It is no surprise that Rochdale’s brand identity has become synonymous with the great outdoors. The cooperative’s logo, which has twin pine trees placed side by side and surrounded by a circle, says it all. Since the cooperative’s opening in 1963, Rochdale Village has championed the value of self-sufficient sustainability, the capstone of which is the concept of sprawling green spaces and renewable energy from its own power plant.
Robert Moses, former Parks Commissioner for the City of New York, challenged seasoned cooperative housing pioneer and architect, Herman J. Jessor, to design an expansive cooperative complex on land that was originally occupied by the Jamaica Racetrack. Relying on his personal interests as a city planner, Moses required that Jessor create a design that would include the elements of a park-like atmosphere, a layout that encouraged continual cross breezes and a functional, uncongested, open plan landscape. The design below is one of Jessor’s rarely seen first drafts of the Rochdale Village cooperative design which has the green space prominently featured in the center of the complex and up to 27 apartment buildings crowded throughout the grounds in groups of three, four and six. As Rochdale residents know, this early layout was rejected in favor of the five housing circles that currently grace the perimeter of the landscape with each circle having four fourteen-story buildings. The landscape is rarely at a loss for wind as multiple open spaces dot the grounds creating a sense of “flowetry”.
The Rochdale Village Power Plant continues to be a unique asset for its time when considering how many other areas in New York City maintain energy resources that are virtually “off the grid” from Con Edison.
Never are cooperators more conscious of the value of Rochdale’s independent Power Plant than when surrounding metropolitan areas go dark and RV, like a jewel, glistens in the night. Let’s give three cheers for the energy, power and lush green spaces of Rochdale Village, 50 years young and counting.