Downtown Fort Pierre Riverfront Visioning

Fort Pierre, SD | Water


The City of Fort Pierre (City) enlisted the community engagement and design expertise of ISG to reconnect the community to one of its most valuable assets, the Missouri River. The Fort Pierre Riverfront Visioning Master Plan offers recommendations for future planning and improvements in a cohesive manner, spurring economic vitality throughout the City.


The attraction of new residents and development opportunities to Fort Pierre had grown stagnant. With a major highway bridge reconstruction project on the horizon impacting the City’s gateway, stakeholders organized the Future of Fort Pierre initiative to plan for enhanced economic, recreational, arts, and entertainment opportunities along the City’s riverfront.


ISG partnered with the City of Fort Pierre, local community champions, and other key stakeholders to lead a phased approach for the planning and implementation of redevelopment along the riverfront. Phase one was a comprehensive visioning process for the City’s entire riverfront. A multi-disciplinary team of designers led a focused, multi-day design charrette to conceptualize a riverfront redevelopment plan that would coincide with the reconstruction of Lieutenant Commander John Waldron Bridge (Bridge). The resulting high-level, Fort Pierre Riverfront Visioning Master Plan (Master Plan), includes conceptual drawings, improvement recommendations, and planning strategies for two distinct areas of the City: Missouri River Bridge Plaza/Highway 83 Corridor and Downtown/Fischer’s Lilly Park. Honoring the history and unique scenic character of Fort Pierre, the Master Plan promotes mixed-use development with a focus on density, improved access to the river, and active lifestyles.

The completion of the Master Plan was critical in providing the City the necessary information to create a high-level budget to leverage state funding to implement the Missouri River Bridge Plaza/Highway 83 Corridor project. Phase two, the design and construction of Missouri River Bridge Plaza (Bridge Plaza), took top priority as it related to the timing of the reconstruction of the Bridge. ISG translated the
high-level design concepts from the Master Plan into final construction drawings slated for completion in 2021.

The Bridge Plaza design includes an accessible walkway and staircase access from the Bridge to the river walkway. All walkways meet ADA compliance and include seat walls built into the landscape, which are saturated with native prairie plantings attracting butterflies and other natural species. Pedestrian lighting on the underside of the Bridge and throughout the site create a safe and welcoming atmosphere throughout the day and evening, and site furniture such as bike racks and benches offer multiple nodes for visitors to gather. A signature feature of the plaza is the observation pier, which cantilevers over the river’s edge, offering scenic views of the river and recreational fishing opportunities. To honor Lieutenant Commander John Waldron, the Bridge’s namesake, and the veteran community, a custom military insignia was designed and inset into the pavers acting as a historical touchstone—connecting the community’s past to the present.

Future phasing and development plans for the Bridge Plaza include a visitor center and large-scale public art commission by internationally renowned artist, John Lopez of South Dakota. Known for his master craftsmanship of reclaimed metal, Lopez will be creating a bison sculpture to pay homage to the history of bison in the area. Additionally, the City is considering improvements to its marina, situated in the City’s mid-point, to reinvigorate the neighborhood. By investing in comprehensive planning efforts upfront, Fort Pierre has positioned itself for an increase in valuable assets and economic development opportunities along its riverfront long into the future.

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