The Detroit Riverfront Conservancy today announced a $345,000 grant from the Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation will be used to fund a design competition to update West Riverfront Park. Located along the Detroit River between Rosa Parks Boulevard and Eighth Street, the 22-acre site was privately owned for more than 100 years before the Conservancy acquired it in 2014.
Already, requests for qualifications have been sent to more than 80 design firms worldwide, including several from metro Detroit. The submittals will be evaluated by a national jury including representatives from the Conservancy, the City of Detroit, and local and national architecture, design, and planning experts. Eight teams will then advance for interviews that will be open to the public.
Following the interviews, five semifinalists will receive a $30,000 stipend to develop and complete design concepts over 10 weeks, with a public exhibition planned for Nov. 14-15. The Conservancy will then engage with the top two finalists before naming a winning concept in late November.
“West Riverfront Park will have a profound impact on local residents and visitors for generations,” says Mark Wallace, president and CEO of the Detroit Riverfront Conservancy. “We have a legacy of asking people what they want to see along their riverfront. By engaging our community in the process, we can transform the regional narrative about the city of Detroit and provide people with a destination that they will embrace.”
The grant from the Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation is the latest in its “healthy communities” initiative, which seeks to improve community access to public spaces and connect those spaces geographically with other areas of funding.
The project has also received support from the Michigan Department of Transportation, the Fred A. and Barbara M. Erb Family Foundation, Fifth Third Bank, Ford Motor Co., the city of Detroit, Hudson Webber Foundation, the Knight Foundation, the Kresge Foundation, and the Detroit Metro Convention and Visitors Bureau.