Detroit Waterfront District


Open to everyone – the competition is looking for ideas to redesign the prominent location of the recently demolished basketball, hockey, boxing and entertainment venue overlooking the Detroit River and a symbol of the revitalization of one of the most iconic and controversial cities in history to deliver to the United States of America. ‘

Multifunctional proposals for the property in the city center must create a new skyline for the struggling city – which has large uninhabited areas and was declared a financial emergency in March 2013 – and includes 28,500 m² of living space, a hotel with 500 rooms and 25,000 m² of office space, an outdoor space with new pedestrian paths along the river and 15,000 m2 of additional leisure and commercial space.

The letter states: “The Detroit Waterfront District is focused precisely on the most intriguing canvas of all: the urban void overlooking the river amidst the downtown skyscrapers. Detroit Waterfront District is a competition sponsored by Manni Group in partnership with Sterling Group to design a future leisure and entertainment center for the city of Detroit.

“Architects will look at the area where the Joe Luis Arena stood next to where – as is tradition – Detroit’s founding fathers landed. Participants will have the opportunity to design a complex of buildings to redefine the city’s skyline. You will produce great masterpieces of architecture to become the symbol of the revival of one of the most famous and controversial cities in the history of the United States of America. ‘

Detroit is the largest city in the state of Michigan with a population of more than 670,000. The city was a major industrial hub in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, but suffered from urban decay after the collapse of local industries and the 60 percent population decline since the 1950s.

The competition is centered on the 3.6-acre site of the former Joe Louis Arena, which used to house the Detroit Red Wings ice hockey team, but which was demolished last year. In November, the City of Detroit approved a redevelopment agreement for the waterfront property with local developer Sterling Group, who supports the competition.

The concepts submitted for the location are expected to improve the riverside skyline and create a new “image of the Detroit of the future”. Proposals should include innovative residential and office towers, as well as a hotel for a nearby convention center, retail and leisure facilities, and public areas. All buildings may not be higher than 125 meters according to local building regulations.

The jury consists of 14 international architects, including Daniel Libeskind from Studio Libeskind, Marie Larsen from 3XN, Giulio Rigoni from Bjarke Ingels Group, Marcos Rosello from aLL Design and Jean Paul Uzabakiriho from Mass Design Group.

The overall winner, which will be announced on October 26th, will receive a prize of € 10,000 and a second prize of € 4,000, a third prize of € 2,000 and four gold mentions worth € 1,000 each. There will also be ten honorable mentions and 30 finalist mentions.

Registration closes on December 20th. Submissions must be completed by 12 noon (GMT) on December 23.

How do I apply?

Please visit the competition website for more information

Contact details

Email: [email protected]


Dusty Kennedy