In her final year of graduate study at the University of Illinois, Anna Hochhalter (MLA 2013), received honorable mention in the Detroit by Design 2012: Detroit Riverfront Competition. Her project, “Cityworks Plaza and Port,” combines the concept of spectacle with economy to create a new working riverfront for the City of Detroit. Her project was chosen from among hundreds of designs submitted by professional firms and independent designers from around the world. The competition offered an exciting opportunity for Anna to use design to test the theories laid out in her thesis proposal - exploring the potential of the contemporary urban waterfront to structure meaningful public spectacle, and thus realize the transformative power of open space.
Anna began her thesis research with an exploration of contemporary design trends in urban waterfronts such as Chicago, New York, and New Orleans. Through her research, she observed that many of the contemporary practices in post-industrial waterfront design focused primarily on leisure and fell short on dealing with larger socio-economic issues within the city. Her design proposed a new model for the Detroit riverfront plaza, one that utilizes existing ecosystems to create a working space that places production on display. The project utilizes existing aquatic species of the Detroit River, such as the Sea Lamprey and Zebra Mussel, and turns these invasive species into economic opportunities for production and experimentation. Her design proposes “spectacular” distribution and production facilities that harvest and treat these two species, while encouraging public use of the riverfront through public-private partnerships. See Anna’s award-winning project here.
Prior to coming to the University of Illinois, Anna served as the Public Arts Director for the City of Urbana. She has gone on to win multiple awards for her work with the community and has continued to be involved in various creative events throughout the region. Throughout her time at the University of Illinois, she has continually demonstrated a unique perspective on the transformative potential of landscape architecture.