Riverfront Fort Wayne

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Public Investment in connecting to the riverfront serves as a catalyst for new private developments.

Native American and European settlers strategically created settlements and fortified camps at the confluence of three rivers that eventually evolved into the modern city of Fort Wayne. Civic leaders recognized the value in providing the public with riverfront attractions that combined existing cultural and entertainment attractions to strengthen the downtown as a regional destination.

Following the creation of a conceptual master plan, Lamar Johnson Collaborative was selected to provide detailed design documents for Phase 1 of the riverfront improvements. Designed improvements increased recreational use of the river, dining and entertainment venues, programmed events and ecological restoration. The Phase 1 area includes an urban plaza and waterfront promenade creating a dynamic new destination for entertainment that is linked to the CBD, Headwaters Park, surrounding venues, neighborhoods and the extensive River Greenway Trails.

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“Our design for the Riverfront Fort Wayne Promenade Park was comporsed of implementable and affordable ideas that unified the client’s and the community’s desire to draw people back to the river, build pride in the community, create new reasons to come downtown, and to create an open space that would stimulate new opportunities and be a catalyst for development.” – Chip Crawford, Managing Director

Every detail was thought out and coordinated – from selecting each boulder used in the water rill, to tagging each tree for the designed landscape. The LJC team had the advantage of working with local partners to conduct frequent site visits and help coordinate the construction effort for the entire team. A soil specialist provided soil specifications and visited the site to ensure that soil was placed correctly. The soils ended up being changed for engineered soils and fiber turf reinforcement under lawn areas to help stabilize the soil, improve weight distribution, avoid compaction, and maintain airflow during times when the riverfront would have large crowds.

Credit: One Lucky Guitar

As with any project, the construction process included several challenges. One challenge was posed by an elevated deck that housed movable tables and chairs. Access to the deck was through a vanishing stair, ranging from a flush condition at one end, to an 18” high seat wall condition at the other. On the side facing a planting bed, the elevation exceeded 30” in height, so the team raised the soil, creating a ledge and removing the fall hazard. The parks district still had reservations about this and has since installed a railing on the elevated deck platform’s high side. Such issues and other discrepancies in construction drawings were resolved on-site during site visits in the construction process.

Hooray for Play

The children’s playground negotiates the grade change from the riverwalk to the canopy walk above, providing several climbing and sliding opportunities. This area was designed to receive high water levels during flood conditions.

Panoranmic Perspective

An elevated canopy walk on the north bank of the river allows visitors perched views during flooding and provides a panoramic perspective of downtown Fort Wayne, events on the river, and the abutting sunken playground with breathtaking views of Fort Wayne’s skyline day or night.


City of Fort Wayne


Fort Wayne, IN


6 Acres


  • Landscape Architecture


2022 – WLA Professional Award Honoree (Built Large)

2021 – ULI Global – Awards for Excellence Honoree 2021 – ULI Americas – Awards for Excellence

2021 – Architzer A+Awards – Landscape and Planning Public Park – Jury Winner

2020 – Fast Company’s Innovation by Design – Honorable Mention in Cities Category

2019 – ASLA IN – Award of Excellence (Built)

2019 – ASLA IL – Merit Award (Built)

2019 – ASLA Central States – Award of Excellence (Built)

2019 – ASLA St. Louis – Design and Constructed over $500K Merit Award

2016 – ASLA St. Louis – Master Plan – Planning, Research & Communications Merit Award