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Adjaye on winning team for Detroit riverfront competition

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David Adjaye has been named as part of the winning design team for a $50-million (£35 million) transformation of Detroit’s riverfront

The Detroit RiverFront Conservancy has chosen Adjaye Associates as part of a team led by New York-based practice Michael Van Valkenburgh (MVVA) to turn the US city’s 9ha west riverfront into a ‘world-class gathering place’ following an international competition.

The creation of a new beach carved into the waterfront is the centerpiece of an ambitious early plan, which will involve a series of Adjaye-designed structures such as pavilions and sports facilities.

The proposals also include a playground with giant animal sculptures, a concert venue, and a sports house for recreational and educational activities.  

Last year, four selected finalists publicly presented a range of imaginative proposals for overhauling the waterfront, from boat launches to ice-skating rinks. This followed a long community-led design process.

Also shortlisted in the competition were Kathryn Gustafson’s Seattle practice Gustafson Guthrie Nichol, California-based Hood Design Studio, and New York firm James Corner Field Operations.

MVAA president Michael Van Valkenburgh said: ‘It was love at first sight when I saw the Detroit River. I immediately recognised that this new park could draw the city to the water’s edge. My team and I spent a lot of time exploring Detroit and meeting many Detroiters in the process. We’re looking forward to making West Riverfront Park an amazing place.’

The Detroit RiverFront Conservancy organised the West Riverfront Park design contest in a bid to improve the city’s connection to its river and waterfront. 

The west park is part of the conservancy’s vision for a 5.5 mile stretch of revitalised riverfront from ‘bridge to bridge’, meaning the MacArthur Bridge on the east and the Ambassador Bridge to Canada on the west.

MVVA and Adjaye’s team also includes Utile, Mobility in Chain, Emmanuel Pratt, and local partners LimnoTech, PEA and NTH Consultants.

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