Rochester Institute of Technology joined local dignitaries and community members in the atrium of City Hall on Thursday, when Rochester celebrated its first Italian Cultural Day.
“Our culture is a great culture, and one of the most beautiful cultures,” said Silvano Orsi, head of the Little Italy Neighborhood Association, which hopes to create a “Little Italy” section in the town of Gates. Architecture students from RIT are creating conceptual designs for the buildings.
Elisabetta D’Amanda, coordinator of the Italian language program in the modern languages and cultures department at RIT’s College of Liberal Arts, said approximately 60 RIT students study Italian each year, and 15 spend time in Genoa, Italy, in a study abroad program.
She also spoke of RIT’s Vignelli Center for Design Studies. “When you go to New York and see all the subway maps, that is their work,” she said.
Dennis Andrejko, head of the Department of Architecture at RIT’s Golisano Institute for Sustainability, said the work done by his department and its students “will be launching what I think will be a very valuable and a very important enterprise for the local community.”
Andrejko said the concepts in their renderings will include environmental, technological, sustainable and social considerations.
“Another will be urbanism,” he said. “Our students will take that idea of urbanism amongst the others and work with the Little Italy Neighborhood next semester to begin to move forward these various ideas.”
Proclamations were presented to the city from people representing the local, state and federal government.
Rochester Mayor Lovely Warren was out of town, but her representative, Communications Director James Smith, spoke on behalf of the city. He noted the stately marble architecture surrounding them, and said Italian-Americans must have done much of the work when the building was constructed in 1891.
“The fingerprints of those who came before us are all over this building,” Smith said. “It is our diversity that makes us great. We hope that we will be able to do this each and every year, as we remember to embrace what is important to us.”