Envisioning the Future of Belle Isle’s Conservatory Area Grounds

Horse Stable rendering for Belle Isle Park in DetroitLandscape Architecture and Environmental Design students from SPDC (ranging from undergrads through PhDs) participated in the DETxMSU Summer of Hustle 2016 program from May 30-June 25, 2016.

Students sitting in a park at Belle Isle sketching idease for their Student Parks Project





The Michigan Department of Natural Resources manages the Belle Isle property and is ready to move forward to evolve programming and site design for a sustainable park. The students worked for the MDNR and Belle Isle, as part of the Student Parks Project, and envisioned a cultural area (known as the Cultural Campus) at the park to meet their aesthetic, functional and environmental needs. This course was co-taught by Rob Dalton, PhD, Landscape Architecture assistant professor; and Pat Crawford, SPDC’s associate director and Landscape Architecture associate professor.

Belle Isle Park Rectalinear Site Plan DesignSite entities for this project included:

  • The Jerome H. Remick Band Shell.
  • Nancy Brown Peace Carillon.
  • Formal Garden, including the Levi Barbour Fountain.
  • The Anna Scripps Conservatory and Aquarium, including a koi pond and two service drives.
  • Horse Stables.
  • The White House.
  • Waterways, including Lake Tacoma and Nashua Canal (western edge).

Belle Isle Park Curvillinear Site Plan DesignBelle Isle Park Organic Site Plan Design














Each piece within Belle Isle is a landmark on its own. In each design schematics, the landmarks each have their own important use, and their own types of people to gather. As the MDNR moves forward to engage the residents of Metro Detroit, it is important to engage all of the City’s ethnicities and religions.

Pat Crawford discusses ideas for Belle Isle Project with SPDC students

The team brainstormed ideas based on how each schematic would make the visitor feel, how visitors would engage with the site through programming, and what makes this piece unique from the rest of the island. Three sets of site plans were developed by the students showcasing their various themed ideas, including sketches.

Rendering of waterfront area at Belle Isle Park in Detroit showing a kayak near the shore

Rendering of the entry to The White House at Belle Isle Park in DetroitRendering of a new garden for Belle Isle park in Detroit.