SOM reveals plans to transform Detroit’s waterfront

A team led by Chicago architect Skidmore, Owings and Merrill (SOM) has unveiled plans to transform Detroit’s East Riverfront District, near one of the world’s busiest international border crossings.

As with much of northern Michigan, the de-industrialisation of the 1980s and 90s has creates a vicious circle of high crime and unemployment, and low taxes and investment.

Regeneration projects such as East Riverfront are intended to capitalise on inexpensive land to attract economic activity back to the region’s most desirable locations, such as plots near the Detroit River and Canada.

The strategic framework plan was created after a six-month programme of community meetings, workshops, tours and interviews. It recently added an extra eight acres of park space.

The Beltline, a new greenway, will directly connect inland neighbourhoods to the Detroit River, while the existing Joseph Campau Greenway will receive new lighting, paving, and landscaping.

Improvements will be made along Jefferson Avenue to reduce road accidents, improve walkability and beautify the corridor, which aim to boost local businesses and facilitate safer access to the waterfront.

One aim of the design is to keep much of the waterfront free from private development, and at the same time to spur private investment.

SOM worked with the City of Detroit and the Detroit RiverFront Conservancy on the scheme. The project team also included urban economic development specialists HR&A Advisers, landscape architects Michel Desvigne and Inessa Hansch and local firms McIntosh Poris, Giffels Webster, Kraemer Design Group, AKT Peerless, Rich & Associates, and E Austell Associates.

Images courtesy of SOM

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