“Champions of Waterfront Excellence”
Waterfronts, the elemental
edges where land and water meet, are special places.
They represent at once a boundary between and a joining of resources, of
differing natural processes, of aquatic and terrestrial life, and of the unique
forms of human activity and settlement that reflect our yearning to be near that
edge. They are the places where one
environment provides access to the other, where the diversity of life is at its
richest and yet most vulnerable, and where there is fierce competition over
traditionally harbored unique forms of commerce that depended upon a waterfront
location for their existence. Most of the world’s largest cities, and many
smaller cities and towns, were established on water bodies.
Today, we are living in a time when that relationship has evolved,
creating serious economic shifts, but also excellent opportunities for new
waterfront visions. Shipping has changed dramatically around the world, many
industrial and maritime uses dependent on waterfront locations have disappeared,
and large areas of waterfront land, particularly in port cities, have opened up.
Today, waterfront areas present great opportunities for transformation
into imaginative arrangements of new uses, such as commerce, cultural
facilities, public open spaces, and housing. At the same time, traditional port
facilities have been consolidated, while new forms of maritime uses are
emerging. With improved post-industrial water quality, waterfronts are also
providing primary sources of human recreation including parks, boating, fishing,
surfing and swimming. Waterfronts serve as magnets to release our passions to
work and play near the water, and our desire to quietly contemplate the wonders
they offer to the human spirit.
For communities and areas
fortunate enough to be on a waterfront, it is often the unifying element that
defines them and serves as the source of their beginnings, their heritage, and
the reason for their existence. They can also anticipate futures that sustain
their culture, economy and quality of life while drawing on such an important
and precious resource in new ways.
protecting and preserving our waterfronts, and recognizing those who work to
make that possible, represents the primary purpose of The
These principles are neither a
sequence of steps nor a priority listing of the values that must be taken into
account in redeveloping a waterfront. Rather,
they are intended to be embraced as a comprehensive whole and to be adapted to
the unique attributes and essence of each waterfront.
Each community must be true to itself and it is in this spirit that these
principles are put forward, to be adapted as needed and appropriate.
principles have been derived from the Waterfront Manifesto developed by The
Waterfront Center with the help of the 1999 Excellence on the Waterfront jury.
That document represented the first statement of waterfront values
anywhere and it has been followed or replicated frequently since. With this new
statement of vision and values that manifesto has been amplified and enhanced.
Inspiring pride, identity, and economic development on our urban
waterfronts: Our urban
waterfronts are the most dynamic of resources with tremendous potential for
economic development with a mix of uses, such as recreational, cultural,
commercial, residential, and industrial. Realizing
that potential in ways that capture the essence and identity of each waterfront
is what we strive to achieve.
Achieving originality and authenticity:
We believe that the planning of our waterfront areas should embrace the
unique, authentic attributes of each waterfront: its own history, culture, use,
visual character, and environmental qualities. Formulaic approaches and trends
should be avoided. Each waterfront plan should capture the essence of its
Telling the stories that connect people
to place: We
believe in creating waterfronts that harmonize with the history and culture of
each community, respect natural qualities, express those attributes and tell
those stories in their design, and embrace the public enjoyment of these special
Providing for education, public art and interpretation: We believe that education is a key to helping people protect their waterfront resources. Waterfronts are great places to express the natural values, history and culture of communities that contain them. They provide unparalleled opportunities for interpretation and education as well as inspiration with public art installations that celebrate the relationship between water and land in fresh, original and imaginative ways.
Protecting the public interest on our
We stand for advancing the most beneficial and respectful uses of the
resources that our waterfronts provide us and, in doing so, protecting the long
range public interest.
Maximizing public access and use:
believe that public access to, from, and along urban waterfronts means direct
physical as well as visual access to the water and along the water’s edge.
Where public access might interfere with natural processes, navigation, or
public safety, innovative solutions should be explored.
Providing public access from land to water and from water to land should
be a guiding objective of any waterfront planning and design effort.
Embracing a holistic process: We believe in shaping achievable visions for our waterfronts by crafting an interdisciplinary and comprehensive approach adapted uniquely to each waterfront and the needs of its community. At a minimum, the process should reflect the dynamism of the marketplace and economic feasibility, design approaches and community input that are indigenous to their locations, environmental conservation and sustainability, historic preservation and design excellence, and the provision of public access and uses.
Ensuring meaningful community involvement: In crafting visions for improving our waterfronts, it is imperative to engage and intimately involve the communities that they serve, particularly those who live, work and play along them. In implementing those visions, meaningful community participation should continue in all aspects of the project’s development.
