On April 10, 2018, the Detroit RiverFront Conservancy announced New York-based landscape architect firm Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates (MVVA) as the winning firm of its international design competition to transform the 22-acre West Riverfront Park in downtown Detroit into one of the most dynamic public spaces in the world.

Michael Van Valkenburgh and his team look forward to the challenge of transforming West Riverfront Park.  “It was love at first sight when I saw the Detroit River,” said Michael Van Valkenburgh, president & CEO of Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates.  “I immediately recognized that this new park could draw the city to the water’s edge.  My team and I spent a lot of time exploring Detroit and meeting many Detroiters in the process.  We’re looking forward to making West Riverfront Park an amazing place.”

The MVVA team was made even stronger by the addition of Sir David Adjaye, principal of Adjaye Associates, who has been described in Time Magazine, as “one of the great architectural visionaries of our time.”

In 2017, Adjaye was the only architect to be named to the Time Magazine list of 100 Most Influential People.  The same year, he won the London Design Medal and received a knighthood from the Queen of England.  He also completed the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington DC. 

Brooklyn Bridge Park in New York and Maggie Daley Park in Chicago are among the firm’s most notable projects.  MVVA is known worldwide for its creative and unique urban design with projects that include parks, plazas, cultural institutions, colleges and universities and gardens.  Clients include Princeton University, Harvard University, Wellesley College, The Menil Collection and Waterfront Toronto.

The firm’s projects have received many significant professional honors for design excellence and for innovation. MVVA’s work with Brooklyn Bridge Park was awarded the Brendan Gill Prize from the Municipal Art Society of New York in 2010, which is given to a work of art that best captures the energy and spirit of New York City. Additionally, the firm was selected as the Firm of the Year by the American Society of Landscape Architects in 2016.  Last year, the firm received the Global Award for Excellence from the Urban Land Institute for its work on the Corktown Common Project in Toronto.

The Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates team also includes Utile, Mobility in Chain (MIC), and Emmanuel Pratt.  The firm’s local partners included LimnoTech (Ann Arbor), PEA (Detroit) and NTH Consultants (Northville).

Since the Conservancy opened West Riverfront Park in 2014, it has become a popular destination for Detroiters and tourists alike who enjoy the park’s wide-open spaces and sweeping views of the Detroit and Windsor skylines.  At 22 acres, it is comparable in size to Brooklyn Bridge Park in New York City, Maggie Daley Park in Chicago and Riverside Park in Buffalo.