Revitalization of a popular waterfront park in Downtown Denver
Confluence Park, named for its location at the confluence of the South Platte River and Cherry Creek, marks the birthplace of Denver and is a place where people have been drawn to congregate for centuries. Built in the 1970s, Confluence Park was one of the nation’s first riverfront restoration projects and urban whitewater courses. Over the years, new urban neighborhoods, destination retail, and regional entertainment and sports venues caused a dramatic increase in the park’s use and popularity, and prompted the City to embark on revitalizing the beloved space for the 21st Century.
Wenk Associates was commissioned by the City to develop a master plan which envisioned the park’s transformation into a new urban park and gathering place. The plan greatly expanded opportunities to access the river’s edge, recommended additional recreational uses and leisure opportunities, and improved pedestrian and bicycle circulation and access.
The first phase of implementing the master plan vision was the reconstruction of the historically significant Shoemaker Plaza. The 40-year-old plaza showed signs of its age and required renovation to repair failing structures and meet modern ADA and regional trail standards. Reconstruction provided the opportunity to widen the heavily used South Platte River Trail, improve bike and pedestrian flow, and enhance access to the river while expanding on the spirit of the original plaza and creating a vibrant, new, public gathering space for Downtown Denver. The redesign embraces the river by opening up views from a street-level promenade and providing multi-functional terraces oriented to the river. A variety of outdoor rooms function for both festivals and day-to-day leisure activities, transforming the riverfront. Today, Shoemaker Plaza is a popular Denver destination where visitors and residents can find a unique combination of people, nature, and history, and can experience the great outdoors right downtown.
See video from the Denver Downtown Partnership 2017 Downtown Denver Awards.