Detroit Riverfront Conservancy Announces Four Finalists for West Riverfront Park Design Competition


The Detroit RiverFront Conservancy today announced that four design firms have been selected to move forward in a design competition for West Riverfront Park, a 22-acre parcel bounded by the Detroit River, 8th Street, W. Fort Street, and Rosa Parks Blvd (12th Street).

The four firms selected include:

Gustafson Guthrie Nichol (GGN) in collaboration with Arup and Guy Nordenson and Associates. Local partners include Rossetti (Detroit), Conservation Design Forum (Grand Rapids), Building Community Value (Detroit), Salonnière (Detroit), and Mannik Smith Group (Detroit).

Hood Design Studio in collaboration with Diller Scofidio + Renfro, West 8, Richter, Arup, Fluidity, Ken Greenberg, Lotus Water and Altus.

James Corner Field Operations in collaboration with nArchitects, Sherwood Design Engineers, Milton Fearn, HR&A Advisors, Ann Zoller, ETM Associates and CMS Cost Management ServicesLocal partners include Austell Associates (Bloomfield Hills), Detroit Collaborative Design Center (Detroit), Giffels Webster (Detroit) and AKT Peerless (Farmington).

Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates in collaboration with Utile and Mobility in Chain (MIC).  Local partners include Limnotech (Ann Arbor), PEA (Detroit) and NTH Consultants (Northville).

“We’re looking to do something unique and compelling for the City of Detroit,” says Matt Cullen, board chairman of the Detroit Riverfront Conservancy.  “West Riverfront Park will be a place that Detroiters and visitors alike will be drawn to, and that will be celebrated as one of the most special public spaces in the world.”

A $345,000 grant from the Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation was used by the Detroit Riverfront Conservancy to fund the design competition, which launched in July with Request for Qualifications invitations to more than 80 global firms.  Those efforts resulted in more than 20 international, national, and local design firms submitting proposals for review.

Eight firms were then selected to present their qualifications to a jury comprising Detroit Riverfront Conservancy leadership, Detroit Planning Director Maurice Cox, and several other local and national architecture and design experts on August 8-9. The jury then selected four teams to proceed.

Each of the final four firms will receive a $30,000 stipend to develop and complete design concepts. The plans will then be completed over a 12-week period, with a public exhibition of the plans and visuals in January.

“We are living through a renaissance of public space, and the firms that are moving forward in the competition have designed some of the most unique and beautiful parks in the world,” says Mark Wallace, president and CEO of the Detroit Riverfront Conservancy.  “We are looking forward to seeing their vision for West Riverfront Park and to see them engage with the public on the future of this important place.”

In addition to the public being invited to attend the presentation of the eight semi-finalists, each of the four firms will reach out within the community for input on their design ideas.  Feedback from the community will also be heavily considered when the jury makes its decision on which of the four firms move forward in the competition.

For nearly 100 years, the site was privately owned and closed to the public until the Detroit Riverfront Conservancy purchased the property and opened the park in 2014.  Since then, the park has become a popular destination for people to enjoy the outdoors as well as hosting several concerts and events, including Touch-A-Truck, Mo Pop Festival, and Charivari Electronic Music Festival.

In addition to the support received from the Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation for the design competition, riverfront planning is made possible by the Michigan Department of Transportation, the Fred A. and Barbara M. Erb Family Foundation, Fifth Third Bank, FORD/UAW, the City of Detroit, Hudson Webber Foundation, the Knight Foundation, the Kresge Foundation, and the Detroit Metro Convention and Visitors Bureau.