The Story So Far...

In early 2017 the Detroit RiverFront Conservancy (Conservancy) embarked upon a journey to transform West Riverfront Park into a dynamic gathering place for all Detroiters – and a unique destination for our region and beyond.

Conservancy leadership asked the question:

"How can we blend the insights of passionate Detroit residents with the professional expertise of top public space designers to elevate West Riverfront Park to its fullest potential?"

The Conservancy response to this question was two-fold:

  1. The Conservancy formed the West Riverfront Park Community Advisory Team (CAT), a diverse group of 21 Detroit residents from a variety of city neighborhoods, professions and cultural backgrounds. The CAT traveled nationally to benchmark today’s standard-setting parks, sharing their insights, ideas and experiences with the Conservancy, forming the basis for a design competition.
  2. The Conservancy launched a competitive selection process to identify the best design team of architects, engineers and specialty consultants. The process culminated with a design competition in which four finalist design teams comprised of national, international and local professionals created transformational design proposals for the park.

In February 2018, the four finalist design teams presented their work to the Conservancy and its jury, as part of a Detroit-based public exhibition. In April, the Conservancy announced its selection of the team led by Michael Van Valkenburgh and Associates as the winner of the design competition for West Riverfront Park.

The Conservancy looks forward to the future evolution of West Riverfront Park, and invites the public to participate in the process.

This is just the beginning!

The MVVA Team will begin to develop the park concept with input from the community through 2018 & into 2019.

West Riverfront Park Has a New Name!

The Detroit RiverFront Conservancy thanks the Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation for its support of this project. On October 17, 2018, “West Riverfront Park” was officially renamed “Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Centennial Park.” The Foundation is committing $40 million for construction activity for the new park and $10 million to support the broader efforts for long-term sustainability along the riverfront. The announcement was made as part of a $200 million investment in parks and trails in Southeastern Michigan and in Western New York.

The gift honors the Foundation’s namesake, Ralph C. Wilson, Jr, on the 100th anniversary of his birth and celebrates his legacy in the communities he loved. The funds will be split evenly, dedicating $100 million to each region to help develop signature legacy parks, advance the vision of completed regional trail systems, and support the sustainability of these public spaces.

Groundbreaking May 10, 2022

The Detroit Riverfront Conservancy broke ground on the Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Centennial Park in May, 2022.  When the new park opens in 2025, it will feature the Delta Dental Play Garden, an expansive lawn for programs and special events, basketball courts in the Sport House and a large Water Garden.