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Award of Merit, Miller Building Rochester

Dec 1, 2023

The Landmark Society of Western New York

This award is given for the sympathetic rehabilitation of historic buildings in our region, completed within the past two years.

Miller Building Rochester, NY

Built circa 1865, the Miller Building (originally the Feeher & Heberting Building) is located within the Bridge Square Historic District on West Main Street in Rochester. This district was significant to the development history of Rochester as its location at the junction of the Erie Canal and West Main Street enabled early commercial development.

The building sat vacant for some time before Open Door Mission began the $6.8 million rehabilitation. The project was made possible by funding from the NYS Homeless Housing Assistance Program (HHAP). Its location in the Bridge Square Historic District required close collaboration with the State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO). The Miller Building had its grand opening in September 2022.

The team assembled for the Miller Building project included Passero (architects) and Hamilton Stern (construction). The goals of the project were to meet the need for transitional housing in the City of Rochester while avoiding the “architecture of homelessness” that many such projects perpetuate. During a tour of the building this summer, Passero Job Captain Leah Przybylski emphasized the importance of design that addresses the needs of the people who live in the building. The lobby was designed to
be open, bright, and welcoming. Apartments open into wide hallways with clear sight lines to exits and windows, creating a building that is simple to navigate and provides a sense of safety, security, and dignity.

While significant changes were required to adapt the building for residential use, Passero maintained as many historic details as possible. Exposed brick is visible throughout the building. The painted transom window above the original central door of the building was preserved. Tin ceiling tiles were repurposed along the walls of the lobby. The Miller Building now has 24 apartments (13 studio, 11 one-bedroom) that provide permanent housing for individuals that are in substance abuse recovery, have mental illnesses, have experienced chronic homelessness, and/or are victims of domestic violence. The building has on-site support services including case management, counseling, and employment assistance. In addition to a lobby, the ground floor includes office and meeting space for Open Door Mission and a community room and laundry for residents. A carefully-designed trash chute system allows residents to deposit their household trash on each residential floor to be collected in a bin at the rear of the building.

Courtesy of The Landmark Society of Western New York