Milliken State Park and Harbor
We are deeply committed to connecting urban residents to nature and natural environments within the city. This project used creative thinking to transform a barren, underutilized waterfront area into a downtown Detroit destination and the first urban state park in Michigan.
Michigan Department of Natural Resources
Civil Engineering, Community & Regional Parks, Landscape Architecture, Marinas & Harbors, Parks & Open Spaces, Parks & Promenades, Urban Design, Urban Environments, Urban Parks & Public Spaces, Urban Planning, Waterfront
There is a direct correlation between quality of life and access to natural environments within urban areas. It offers a sense of peace, promotes a healthy lifestyle and affords recreational amenities that don’t always exist in a city environment.
For decades, Detroit’s riverfront was a former industrial powerhouse turned abandoned brownfield site that prevented public access to the Detroit River. In concert with the SmithGroup-designed Detroit East RiverWalk, William G. Milliken State Park and Harbor has written the next chapter in downtown Detroit’s riverfront legacy. Collaborating with the Department of Natural Resources (DNR), we created a plan for Michigan’s first ever urban state park, offering residents and visitors a green oasis in the heart of downtown.
The park’s concept is all about re-engaging the community with the river and natural environment. With engagement comes education. We wanted all visitors to have the opportunity not only to experience the park, but to learn and understand the significance of it. Beyond interpretive displays, the park encourages immersion into the natural landscapes, whether you are catching tadpoles, observing migratory birds or learning about stormwater treatment.
Home to a wide variety of experience and amenities, Milliken boasts a 52-slip marina, open park space with picnic pavilions, pathways, interpretive shelters, shoreline fishing, and biking trails. The wetland stormwater demonstration component captures previously untreated runoff from adjacent private properties and improves water quality and flood control capacity through open water, emergent and braided channel wetlands that replicate pre-settlement habitat types. The wetland provides increased wildlife habitats while reducing the peak loads on the city’s combined sewer system.
Detroit is quickly and effectively transforming its undeveloped and post-industrial areas into spaces where its residents can explore, engage, learn, and play. From the RiverWalk to the Dequindre Cut to Milliken State Park and Harbor the riverfront offers residents and visitors to experience both the manmade and natural environments.