project leader
Benjamin W
82 Browns Race
Upstate NY (High Falls)
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Beauty to industrial past!

the project

Friends of the GardenAerial is seeking to transform Rochester's oldest neighborhood into an EcoDistrict through the GardenAerial project!

Friends of the GardenAerial sees this project as core to the organization’s vision to advocate for conversion of pre-existing structures & trails along the Genesee Gorge at High Falls into multi-use, extraordinary public green spaces.

Click on the image above to see a larger version of the schematic.

Brown’s Race has fallen into disrepair over the last 20 years and within the last several years; the pumping system failed and the raceway could no longer generate water through its raceway. This absence of water movement has led to waste and trash in the race, which is continually being cleared by City services on a nearly weekly basis. The raceway’s initial creation was designed to serve as a tribute to Rochester’s history and past namesake (when we were known as The Flour City). The race is in the heart and birthplace of Rochester but has now unfortunately become an eyesore. Its limited features have also created a concrete hardscape that needs softening with vegetation; it seems to be an ideal candidate for a lush, ornamental garden.

We believe that this project will unite key components of Rochester’s history by combing our identity as both The Flour City and The Flower City into one cohesive project for the first time. In creating a sunken ornamental garden within a mill race re-creation, we pay tribute to Rochester’s early identities and namesakes, and create dynamic educational opportunities to learn about both the history of High Falls and our heritage as a world leader and founder in early horticulture.

We will be working in partnership with the City of Rochester as they take steps to repair the structural integrity of the race itself. They have enabled the Friends of the GardenAerial to lead efforts in the creation of a sunken ornamental garden that will appeal to both residents and tourists. High Falls is an active tourist destination and boasts the city’s highest commercial occupancy rate. The ornamental garden is also in the footprint of our  Greentopia Festival, which hosts nearly 30,000 attendees each year. Also, in 2015 the National Garden Club’s Annual Convention will come to Rochester, and our belief is that this project will serve as a showcase for the event. This garden will serve both the community and businesses in the neighborhood, while becoming a stunning attraction that is deeply rooted in (and is an interpretation of) Rochester’s history.

The sunken garden will focus on creating a year round attraction through the plantings of ornamentals, evergreen and deciduous shrubs, perennials, and a variety of grasses. The project scope will include creating the ability to heat the water in the race to allow for an active engaging garden even in the harsh winter months in upstate New York, and will feature a variable pump to create a ripple effect throughout the race. We also believe that the sunken gardens in the race will create unique viewing vantage points and perspectives with its pre-existing pedestrian bridges above the gardens themselves. Friends of the GardenAerial will also seek to utilize sustainable methods to heat and power these features, including exploring the use of rain barrels and wind power, and solar panel technology.

To enable night visibility, the race will feature lighting on both the water and plantings. Additional features of the Browns Race sunken gardens will include interpretive signage. A portion of the GardenAerial website and mobile site will be dedicated to the project itself. Social media will be utilized to create the possibilities of place “check-ins” including user-submitted photos that can expand marketing of the gardens “virally,” and create increased awareness.

This project represents both our past and future as we look to position our birthplace as a city to create the first ever EcoDistrict in New York State. We believe this first phase of the GardenAerial will enable a tangaible translation into future environmentally sustainable development.


the steps

This project is a joint public-private parternship with the City of Rochester. As the City begins to repair the raceway so that water may again flow through it, Friends of the GardenAerial will begin to implement schematic design to supplement the raceway and begin the green transformation of High Falls.

We will be engaging the community as a whole for this project to come together by vetting support from local garden clubs, landscaping firms, and individual donors. Ioby gives us a tremendous platrform to involve the local community in our efforts to bring a revilatized and green future to our city.

We will begin a 6 week campaign starting in February to raise awareness and funds for our project, our goal for completion will be in time for our 2013 Greentopia Festival to be held in the second week of Septemeber in 2013.

why we're doing it

This project has a tremendous opportunity to contribute to the beautiful High Falls neighborhood. The unique ability to blend history and heritage with innovative green space and infrastructure has the potential to translate the GardenAerial project and help us to celebrate Rochester's first EcoDistrict.

This is a story of transformation from our past of heavy industry into a story of sustainable development. We are returning this neighborhood and gorge to the community of Rochester for the first time since it was founded. This window into the future will encourage vision and development as we see a rustbelt city redefined as one of green innovation.



Friends of the GardenAerial is utilizing ioby to initiate the project and to build awareness and community ownership. Your assistance in helping us to reach our goal of $10,000 will be demonstrate key community support for the Sustainable Sunken Garden and the larger vision of launching the first phase of the GardenAerial and window into our proposed EcoDistrict for the High Falls Heritage Area.
The City of Rochester has gone on record to state their support for the GardenAerial and to create a smaller scale project to build credibility. There thoughts were captured by City Engineer Jim McIntosh in the December 26th Democrat & Chronicle article "Rochester gets grant for 'green gorge planning' when he stated: 
"We’re all impressed with their ability to think outside the box. They’ve really thought this concept through,” said City Engineer James McIntosh. “While the mayor was impressed and saw the benefits, the next thing he said was … we have to do something on a smaller scale and complete it so we all get some credibility.”
Friends of the GardenAerial has identified the Sustainable Sunken Garden as the first key phase and smaller scale project to accomplish this task. In helping us to raise $10,000 you are demonstrating that the community believes in this project and wants it to happen.
*Your contribution will not fund the entire project cost but rather demonstrates critical support to initiate the project and demonstrate to key stakeholders that the project has community support.
Our goal is to have the initial phase of this project completed by September of 2013 with the Community Campaign reaching our goal of $10,000 by April of 2013.
Please support our Community Campaign for the Sustainable Sunken Garden and help us begin to transform Rochester into a world-class green space and EcoDistrict! 



This is where photos will go once we build flickr integration


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