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West RiverWalk Ambassador Bridge

Detroit’s riverfront to the east has undergone an immense transformation and has won numerous awards. Now, if all goes to plan, the West Riverfront Park will become a “world class” destination.

If you’re not familiar, West Riverfront Park is a 22 acre parcel between Eighth and Rosa Parks Boulevard along the Detroit riverfront, just behind the giant post office there on Fort. Various events like MoPop and this year’s Charivari Festival will be held there.

To make this reimagination happen, you need designs. The Detroit RiverFront Conservancy has been awarded a $345,000 grant to fund an international design competition from the Ralph C. Wilson Foundation.

“We’re thrilled to receive this grant from the Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation,” said Matt Cullen, chair of the Detroit RiverFront Conservancy Board of Directors.  “It will allow us to reach out to some of the world’s most talented designers and work with them to create an iconic new destination in Detroit.”

According to the Conservancy, requests for qualifications have been sent to more than 80 design firms throughout the world, including several from Metro Detroit, and are due back to the Conservancy July 19. A national jury comprising representatives from the Conservancy, the City of Detroit and local and national architectural design and planning experts will review the submissions.

Eight teams will advance for interviews that will be open to the general public on August 8 & 9.  Following the interviews, five semifinalist teams will receive a $30,000 stipend to develop and complete design concepts. The plans will be completed over a 10-week period, with a public exhibition on November 14 & 15.  The Conservancy will then engage the two top finalists before announcing the winning concept in late November.

“An internationally-acclaimed design for West Riverfront Park will allow our region to dream big,” said David Egner, president & CEO, Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation.  “As a possible regional anchor, this project has the potential to improve the quality of life for residents, inspire further investment and help tie communities together, providing access for Southeast Michigan to more green space and recreation.”

There also will be public input on the process.

“West Riverfront Park will have a profound impact on local residents and visitors for generations,” said Mark Wallace, president and CEO of the Detroit RiverFront Conservancy. “We have a legacy of asking people what they want to see along their riverfront.  By engaging our community in the process, we can transform the regional narrative about the City of Detroit and provide people with a destination that they will embrace.”