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Canyons in the City: Urban Redevelopment Master Plan for Ypsilanti, MI

Posted By on 13 April 2013 in analysis, landscape planning + design, models |

Canyons in the City: Urban Redevelopment Master Plan for Ypsilanti, MI

A 32 acre site sits vacant in the heart of the City of Ypsilanti, Michigan, waiting to be re-imagined and re-invested in. The City of Ypsilanti’s Planning Department approached landscape architects at the University of Michigan for assistance developing a Master Plan that would feed life back into this “Water Street” area.


Site Context + Analysis

SiteContextWater Street is primly located along the Huron River, which cuts through the City of Ypsilanti and provides recreational opportunities for residents. This location makes the site a key piece of a larger connected network of open and green space throughout the City. The site is also located along the main thoroughfare of Michigan Avenue (which connects to the larger City of Ann Arbor), and is situated like a stepping stone between the Historic Downtown and Depot Town–two currently thriving areas of the City.

With the right vision, Water Street could bring much needed vitality to Ypsilanti.



Water Street Master Plan

HandRenderedPlan_labelsThis plan was a collaborative design, developed by a team of four landscape architect students. Each designer initially developed an individual conceptual Master Plan for the site, then came together to select the most salient parts of each, and come to a consensus on how the future of Water Street should look and feel.


 Focal Area Plan


After the consensus Master Plan was generated, each individual designer selected a “focal area” to design in further detail. The “core” of the site caught my attention the most, as I saw it’s importance in creating a unique and memorable experience for people as they traverse from the northern streets of Ypsilanti, through the site, and down south to the Huron River. This Focal Plan was inspired, rather than restricted by, the site’s existing topographical change and the height and narrowness between the central focal features in the Redevelopment Master Plan.

As I constructed a model of the focal area,

I let my imagination run wild, and created an urban canyon in the City.

See the site’s snapshots below, created by digitally rendering the to-scale model…  


Snapshots of the Site

ElevatedGreenspacePlaza A network of clear pathways through the elevated greenspace serve as skylights, exposing and illuminating the parking submerged below, and also separate the private lot “front lawns” from the public thoroughfare. Pathways are illuminated at night, and can be seen from surrounding lofts and buildings.


Stormwaterfall_CanyonEntranceThe re-routed River Street corridor enters the site and terminates into this array of attractive features, encouraging people to continue south through the site’s “core canyon”, and out to the Huron River Border-to-Border Trail.


RecBldgA combination of boulders and bubbling fountain features, this water works zone attracts all ages to recreate, relax, and cool down outdoors.


StormwaterfallFeatureThe “stormwaterfall” feature, which flows off of the Rec Building roof in the core canyon area, beckons visitors to traverse the canyon via either the rim pathway (on top of the elevated parking) or the trail cut into the canyon. The sides of the elevated parking structure act like canyon walls, and become places for recreational bouldering and climbing.






ViewFromStudentAptsFrom the student apartments, views can be seen of the canyon climbing walls, the stormwaterfall, and the loft residences.






































Check out the entire [FOCAL ZONE DESIGN] in a print presentation format…