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How Heart of the City work enhances the downtown visitor experience

Imagine Rochester as an atom (how fitting for this being a medical community). At its center is a positive, strong nucleus that is downtown. And what charges…we mean changes…it has undergone since spring 2020. Let’s look under the microscope at how the new Heart of the City design enhances the downtown visitor and event attendee experience to create a gathering place for all.

What’s new:

Many people come to or pass through Peace Plaza—a part of Heart of the City—for downtown events like Thursdays Downtown, Roller Disco, and Here Comes Santa Claus, to name just a few. But if you stopped and looked around, you might have noticed the space appears different yet oddly familiar with these new components.


The most noticeable of features added to Heart of the City are the new Armstrong maple and Regal Prince oak trees that line 1st Avenue Southwest. They provide a nice backdrop for event vendors’ tents, which, when nestled among the trees, create little worlds all their own made for exploring. The leafy trees additionally provide shade from the summer heat when sitting on the new benches (read more about them in the next section) and enjoying a delicious taco or scrumptious slice of pizza from a nearby food vendor.


Take a load off! That’s what these new benches in Heart of the City were made for. Whether you need to get off your feet or take time to ease your mind, these seating options allow you to rest how you like. They can double as a traditional seat as well as a standing place to lean. What’s nice about these benches is they allow for conversation with those seeking respite, too, or the simple solitude. Those with physical disabilities will find these benches accessible for them, as well.


Speaking of accessibility, the new curbless streets (i.e., those without a raised concrete edge between the sidewalk and the roadway) allow for easier access to all portions of Heart of the City. The space is designed with pedestrians, rather than cars, in mind to provide a safer walking experience, especially for those attending events.

Behind every element, there is a reason for its incorporation into the Heart of the City work. Learn more about the design principles here.

What’s to come:

Catenary light system

Envision attending SocialICE 2023. Standing in the east section of Peace Plaza, you look now be able to look up and see a one-of-a-kind catenary light system. This art installation—to be completed in 2022—will also give event goers reason to linger longer in Peace Plaza and explore the rest of downtown.

Flexible stage and more seating

All the world is a stage, and Peace Plaza’s realm is no different. With the addition of a flexible stage, more entertainment options for smaller events and passive opportunities will be created in Heart of the City. That opens more ways for people to engage with others and to enjoy downtown as the unique place it is.

Wakefield installation

Just across the street from Peace Plaza is the renowned Mayo Clinic. Approximately 3.2 million people of all walks of life visit Mayo Clinic in a year. This real-time feature will share with the downtown community medical events with light and fog as a medium.

While much has changed in Peace Plaza, there are many positives to be excited about our nucleus that is downtown. All for the good of creating a more inclusive, welcoming, and safer downtown for visitors, event attendees, and all who live, work, and play here. As the Heart of the City work enters the final stages, visit Destination Medical Center’s website here for all the changes yet to come.