4 firms to compete to design West Riverfront Park plan

Candice Williams
The Detroit News

Detroit — Four internationally acclaimed firms have been chosen as finalists in a design competition to imagine how to use the space of West Riverfront Park, the Detroit RiverFront Conservancy announced Wednesday.

“We’re looking to do something unique and compelling for the City of Detroit,” said Matt Cullen, chairman of the board of directors of the Detroit RiverFront Conservancy, in a statement. “West Riverfront Park will be a place that Detroiters and visitors alike will be drawn to, and that will be celebrated as one of the most special public spaces in the world.”

Detroit’s West Riverfront Park is a 22-acre site between Rosa Parks Boulevard and Eighth Street along the riverfront. It was the home of a former newspaper printing plant until 2007, when the joint venture that operates The Detroit News and the Detroit Free Press, then known as Detroit Media Partnership, sold the property to the conservancy. The park has been open to the public since 2014.

The finalists will receive a $30,000 stipend to create design concepts during a 12-week period. The firms were narrowed down from eight teams that participated in public interviews earlier this month.

The four firms selected are:

■Seattle, Washington-based Gustafson Guthrie Nichol in collaboration with Arup and Guy Nordenson and Associates. Local partners include Detroit-based Rossetti, Grand Rapids-based Conservation Design Forum, Detroit-based Building Community Value, Detroit-based Salonnière and Detroit-based Mannik Smith Group.

■Oakland, California-based Hood Design Studio in collaboration with Diller Scofidio + Renfro, West 8, Richter, Arup, Fluidity, Ken Greenberg, Lotus Water and Altus.

■New York City-based James Corner Field Operations in collaboration with nArchitects, Sherwood Design Engineers, Milton Fearn, HR&A Advisors, Ann Zoller, ETM Associates and CMS Cost Management Services. Local partners include Bloomfield Hills-based Austell Associates, Detroit Collaborative Design Center, Detroit-based Giffels Webster and Farmington-based AKT Peerless.

■Brooklyn, New York-based Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates in collaboration with Utile and Mobility in Chain. Local partners include Ann Arbor-based Limnotech, Detroit-based PEA and Northville-based NTH Consultants.

“These finalists are amongst the best landscape architects working — anywhere,” said Maurice Cox, director of the City of Detroit Planning and Development Department. “In their presentations to the public, they showed a real passion for Detroit and reminded us just how much landscapes can bring people together. Detroit now gets the chance to see not just one vision, but four unique interpretations of what an inclusive West Riverfront Park can be.”

The firms’ concepts will be featured in a public exhibition in January.

The design competition is funded through a $345,000 grant the conservancy was awarded last month from the Ralph C. Wilson Jr. Foundation to transform the park.

More than 80 firms were invited to participate in the competition and more than 20 submitted proposals for review, according to the conservancy.

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