Four years ago Robert Fornataro, AIA, LEED AP BD+C never imagined the vision of Charlotte Square would attain template status as Rochester, N.Y.’s unofficial housing blueprint.
Yet that’s exactly what the $12 million, three-phase multifamily project has achieved.
The initial phase, a 72-unit market-rate apartment community, opened two years ago and leased-up immediately at the city’s highest rental rate, according to Fornataro, senior associate at SWBR.
Give credit to Fornataro and the leadership team at SWBR for thinking far beyond the scope of the city’s RFP. “We teamed up with multifamily developer, manager, and general contractor Home Leasing and pitched our ideas to the city. We presented a master plan delivered in three phases,” explains Fornataro. The city embraced the vision and awarded the SWBR/Home Leasing team the business. Phase 2, the construction of 10 for-sale townhouses, is now finishing and nearly sold out. Phase 3 is a 50-unit affordable, mixed-income apartment community now under construction.
Modern, Sustainable Design
The Phase 1 structure is a four-story podium building that includes a rooftop community terrace, secure bike storage, fitness center, firepit, community room with kitchen, and indoor parking. Home Leasing, a Certified B Corporation, encouraged SWBR to integrate sustainability design practices into Charlotte Square, including a rooftop 50-gigawatt solar panel array. Charlotte Square is certified LEED Gold by the USGBC.
Design-wise, Fornataro and his team knitted-together all three phases with a variety of architectural features, such as fiber cement exterior panels and cement blocks with smooth and chiseled looks. “We’re not trying to be revolutionary. We respect history and local context and design to be evolutionary. I grew up here. Now I’m lucky now to be a part of the city’s rebirth,” he says.
Unifying Design Feature
One other design feature adds a touch of distinction across all three phases says Fornataro: a cable rail in-fill system for 165 individual balconies and 600 feet of first-floor roof seating and entertaining perimeter.
“We wanted something open and transparent,” Fornataro says. “We considered glass, but ruled it out because of cost and maintenance. We did more research and made the decision to use Feeney’s DesignRail aluminum railing system with stainless steel CableRail infill.”
Slim, Sleek, and Simple
Erik Reynolds, project designer and Fornataro’s colleague at SWBR, says Feeney checked all the boxes for their design requirements.
“Feeney details are very simple and the installation is very straightforward. Everything is assembled in a very logical way. The details are slim and sleek and help provide the see-through effect we wanted. Their color matching is outstanding, too. There’s really nothing else that compares to it,” Reynolds observes.
The city has signaled their approval by issuing another RFP and “actually used some of our initial Charlotte Square renderings” to describe the new project, according to Fornataro. “The city is onboard with the philosophy here and wants the trend to continue.”
Learn more about Charlotte Square’s Feeney CableRail system.