The CityDeck, designed by STOSS, is the heart of a multi-phase redevelopment project along Green Bay’s Fox Riverfront, a small city in the Upper MidWest of the United States. The site is a 2-acre strip of land measuring 50 to 60 feet wide, running along the edge of the Fox River in downtown Green Bay. It is about one-quarter-mile in length and situated between two bridges that cross the river. At the project’s start, the surrounding area generally turned its back on the river. Adjacent parcels were empty or in use as parking lots; nearby downtown parcels were also empty or only utilized during business hours. Unsurprisingly, there was little social or civic life here, and little reason to visit; the elevated walk along existing river bulkhead walls prevented any direct access down to the river—or up to the city from recreational boats.
The goal of the project was to activate the riverfront, connect the city to the river, increase opportunities for social life, create a flexible space for civic gatherings, and frame opportunities for new mixed-use development that would infuse downtown with new life, 24/7.
The CityDeck starts as a simple boardwalk deployed at the edge of city and river. While simple at first, the wooden boardwalk undulates, folding in response to (or in anticipation of) technical, code, and programmatic issues. At the scale of the human body, these folds create diverse seats, benches, and chaise lounges that allow for choice and flexibility: some are close to the water, others are further back but overlooking it; some are clustered and assembled in long rows, while others are a bit more solitary. Collectively they give people many choices about where to sit, depending on their own desires, their body type, their mood, and their attraction to various ambient light, heat, or weather conditions.
At the city edge, the surface folds again, affording adjacent buildings required protection from flooding and creating retail and dining terraces that overlook the main spaces. A flexible upland plaza floats atop fill between the perched terraces and the undulating boardwalk, creating a free-zone to be inhabited by festivals, vendors, and spontaneous activity; it doubles as an informal amphitheater for performances and is marked at its southern end by an interactive play fountain.
The design inventively integrates sustainable stormwater, material, and lighting strategies; it reorients downtown to the riverfront; it frames opportunities for new development; and it creates an entirely new image for the City of Green Bay.
Project planning and design involved intense public and stakeholder participation, as well as extensive coordination with local, county, state, and federal agencies.