$32.5 million project: Futurist canopy proposed for Windsor’s riverfront Festival Plaza

Windsor Mayor Drew Dilkens says the city is “dreaming big” when proposing a $32.5 million project to give the riverfront Festival Plaza a futuristic facelift.

A proposed design to build a canopy at the Festival Plaza will go before council on Oct. 4 for endorsement and approval to begin seeking public input.

“There is no other city like Windsor where you have this amazing waterfront completely open,” says Pooya Baktash, Co-founder of Partisans, a Toronto-based architecture studio firm hired by the city to design the canopy and transform the plaza.

The permanent canopy structure designed as a dome will have a capacity of 5,000. With a translucent roof in the centre, the space is created to feel open and bright, with a view of the Detroit River.

Baktash says “the layers of digital activation, lighting and multimedia” installed will help the canopy light up the skyline at night.

With an asphalt parking lot and no shade at the current Festival Plaza, one of the main concerns is that the space is too hot in the summer and too cold in the winter.

“We brought in environment engineers to map up the wind and sun,” says Baktash.

Click here for photos of the proposed project.

To address this issue, the canopy is designed to attenuate south-west winds in the colder season while allowing the south winds in the warmer months. This will help maintain a comfortable temperature for visitors.

Acoustics and noise studies have also been conducted to improve the quality of sound for the audience while blocking out the outside environmental noise (especially road noise). 

Locals may draw comparisons with the Aretha Franklin Amphitheatre, which has a capacity of 6,000 and is the epicentre of live summer entertainment in Detroit.

However, the architecture team says Windsor’s canopy design has significant differences and will serve more functions.

“This is not just about a concert, it’s designing a whole public space that has activation, and people can hang out there,” says Batkash. “There are no gates, it’s completely accessible any time of the day.”

The project is budgeted for $32.5 million, including a $13.5 million price tag for the construction of the canopy. 

“It can bring a lot of businesses here and revive the whole downtown Windsor, which I think a lot of people are really excited,” says Batkesh.