Ensuring the protection and respect of our natural waterfronts:
Our natural waterfronts must be honored and preserved in ways that
recognize the scarcity of their resources and their potential sensitivity to
Remembering that waterfronts are part of
must be mindful that every waterfront is an integral part of an interconnected
watershed, including its upland areas, creeks, rivers, estuaries, beaches,
shorelines, and bays. We also know that watersheds are being increasingly
stressed by climate change. The function and balance of the watershed must
provide the context for developing any particular waterfront plan.
Preserving and restoring water quality: The
environmental sustainability of waterfronts relies upon the quality of their
water resources. We stand for preserving environments with high water quality,
and restoring those that have been damaged in the past.
Remaining Responsive to Change: The proper planning and improvement of our waterfronts should be responsive, responsible and adaptable to changes in the economy, the environment, and the laws governing their use, while also respecting the timelessness of each waterfront installation.
Generating sustainable economic development: Waterfront redevelopment has the potential to contribute to the long-term economic well-being of its surrounding neighborhoods and larger urban area. We believe in ensuring the economic, social and cultural stability of waterfront areas by integrating high-quality new development with adjacent communities, providing employment to both current and new residents or workers, and including new cultural and community facilities.
Laying a foundation for the future: Short-sighted actions can cause permanent damage to resources as precious as our waterfronts. Already waterfronts are struggling with the impacts of climate change such as rising sea levels and more frequent, intense storms. Planning ahead for 25 or more years is a reasonable goal. We stand for taking the long view in developing our waterfronts, and laying a solid foundation for the future.
Possible future programs are indicated in italics.)
In advancing its vision and
values, The Waterfront Center undertakes the following activities to champion
− discuss current issues of
the day as they affect the waterfronts of the world,
− facilitate networking
between various waterfront organizations, municipal officials and
professionals involved in the planning, design, and management of
− attract other
organizations, individuals, and entities with an interest in improving their own
speakers engaged in waterfronts are invited to present their projects and how
they achieve the Center’s vision, provide up-to-date information, and share
nitty-gritty lessons learned from the project’s planning, design, community
engagement, financing, and implementation. Conference attendees are invited to
be active participants in these discussions and to dialogue with the speakers
and other colleagues.
− give the host city the
opportunity to present its history and the evolution of its waterfront
− visit and tour key
− introduce local
professionals, community representatives and public agencies involved to The
Waterfront Center’s activities and members, and
− discuss their hands-on
experience in planning and designing their waterfronts.
Library of Waterfront Images
Participation in Other Conferences and Organizations
Waterfront Center will collaborate and remain active in the field by sending
speakers to other conferences and organizations that touch upon waterfront
issues, including such organizations as the Urban Land Institute, the American
Planning Association, the American Society of Landscape Architects, the Coasts,
Oceans, Ports and Rivers Institute, and other such venues. This participation
will not only spread the message of The
a fee, The
the 1990’s the co-directors of the
Related Publications (examples)
Awards Compilation. An illustrated compilation of award winning projects and
plans since 1987 from “Excellence on the Waterfront.”
This publication could be available through the Center’s web site.
An abbreviated hard copy version, The Artful Waterfront (working title), is
another possibility. This publication would celebrate how creative expression
found on waterfronts around the world that interpret natural values, the history
and culture of cities and towns, or simply make them more beautiful places.
website could become the source of information on waterfronts and the
clearinghouse for contacts and links. The photo library could be available via
the website. It could also be used
for outreach to new members, networking among current members, and links to
Public Speaking / Speakers’ Bureau /
Clearinghouse / Networking (digital)
on the Waterfront” Awards Program
Waterfront Center sponsors an annual “Excellence on the Waterfront” Awards
Program to recognize built projects, comprehensive plans, grassroots citizen
efforts and student work that represent the best national and international
efforts at furthering excellence on the waterfront that best capture The
Waterfront Center’s vision and values. The
awards, reviewed by an interdisciplinary jury of international experts, are
presented and announced at the annual Waterfront Center Conference.
on the Waterfront” Awards Publication
year, an awards publication is created that showcases the winners of the
“Excellence on the Waterfront” awards program. This serves as a reference
for each project and its awardees. The report is available for purchase at the
conference following the award announcements and by contacting the Center.
ceremonies currently take place at the annual conference: a water ceremony and a
gala awards dinner. The water ceremony has become a tradition at the opening of
the conference. Individuals who have been asked to bring a small bottle of water
from the rivers, lakes or bays that touch their cities pour that water into a
common bowl to symbolize the waterfront community’s collective commitment to
the health of the world’s waters as well as to sound waterfront planning and
development practice. The gala
dinner takes place after the presentation of the awards as a way to honor the
“Excellence on the Waterfront” winners. It is a festive occasion that brings
together the worldwide waterfront community.
offer occasions to celebrate past achievements and reflect on the future of
waterfronts. The Center is proud to participate in celebrating many of these
important milestones in improving and promoting excellence of our waterfronts.