Con Foster Forum

Civic Planning — Traverse City, Michigan

This six-acre waterfront park recaptures what was once a hallmark of America’s courtyards, parks, and plazas: the formality and symbolism of traditional civic design.

At the junction of this quaint, popular Michigan city’s downtown and marina lies this site, formerly a zoo. Using hardscaping and landscaping to create definition, a series of segmented plazas link to the beach via a grand esplanade. An extended playing field doubles as a gathering green to serve the city’s identity as a host of many events, including the National Cherry Festival and Traverse City Film Festival.

Star patterns in the paving depict Ursa Major and Ursa Minor, eternal bears in the nighttime sky which call to mind the famous Sleeping Bear Dunes nearby. These and other monuments function as high public art, celebrating the spirit and heritage of Traverse City.