Riverfront Resource Guide #3

Design and Construction


What’s the vision for your project?

Planning for a riverfront requires a cohesive vision for the design of riverfront amenities such as plazas, trails, boardwalks, shelters, playgrounds, and performance spaces. A design vision will set the groundwork for community engagement, cost estimates, and construction schedules.

In a project’s early stages, design vision can come from community members and volunteers. As a project progresses toward construction, it is necessary to engage design and construction professionals to ensure the feasibility and legality of a project.

If you are working on public land (owned by city, county, or state), keep in mind that vendors for design and construction will need to be selected through an open, public process. Refer to your local procurement requirements.

Follow these steps to start the design and construction of your riverfront project: (click to expand)

• Convene a small group of community members and volunteers to brainstorm riverfront ideas and to gather feedback. Review any existing planning documents to ensure the project aligns with existing goals and initiatives.

• Review Riverlife’s Riverfront Resource Guide #1, Partnership Building and Riverfront Resource Guide #2, Fundraising to develop your project understanding, identify stakeholders and understand financial resource opportunities.

• If working on public land, follow the local procurement requirements to issue an Request for Proposals (RFP) to landscape architects or civil engineers. If working on private land, consult a landscape architect or civil engineer.

• Hire a landscape architect or civil engineer to develop a concept design, cost estimate, and construction documents.

• If working on public land, follow the local procurement requirements to advertise a bid to contractors and hire a contractor to construct the project.

• Once complete, plan a ribbon cutting event and enjoy!

Riverfront Principles to Follow: (Click to expand)

• Design and construct riverfront projects with high-quality materials to ensure longevity.

• Connect adjacent neighborhoods to the riverfronts by limiting physical and/or visual obstacles to and from the river. Maintain clear sight-lines.

• Ensure accessible groundfloor connections to the riverfront and prominent riverfront entrances within buildings.

• Integrate environmental sustainability into the design, operation, and maintenance of riverfront projects.

• Support healthy environments along the rivers by repairing and enhancing the natural environment, managing stormwater on-site, and incorporating measures to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and lessen air pollution.

• Activate riverfronts for the use and enjoyment of the public with programming and public amenities (ie: trails, open spaces, walkways, kayak launches, water taxi docks, benches, lighting, bike racks, bike repair stations, bike share stations, public art, water fountains, dog runs, phone charging stations, etc.).

• Promote the use and enjoyment of the ground floor of riverfront properties by providing facilities of public accommodation (for example: cafes, restaurants, retail spaces) as well as provide ground floor public amenities (for example: bike storage, kayak storage, public restrooms, lobby seating).

• Incorporate wayfinding signage for public access to the riverfront.

• Multi-use trails should be designed to be 10 ft-14 ft wide. The minimum paved width should be 10 ft. Wider paved widths, 11 ft to 14 ft, are recommended in locations that anticipate high pedestrian and bicyclist traffic.

Useful riverfront design resources

Additional riverfront guidelines, master plans and recommendations can be found in our Resources section.