Cornerstone Park

Cornerstone Park is an urban park located in downtown Rochester close to the Genesee River and reminiscent of the nearby water and High Falls of the Genesee. The goal of this project was to provide a pleasant public space for workers in the adjacent businesses, users of the central library and visitors to downtown who arrive from the nearby hotels, Rochester Convention Center, and other venues. The rehabilitation of Cornerstone Park insured the creation of an inviting and active public space and a shining example of green infrastructure practices. The 13,000 SF park includes renovation/replacement of the existing water feature, a bioretention area, a picnic area, replacement of park furnishings and new landscaping. The water feature is a 0-depth fountain which allows for visitors and children to interact with it, feel it, and play in it.  

Preservation of existing Tree Canopy: It was important and a project goal from the start to preserve all 12 Thornless Honeylocust trees in the center of the park. They provided ready and valuable shade for visitors who would have been exposed to the mid-day and afternoon sun. It was exceedingly difficult throughout the course of the project to insure the survival of the trees given the requirement for large, heavy excavation equipment in close proximity. Of note is that the effort was successful and all survived.

Preservation of the Ivy wall: Another Goal of the project was to preserve this important element which serves as a natural backdrop reducing the feeling of enclosure that might otherwise be the effect with just walls. The effort was only partially successful as some of the ivies were lost in the effort to bring electrical and mechanical components to the basement location. New Ivy is in place and growing that will take the place of plants lost. Invasive vine species (Bittersweet) and noxious Poison Ivy were removed as well. 

Improvements were funded through a matching grant from the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation. Green infrastructure improvements include a porous paver system, rain garden, retention of existing trees (Honey Locust), removal of existing irrigation system, and ground water recharge. New light poles include attractive energy – saving Dark Sky Compliant LED fixtures. The park uses durable, time-tested materials such as shaped granite seat-walls and entrance pathways, Medina stone and granite from nearby quarries and NY State, as well as Cor-Ten steel water feature and park sign. 

The site has extensive tinted concrete sidewalks, porous pavers, landscaping, and mounding to create a unique space yet blend well with the neighboring park, library, streetscape, and amenities. Grasses, groundcover, and shrub species were used to reduce maintenance and enhance the natural look of the site. Ornamental, durable, brightly colored flowering shrubs bring color to the space from early Spring through the Fall. Amenity design included selection of steel benches around the site, bike racks, and trash receptacles.

Services Provided:

Site Analysis, Schematic / Concept Design
Green Infrastructure Design, Construction Documents, Construction Administration

Project Team

Pathfinder Engineers & Architects, City DES, CP Ward, WYCO Mechanical, LLC, Concord Electric, Corp., Foundation Design P.C., Popli Design Group


Location: Rochester, NY

Client: City of Rochester

Project Completed: 2017


2019 APWA Project of the Year Award Category: under $5mil.

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