not happening in a “whole systems thinking” type of fashion. We understand that we need to think comprehensively about our buildings, now we must use that approach with our cities. This track is designed to start that thinking process and the conversation.  Come!!

Check it out here.

You can sign up for the conference here:

Lastly, there are a lot of opportunities for volunteers, discounts for emerging professionals and sponsorships available. If you are interested, email me at !

Bernice Radle at the NESEA BE12 Keynote
Bernice Radle at the NESEA BE12 Keynote

A Viable Alternative for ECC’s Proposed Medical Classroom Building – Sheehan Hospital!

This letter was sent to Council Member Pridgen today with the YC4ECC stamp of approval for his newest proposed alternative to bring ECC’s proposed medical building downtown.  Sheehan Hospital is vacant, ready and next door to the existing City Campus and its size, existing use and location to the BNMC make this a very viable alternative. We hope Jack Quinn and the ECC Board of Trustees will seriously review this as an alternative. You can read the YC4ECC blog here. 


January 8, 2013

To the Hon. Council Member Pridgen,

Young Citizens for ECC (YC4ECC) is writing in full support for your most recent proposed alternative for  Erie Community College which appeared in the Buffalo News on Friday, January 4th, 2013. The proposal suggested utilizing the currently vacant Sheehan Hospital for all of the medical degree related needs for ECC students including classroom space, labs and more.

The proximity of this building to the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus along with its former use as a hospital, makes this proposal a very viable alternative. The structure is already in place, the existing building is located directly next to the existing downtown campus and ECC has expressed the need for medical related classroom space.

YC4ECC feels strongly that investing in the downtown campus will lead to a stronger, more accessible community college for all students across WNY. This investment will continue to make Erie County attract talent and its accessible campus will provide a strong workforce for years to come. A partnership between the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus and Erie Community College is desperately needed and wanted by the student body and this proposal is the chance to create it. As the medical campus continues to grow, the need for doctors, technicians and other medical related jobs will grow and thus, ECC can be a connector between the students and the job growth. This proposal for the Sheehan Hospital will allow ECC to be the important connector needed to provide our students with access to jobs, networking events, internships and other medical related opportunities.

Lastly, we would like to take this opportunity to thank you for continuing to push ECC with alternative options for the proposed new building. You continue to provide strong leadership for the Queen City. Young Citizens for ECC is ready to offer any assistance needed to help lead the charge in pushing for this viable alternative.



Bernice Radle

Co-Chair of Young Citizens for ECC

Historic ECC Photo

Design Like You Give A Damn (2) – A Must Read Book!

I will admit, I don’t get around to doing much “Book” related reading as much as I would like.. but this one is a super easy read and comes highly recommended by me to all of my friends who like buildings, architecture, green buildings and high design.

You can read countless reviews about Design Like You Give A Damn (2) via google and they pretty much say the same thing. This book shows ways to invest, love and design our buildings for disaster prep, design, communities and more. It shows off ingenious design techniques that are accessible to most, not just for the elite. The book gives great ideas for funding projects and things you can do at home as well. It is very inspiring!

The best part, this was edited by Architecture for Humanity, a non profit that is dedicated to high design architecture. They have compiled this book to show off the countless projects that help to go beyond the building – designs that  think about neighborhoods, building communities, diversity, sustainability and resilience. Check out their website and projects, the organization seems as though they really have their act together. They bring an expanded view to the norm of architecture and planning, which is something that Buffalo really needs more of. It also looks like they have a Toronto chapter that interested people can be a part of. Neat!

It’s so good. I am thankful that my sister picked this up for me for the holidays. If anyone wants to borrow it , let me know!


A Sad Day for Buffalo: Demolition of the Former North Baptist Church on Colvin/Tacoma in Buffalo, NY.

Another one is gone!

Another church is being demolished in the Queen City. This one was special, it graced a strong neighborhood with stable property values. It lived in an area that could have supported a creative reuse project.

No longer does this neighborhood have this historic gem to provide quality community space, jobs and cultural events. What is sad is, this one isn’t caving in like others still standing across the city. This one is stable, it is strong and reusable. Yet, it gets demolished because the owner neglected it’s property and the City gave in. Surprise!The owner was given a golden demolition ticket from the City of Buffalo, despite the fact that it qualifies to be a local landmark.

Buffalo was built when craftsmanship and detail was at an all time high in our county and in result, we have a building stock that is unlike any other. A cornucopia of building types built inspired by several styles.  This building is like a lot of them that are demolished… it’s built with three rows of brick, artisan detail in the woodwork from a profession that is no longer alive… arched windows that are no longer economically feasible to recreate and wood trusts that are made from old growth trees – a resource we have very little of these days. The buildings were built to last hundreds of years. They were built with pride, love and by ones who paid incredible attention to detail… something that we can no longer afford to built new today.

But this issue goes beyond the building. This church spent 100 years providing light and strength to families.  People married inside there. They celebrated, grieved and loved inside this structure. This was a community asset. Even the lawn gave back – it was a popular spot to play football for the neighborhood children.

So what’s next?

I hate to ask this simple question but – what is the plan?

Unfortunately, until Buffalo’s new construction market strengthens, we cannot afford to build new. With every structure demolished, we will struggle to find another use for the land and will remain vacant for years to come.

Will this become a dollar general? A neighborhood park? Will the owner neglect the land like they did the church? Will neighbors rally to create a historic district to protect another loss like this?

I often wonder if people who want this demolition realize that this now vacant lot will now reduce their property values. I wonder if they even ask themselves about the lack of city code enforcement or that if a new owner  had been found, a new rehab (raising property values and overall spirit!) would be happening in the neighborhood instead of the creation of a new vacant lot.

You have to ask yourself – What do you want to come of this lot? How can you avoid loosing assets like this in the future? What can we demand the owner to do? How can we repurpose this lot and make it a community asset?

My friends, demolition is not the answer. Let’s be creative, expect more and think outside of the box a little bit.

The Former North Baptist Church demo.
The Former North Baptist Church demo.