Project Detail


The WELL - Detroit Riverfront Competition

detroit, MI United States

progressive | ae


Project Description

The Well . Urban Vitality

The first settlers stopped along the river for the basic needs of their time: Protection (one cannon shot would reach the opposing bank); Food (Fertile soil for farming); and Commerce (Fur trapping and trading). The river, being vital to the growth and development of Detroit, ultimately fueled the industrialization of the “Motor City”. Our thesis: The Detroit River is the gateway to Detroit’s sustainable health, providing the framework for future leadership in water research and conservation, and fueling prosperity. The River is the well that will bring vital social commitment and sustainable energy to the city; providing Fuel | Food | Filter—ultimately giving the water back to the people.

We asked What if…

The river’s edge was given back for public growth and environmental leadership? Promote water conservancy and health.

Urban storm water infrastructure enhanced ecological functioning and served as a civic asset rather than an environmental liability? Metabolize pollutants on site.

The river’s edge was revolutionized and had the ability to provide enough energy to power the city? Educate the community and its leaders.

In concept this development will become the international center for learning, research, and recreation along the waterfront. It will be utilized by the school systems, universities, industries, and the community. We eroded the water’s edge to create organic fingers into the water, and incorporated a “green lawn” biomorphic amphitheater that wraps the tunnel entry and port authority complex. Concrete has just one purpose, ignoring the multiplicity of other purposes served by the landscape it replaced.

As water flows through newly created channels it is naturally filtered through a series of land masses.

Fuel: The first finger will provide slow hydro turbines to create electricity for the development. The water will also provide nutrients for growing plants to be processed into fuel (corn, switch grass, algae, etc.).

Food: As the water travels into the second finger it supports the growth of climate centric food. The product will be used for local families and restaurants. Research will be on sustainable growth, irrigation and infiltration of water.

Filter: Ultimately the water finds the third finger. This location provides world class research on fresh water conservancy and treatment. The water will flow into public pools and provide social zones to engage with pure water. It will flow into technical and biological systems, seeking new ways to purify water sustainably.

Detroit was recognized as an industrial leader: The Well will catapult Detroit to the forefront of research in Fuel, Food, and Filtering of water


Project Details

The WELL - Detroit Riverfront Competition
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Project Team:
    Bryan Koehn, Thom Danckaert, Robert Ferguson, Nate Meade, Dave Trost, Dan Tyrer, Jamie Wansten
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