Three Trends in Waterfront Revitalization Projects
For several decades, there’s been a renaissance of urban waterfronts. City planners and investors have viewed waterfront revitalizations as an opportunity to beautify the city, create commerce, and draw in tourists and residents alike.
Today, that movement is still going strong, but the underlying efforts have evolved with a modern ethos and construction philosophy. To that end, here are three major waterfront revitalization trends that can be seen across the country.
#1 Going Beyond the Carnival
In the ’80s and ’90s, waterfront revitalization was largely focused on creating a carnival-type atmosphere that would draw in foot traffic and spur economic activity. This notion has evolved to become something more—to serve more than a singular purpose.
Today, the underlying objectives of such projects are more “culturally and entrepreneurial-focused.” The goal is to transform them into places where people want to live, work, and play. The design and planning of the project must then account for the economic, social, and cultural ramifications. This also means focusing on visual aesthetics that take full advantage of the waterfront as well as plenty of physical public access to both land and water.
#2 Incorporating the City’s History
Modernization is a good thing. Giving decrepit, outdated, or failing infrastructure a much-needed facelift is an important aspect of waterfront revitalization. But not at the expense of erasing the history of an area.
City planners and designers are now placing a greater emphasis on reusing or repurposing historic buildings, rather than simply demolishing them. The identity and character of the local community must be preserved. In this way, waterfronts are paying tribute to the past while paving the way for a vibrant future. According to NAK Design Strategies:
“Waterfront destinations need to offer diverse, layered activities and programming that go beyond just creating economic activity along the shore. They increasingly host cultural venues and events to create a feeling of community among residents and their historic value has been capitalized on to attract visitors and tourists.”
One of the biggest draws of these types of areas is the water itself. Whether it’s an ocean, lake, or river, preserving and enhancing the natural aspect of the locale should be paramount. Both the water itself and the ecological systems it houses need to be considered.
Water is a natural asset that’s both limited and non-renewable. For urban designers, modern planning involves a diverse use of the waterfront, but not at its expense. Similarly, the incorporation of public space—parks, squares, promenades, and green areas—encourages people to gather and enjoy the area.
Waterfront Engineering and Design with MFS
The way that designers, engineers, and construction professionals handle waterfront revitalization projects has matured over time. By planning for the long-term, it’s possible to create a space that welcomes a diverse group of residents and tourists for a variety of activities, celebrates the city’s heritage and preserves the area’s natural splendor.
At MFS Engineers, we’ve been involved with various waterfront projects over the years, providing design and construction management expertise. Our foremost goal is to always create a space that upholds these trends while transforming it into an unforgettable destination.
Do you have a waterfront revitalization project in the works? Contact us today to see what a partnership would look like!