Genesee Valley Park West Master Plan

Documenting and Master Planning a Pastoral Masterwork

The Genesee Valley Park West (GVPW) Master Plan is a vision for transforming the City of Rochester-managed portion of Genesee Valley Park on the western side of the Genesee River. The plan is guided by 21st century recreation shifts as well as Frederick Law Olmsted’s original 1890 vision for the park as a whole – that being a place where users can experience the pastoral tranquility of the river plain with few man-made interruptions.

As a major piece of the renowned Olmsted-designed Rochester park system, the 800-acre Genesee Valley Park remains the only portion of publicly owned riverfront in Rochester that allows for serene enjoyment of a bucolic river landscape. However, since its establishment, this western bank of the park has always served important infrastructure-intensive recreational needs that began to contradict Olmsted’s vision soon after completion. These needs continue to transform based on ever-changing recreational demands. The project goal was to plan for removal of non-compatible features, and reorganize and modernize recreational infrastructure while at the same time reclaiming the critical historic design intent of allowing users to experience the natural beauty of the river. 

Where possible, and as Olmsted intended in 1890, major infrastructure was re-sited north of a long existing bridge saving lower intensity infrastructure for the more sensitive river plain south of the bridge. The resulting plan enhances recreation services while rehabilitating Olmsted’s vision. It does this by  reclaiming critical viewsheds, removing barriers, understanding the true capacity of the landscape, and fully reconsidering spatial organization and circulation. The reorganized assets focus on serving as a multi-modal crossroads of land and water trails, embrace the recreational shift towards community-based health and wellness services, and strive to provide higher quality, multi-generational, and multi-purpose recreational opportunities. 



Rochester, New York

Historic Research, Landscape Documentation, Park Master Planning


2014 Merit Award
Analysis & Planning

American Society of Landscape Architects, New York Upstate Chapter