The Rehabilitation of Detroit’s Waterfront

The Rehabilitation of Detroit’s Waterfront is set to get a makeover as the city works to re-establish itself and return itself to the days when people lived, worked and enjoyed the city. Twenty-two acres of prime riverfront in Detroit will soon become its new front yard so to speak as revitalization gets underway. The riverfront spans 5.5 miles and is in the eastern part of the city.

Currently, over 3 miles of the new Riverwalk has been completed and along it features spaces for events such as entertainment, cultural locations, hotels and parks as well as sculpture gardens. The areas is located in the more stable areas of the city, however, prior to the revitalization project, the park was barren with little offered. It’s previously housed a large warehouse owned by the Detroit Free Press that was torn down after being purchased by the Conservancy in 2014, who then installed a temporary park.

The Revitalization Project

The process towards this areas revitalization has been a community affair with both local and professional input being critical to the process. The conservancy accessed the expertise of area residents to help with its design and the spaces they would like to see. Many of those providing input traveled to other city waterfronts to see what become of the space with trips to Chicago, New York, Boston and others. Once all information was collected, and input received, the design process began.

The plan is to include a variety of pavilions along the waterfront to accommodate various social activities such as those for children and seniors. The goal is to create an urban environment that is considered cutting-edge and becomes a draw to the city to generate interest for companies to open businesses and people to choose Detroit as their home city. The pavilions will include pools for swimming lessons and playgrounds so as to create a multi-generational space that all can enjoy and be proud of.

Park to Include Pier for Fishing, Hiking Trails and Beach


The master plan will include a fishing pier, not a common inclusion in most urban planning initiatives. Also expected is a large 3-acre playground that will provide space by the beach for sports and other activities. The fishing pier will face out onto the river, and its topography will have dunelike areas that act as a floating stage of sorts.

The plan is being dubbed “Seedling Park” as the city works to clean up its tarnished images as an unsafe city littered with abandoned houses and high crime rates. The park will be completed in three stages, the first of those will include the creation of large green plant walls that will be used to help educate the public on the importance of living green in an urban area. The other remaining stages will focus on the construction of the planned inclusions and buildings as well as the pier and playground. It also will see the addition of an amphitheater as well as pedestrian paths that connect to various areas of the city.

The Role Landscape Designers Will Have in Cities of the Future

The art of spending time outdoors, for most people, is one aspect of life that brings happiness and pleasure in what seems to have become a world where people spend more time indoors than out. The ability to spend that time outside in well-designed spaces is what makes like in a city more enjoyable. Knowing that, it is somewhat difficult to understand why so many cities fail to make the investment and understand the role landscape designers will have in cities of the future, let alone to properly design outdoor spaces as it impacts the quality of life of those that live there, let alone a city’s ability to attract new business and talent.

As most of us appreciate the time we spend outside, it is interesting to speak with people on their feelings about the outdoor spaces they enjoy most, what aspects about them they find attractive and what draws them to those spaces. For many, outdoor spaces in cities remind them of childhood memories that often are focused on outdoor activities with friends or family.

Outdoor Spaces Increase Quality of Life

Studies have shown that those that invest a greater amount of time outdoors are happier and tend to be healthier as well. The combination of the two has proven to increase lifespans, and those urban areas that feature quality outdoor spaces tend to reap the rewards tenfold in multiple ways. This includes reduced healthcare costs, increased economic output, economic growth and an overall happier population.

History has shown, those cities that fail to get this right and not have an adequate amount of well-designed outdoor space lack the ability to attract younger people to move to their cities. When you consider the cost to design and build these spaces, the minimal investment is returned for generations to come. Studies have shown it not only attracts the young but also attracts urban professionals and those entering their golden years as well who choose to move back to urban areas so as to be closer to health care facilities.

Outdated Trends Hard to Change

It seems the trend to put more thought into indoor spaces, and building designs remains firmly intact, however, what is clear is that the role designers will play in the future towards outdoor space will define a city in more ways than one. It is not uncommon when looking at waterfront cities to hear complaints about its deterioration, and subsequent investment to improve the value water front areas bring to a city. Those cities, such as Chicago that have chosen to make a concentrated effort to revitalise their waterfronts have found an increase in pedestrian traffic in those areas. That investment has allowed them to attract tourism traffic, which collectively benefits the local economy and health of its citizens as they spend more time engaging in walking, sports breathing fresh air.

What is clear is that the need to invest in outdoor spaces will be the determining factor in an ever populated world, one that has over 70% living in cities around the world. Those that design innovative parks, walkways and bike trails will be those that benefit in the future and the role of the outdoor designer will only play a larger importance as new technologies are integrated into public spaces and are combined with the qualities that are unique to our environment.

How To Construct a Maze – The Puzzle of Champions

From the hedge maze to modern day eco-houses, landscaping architecture has always combined human construction with botany and nature. A timeless art form, landscaping architecture has wowed people since it was first conceived, and it is this fascination with the creative artworks by landscape architects in thier efforts on how to construct a maze and their ability to create something profoundly beautiful and in many cases, useful – that we’re looking at in closer detail. It is time for us to take a look at a classic form of landscaping architecture, one which most of us enjoyed as children – the hedge maze.

The Early Hedge Maze

Hedge mazes also go by the names garden mazes or labyrinths, and they first appeared in Europe in the fifteenth century, created by Italian artists during the Renaissance. Of course, the earlier hedge mazes scarcely seem impressive compared to the goliaths that can be found today.

The very first hedge mazes began as sketches, some dating back to 1460. Over the course of the sixteenth to eighteenth centuries, the concept became a reality, and new techniques were devised to make them ever more intricate, ever more challenging and, of course, ever more beautiful.

Today, we think of hedge mazes as a puzzle, one which children, in particular, enjoy. That wasn’t their initial intention. In fact, early hedge mazes weren’t really mazed at all, but simple walkways surrounding by greenery. It wasn’t until the end of the Stuart Era that Britain got its very first hedge labyrinths and mazes. By the late seventeenth century, King William III (William of Orange) had one constructed at Hampton Court, which, although it could not rival the luxurious Labyrinth de Versailles (subsequently destroyed in 1778), brought the concept of dead ends and trick passageways to British hedge maze and landscaping architecture.

Over the years, the objective was no longer to design hedge mazes which were just beautiful or ornate, but also those which genuinely confuddling audiences. Bridges, grid-less designs, and false passageways all upped the ante for landscaping architects to design ever more radical and challenging hedge mazes.

A Child’s Dream: Modern Hedge Mazes

Today, hedge mazes are seen as children’s playthings. It is true that many national parks contain hedge mazes, and adults are still known to walk through their green roofless hallways, many of which contain exotic plants and shrubbery. However, it is children that find them the most fascinating. The desire to make ever more complex hedge mazes has also continued.

Today, one of the biggest hedge mazes in the world is located in Castlewellan in Northern Ireland. Known as the Peace Maze, this stunning piece of landscaping architecture was first planted in 2000 and was designed as a pathway to peace for Northern Ireland. A peace bell stands in the centre for anybody bold enough to finish the maze. Other notable hedge mazes include those at Disneyland Paris, Blenheim Palace, Hampton Court (William III’s original), Longleat, Schönbrunn Palace, and Colonial Williamsburg.

While modern landscaping architecture may be about eco, solar, and nature-friendly constructions such as the much-loved Hobbit-style homes. It is important not to forget that in another time, and by very different people, hedge mazes were not only the first step in landscaping architecture but also a dream where man showcased that he could, in fact, build alongside nature instead of in place of it.