Detroit’s Waterfront is Setting a Precedent for Community Led Architecture

As the river offers a place of beauty and solitude to the people of Detroit, four international design teams have presented their creative schemes for the West Riverfront to extend this vibrant area in the city as part of an international design competition led by the Detroit Riverfront Conservancy (DRFC). The development of the 22-acre West Riverfront Park is expected to cost around $50 million to complete the DRFC’s ultimate vision for 5.5 miles of revitalized riverfront.

The four principal firms include Gustafson Guthrie Nichol (GGN), Hood Design Studio (HDS), James Corner Field Operations and Michael Van Valkenburgh and Associates (MVVA) collaborating with numerous Detroitand Michigan- based firms. Each of the teams has collaborated closely with the public to achieve a design that gives justice to the legacy of the people.

“The firms that are vying to win this competition have created some of the most unique and celebrated public spaces in the world. They’ve spent a significant amount of time learning these last five months what Detroiters want to see at West Riverfront Park, so we are excited to share these visions with the public – Maurice D. Cox, director of the City of Detroit Planning & Development Department”

The community-led design process has been integral for the development of proposals for a recognized park suited for the city of Detroit and has set a precedent for public engagement in architecture that has attracted attention across the country. A Community Advisory Team (CAT) was set up to engage with the project, the group included a variety of local residents that were given the opportunity to visit amazing parks across the country in Chicago, New York and Philadelphia and feedback their experiences of these spaces. There has been a further effort to involve the people of Detroit by organizing a public design exhibition to interact with the design concepts and once the winning proposal is selected there will be further opportunities for the community to view the rendering and models shape the final design.

Since the DRFC was founded in 2003, their aim has been to develop a public space based on the historic riverfront of Detroit. Over 3 million people visit the river each year, so it bears great importance to the city. So far, the organization has adapted 85% of the East Riverfront that has proven a great success as a destination to enjoy the outdoors and striking views of the river and Canada and it’s now the West’s turn to receive the same revolutionizing treatment.

(Source : Archdaily)