DETROIT, July 10, 2017 /PRNewswire/ -- A $345,000 grant from the Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation will be used by the Detroit RiverFront Conservancy to fund a design competition that will help transform West Riverfront Park into a world-class gathering place for Detroiters and visitors alike.
"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."
"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."
West Riverfront Park is a 22-acre site located between Rosa Parks Boulevard and Eighth Street along the Detroit Riverfront. For nearly 100 years, the site was privately owned and closed to the public until the Detroit RiverFront Conservancy purchased the property and opened the park in 2014. Since then, the park has become a popular destination for people to enjoy the outdoors and striking views of the Detroit and the Windsor skylines. The park has also been the site of several large-scale concerts.
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.
The Conservancy looks forward to receiving input from the general public in the firm submission and design process, much like it did in 2016 when it hosted a series of meetings designed to give people the opportunity to learn about and comment on the plans for the East Riverfront District.
"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."
The grant from the Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation is the latest in its "Healthy Communities" focus area that seeks to improve community access to public spaces, and connect those spaces geographically with other areas of funding.
In addition to the support received from the Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation for the design competition, riverfront planning is made possible by the Michigan Department of Transportation, the Fred A. and Barbara M. Erb Family Foundation, Fifth Third Bank, FORD/UAW, the City of Detroit, Hudson Webber Foundation, the Knight Foundation, the Kresge Foundation and the Detroit Metro Convention & Visitors Bureau.
About the Detroit RiverFront Conservancy
The Detroit RiverFront Conservancy is a non-profit organization founded in 2003 with the mission to develop public access to Detroit's riverfront and serve as an anchor for economic development. As the permanent stewards of the RiverWalk and the Dequindre Cut, the Conservancy is responsible for raising the funds needed for construction, operation, maintenance, security and programming of the public spaces located along the riverfront. The Conservancy's ultimate vision is to develop five-and-a-half miles of riverfront from the Ambassador Bridge on the west to Gabriel Richard Park, just east of the MacArthur Bridge to Belle Isle. Visit www.detroitriverfront.org for more information.
About the Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation
The Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation is a grantmaking organization dedicated primarily to sustained investment in the quality of life of the people of Southeast Michigan and Western New York. The two areas reflect Ralph C. Wilson, Jr.'s devotion to his hometown of Detroit and greater Buffalo, home of his Buffalo Bills franchise. Prior to his passing in 2014, Mr. Wilson requested that a significant share of his estate be used to continue a life-long generosity of spirit by funding the foundation that bears his name. The foundation has a grantmaking capacity of $1.2 billion over a 20-year period, which expires January 8, 2035. This structure is consistent with Mr. Wilson's desire for the foundation's impact to be immediate, substantial, measurable, and overseen by those who knew him best. For more information, visit www.rcwjrf.org.
SOURCE Detroit RiverFront Conservancy