Detroit by Design 2012: Detroit Riverfront Competition
Location - Detroit, MI
The competition focuses on the area between Cobo Hall and the Renaissance Center and between Jefferson Avenue and the Detroit River. This section of Riverfront which includes Hart Plaza is at the heart of the city. The site lost its prominence as the city’s town square when a new park was created a couple of block to the north. The program is direct and purposefully vague with the intention of generating creative solutions. Objective is to amaze and connect.
The project presented addresses the development and redesign of the waterfront of downtown Detroit, in hopes of revitalizing pedestrian use and circulation. The vision for the waterfront includes transforming the current ‘dead’ zone into a sport and recreation district, high end retail strip, dining and fresh markets, cultural interaction spaces with museum space as well as the possibility of introducing an art district. The importance of urban open space, housing and commerce was also brought to light. Specifically, we have discussed incorporating green space to create value and retrofit the old downtown, as well as the current highway and street layout. For this competition I worked with Courtland Eddings.
Reestablishing Urban Links
As we analyzed the problems of the city and the solutions that we can provide, we decided to divide the master plan into a three phase plan. The first phase will consist of transforming Jefferson Avenue into a major shopping strip. The city itself is in a high need of pedestrian activity. By having a strip of stores and restaurants by the entrance of the site, it will start creating a catalyst and funnel the activity into the site.
Another major change is converting the ten lane highway into a four lane avenue. By doing this is will reduce the incoming vehicle traffic and invite more pedestrian flow into the site.
Phase 2 involves the development of the site. As showed on the master plan, we decided to provide a large amount of green space to the public. We also included different outdoors activities through out the site to get people involved. They include a boat club, open fields for outdoor sports, water feature for water activities and ice skating, and art installation. Also there are restaurants, cafes, and museums. On the other side of the site we included apartment complexes which is something the city lacks on.
Reintroducing the Highway
One of the biggest problems we noticed with the site is the massive ten lane highway that cuts through the city right in front of the site. Having highway 10 in front of the site discourages pedestrian traffic to access the site. We further analyzed the highway activity and noticed the amount of cars traveling daily is very low compared to major highways in the nation. As a result, in phase one we transformed the highway into a avenue and converted into a shopping strip. Phase three is reintroducing the highway back to the city. In fifty years, we are hopping that if the city gains a lot of activity, then there will be a need for a highway. If so we are proposing to move the highway underground so it wont interrupt the pedestrian flow of the city.