Archives for posts with tag: infrstructure

While my project will focus more on what is indicated in orange  as the approximate area of the interchange, there will be a secondary component of the thesis at a larger urban scale. This component will begin to illustrate the beginnings of an emergent system of networks.  For this portion, I plan to use the abandoned subway tunnel [seen as red dotted line] as a distribution spine from the transit interchange.

I have been experimenting with Grasshopper to help demonstrate some distance mappings of possible routes to and from random points.  My second attempt to use the GH component “Shortest Walk” yielded some helpful results.  The idea is to visualize the existing subway tunnel as a spine that extends eastward from the interchange and towards Rochester’s downtown.  I used a measurement of 1/2 mile as the walking tolerance so see all the possible routes one would take from the tunnel path outward.  This GH definition is a simplified version of what may come in the near future.  I intend to incorporate other disruptions or attractions within the city’s downtown to model the more complex nuances of movement.

Screen shot | green = tunnel, red = suggested route, yellow = line connecting start and end points, red “x” = traveler, grey “x” = all possible intersection points [destinations] within 1/2 mile radius along tunnel

Grasshopper definition

As the semester draws to an end, my project proposal has become clearer for my intentions of proceeding into a thesis for next semester.  I am interested in studying transportation infrastructures of declining post-industrial cities  and their potential to inform and create emergent systems for urban regeneration.  Although my investigations will consist of three parts:  transit connectivity, their intersections, and these systems’ influence on the city, the focus will be an intervention [or a series] at the intersection[s] of transit networks.  I’ve created an ideogram illustrating a glimpse of a potential transit station that would provide a new armature for Rochester’s downtown.

High energy interchanges or moments of intense intersection could be an interesting proposition for mute and desolate downtowns.  In Rochester’s case, we could begin to explore locations such as those shown in the previous post.  I’ve been looking at some Piranesi etchings of fantasy worlds and their interesting level of complexity both in physical connections of networkds and the overall atmosphere.  Could we create a hub where rail, car, bicycles and pedestrians weave at various levels of ground?  Other support spaces and programs would need to exist that would eventually begin to not only facilitate a dense point of activity, but also generate a desire to move back into the downtown.

Below is the PDF presentation I used for my mid-review.  It went well and was very helpful for me.  Next steps include investigating larger infrastructural systems and potential impacts to vacancy rates in Rochester [about 10%], making and testing a proposition for the city and a few other key goals.  There will be a lot to consider and much to investigate/explore, but that’s the fun part!

The full PDF can be downloaded here:  MIDREVIEW-presentation-sm72

The field of parking lots [outlined in red and green] spread throughout downtown Rochester prompted a Grasshopper [GH] exploration on their relationships to two corridors: the abandoned subway tunnel [shorter segment] and the Genesee River [oriented north-south].

Based on the size of each parking lot [green outlines are parking garages], points are positioned from the center of each shape while its Z-value is a factor of each individual footprint.

A modified voronoi surface creates a terrain based on parking lot sizes in top and perspective views.

After creating the 3D landform, I took perpendicular sections along each corridor to describe its relationship to the distribution of parking area.  The first set of 3 images describes the conditions along the abandoned subway tunnel.

Flattening these sections would probably help illustrate more clearly the variation in area distribution or parking [potential usable] availability along the corridor.  That will be for another time.

The following 3 images are of sections along the Genesee River.

Just when you think there are too many parking lots in downtown Rochester, you find even more parking space with stacked lots.  Here is an updated diagram with the addition of parking garages [in red].  Could we use existing networks [i.e. subway, rail, river, etc] to connect these patches?

1| Clinton + Woodbury

2| Court + South

3| South btwn Main + Broad

4| Clinton + Mortimer

5| Scio + Main

6| Andrews by the Genesee River

7| Fitzhugh

8| State + Commercial

Rochester has a rich history of transport networks that are literally layered on top of each other.  The following images illustrates snapshots of this evolution.
Erie Canal
Subway rail tracks over aquaduct [Broad Street]
Cars over the aquaduct [Broad Street]
In addition, there was also an extensive trolley system within the city before the introduction of the subway.
images from and

To get a general sense of pattern in Rochester, I began by using the Google aerial below to generate some urban graining through Grasshopper [GH].

By using a bitmap image, GH assigns values to points based on black and white values.  From those points, a Voronoi diagram [red] is created to get the following [thin green curve = approximate subway line]:

With further GH mappings, a series of estimated influence points began to populate the subway line, creating an interesting pattern of impact:

In 1920, the Erie Canal became obsolete.  In 1921, the mayor of Rochester proposed an ordinance for the construction the subway system, which put the canal bed to use.  The proposed line extended 8.5 miles with 1.5 miles of it underground.  It ran in a northwest to southeast direction which also connected to various railways in the city.


Lipman, Andrew D. “The Rochester Subway: Experiment in Municipal Rapid Transit,” City Historian, Vol. 36, No. 2 (April 1974), pp. 1-24.

Rochester has it all: abandoned infrastructure [rochester subway], industrial history, and post-industrial deterioration.  It seems to be the perfect fit for my investigations.

And into the tunnel we go…

This clip is part of a Special Feature from “The End of the Line — Rochester’s Subway” DVD. Music by Philip C. Carli. © 2005 Animatus Studio, all rights reserved.