Peer Architectural Review Process In Action

Architecture shapes the appearance and livability of every community. In recent years, the City has worked to improve the quality of new architecture, with the goal of giving New Rochelle a more vital and attractive look while minimizing negative visual impacts on existing neighborhoods. To that end, an innovative and collaborative process of Peer Architectural Review brings panels of independent architects together with project planners to share ideas.

As you may know, the Waste Water Treatment Plant on LeFevre Lane in New Rochelle is about to undergo a major and costly upgrade to enhance its treatment capacity. Part of this project involves the construction of a large new building on the site for Biological Nutrient Removal.

The WWTP is wholly owned and operated by the County government, which is designing and funding the upgrade (in large part through sewer district taxes that residents pay). Therefore, the City has no control over the project. Recognizing, however, that the nature and appearance of the new WWTP will impact the surrounding area, City officials, including myself and Council Member Albert Tarantino, who represents the site, asked the County to voluntarily participate in the Peer Architectural Review process. To its credit, the County has done so.

This document contains excerpts of comments made by the City’s panel, together with the County’s response. As you will see, some recommendations were accepted and others not. My point in sharing this is not to extol the virtues of the new WWTP itself (which I fear will be an unavoidably intrusive presence no matter how much it is dressed up), but rather to illustrate the value and thoughtfulness of the Peer Review method. This process will certainly be applied to future public and private developments of any significant size.