The West Riverfront Park Design Competition was announced in June of last year, and has since drawn interest nationally and internationally from leading landscape architects and design professionals. After receiving 22 responses to the request for qualifications and shortlisting eight teams for interviews, four teams have been selected as finalists to advance to the Competition round.

The West Riverfront Park Design Competition incorporates a unique community-led design process in which the public has been encouraged to share their ideas and input all throughout the project. In addition to hosting several community meetings, the Conservancy assembled a Community Advisory Team (CAT) made up of every-day Detroiters who visited public places in world-class cities like Chicago, New York and Philadelphia so that they could report back on their experiences. 

Through a public exhibition, held February 10-22, visitors were able to see the renderings and models from the four finalist design firms listed below. On Tuesday, April 10th the Conservancy announced the winner of the West Riverfront Design Competition at a public press conference and the winning firm was Michael Van Valkenburgh and Associates. For more information, click here

The four design firms, whose notable projects include Maggie Daley Park in Chicago, the Lurie Garden at Millennium Park, also in Chicago, the High Line in New York City and de Young Museum Gardens in San Francisco, are among the most well-respected and innovative firms in the world.  Numerous Detroit or Michigan-based firms are represented among the teams as well.  The four principal firms 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). GGN is a landscape architecture firm based in Seattle. Notable projects include the National Museum of African America History and Culture (Washington, DC) and the Lurie Garden at Millennium Park in Chicago.

Hood Design Studio (HDS), in collaboration with Diller Scofidio + Renfro, West 8, Richter, Arup, Fluidity, Ken Greenberg, Lotus Water, Altus and Culture Lab (Detroit).  HDS is based in Oakland, California. Notable projects include the de Young Museum Gardens in San Francisco and the Coastlines in Wilmington, California.

James Corner Field Operations, in collaboration with nArchitects, Sherwood Design Engineers, Milton Fearn, HR&A Advisors, Ann Zoller / Strategy Design Partners, ETM Associates and CMS Cost Management Services.  Local partners include Austell Associates (Bloomfield Hills), Detroit Collaborative Design Center (Detroit), Giffels Webster (Detroit) and AKT Peerless (Farmington). James Corner Field Operations is a landscape architecture, public realm and urban design firm based in New York City. Notable projects include the High Line in New York and South Park Plaza at Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park in London.

Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates (MVVA), in collaboration with Utile and Mobility in Chain (MIC).  Local partners include LimnoTech (Ann Arbor), PEA (Detroit) and NTH Consultants (Northville).  MVVA is a landscape architecture based firm based in Brooklyn, New York. Notable projects include Brooklyn Bridge Park in Brooklyn and Maggie Daley Park in Chicago.

The site where West Riverfront Park is located was privately owned and closed to the public for nearly 100 years 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 and striking views of the Detroit and the Windsor skylines.  The park has also been the site of several large-scale concerts. 

A $345,000 grant from the Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation made the West Riverfront Park Design Competition possible.  The grant comes from the foundation’s “Livable Communities” focus area that seeks to create strong and sustainable communities by supporting parks, trails and green design. 

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 & Visitors Bureau.

Click here to access a gallery of design renderings 

Click here to access the #FutureParkDetroit video