Downtown Riverfront Park

Where the Willamette Meets the City

As a community, we trace our origins to the river. Eugene Skinner created his first plat for this city located along the Willamette River’s southern bank, but severe floods forced him to higher ground. He drew a second map of Eugene with the Downtown Park Blocks as its centerpiece and the city took its first step away from the water’s edge, leaving Eugene’s riverfront to be primarily populated by industry for the next 150 years.

One of the priorities the City heard most clearly in talking to the community about the future of parks and recreation in Eugene, is providing access to the river – for everything from recreation to simply enjoying the views. The three-acre Downtown Riverfront Park, with adjacent one-acre public plaza, will be the heart of the greater riverfront development that reimagines a new, vibrant future and will, once again, unite our city with the river.

Information about the 16-acre Downtown Riverfront Development can be found at

The Design Team

The City has retained Walker Macy as the design consultant. Walker Macy has been providing landscape architecture, urban design, and planning services since 1976. They specialize in providing creative solutions that transform public and private spaces into successful urban plazas, parks, and waterfront revitalization projects. They have received 31 awards from the Oregon chapter of the American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA) and 2 National ASLA Merit Awards. Notable projects include the Ankeny Plaza, Pioneer Courthouse Square, and the South Waterfront Park in Portland. 

The team assembled includes a range of technical and design sub-consultants who specialize in: public outreach, public art, environmental toxicology, river's edge permitting, geotechnical, architecture, site and cultural history, and more.

Public Involvement

Focus groups, open houses, surveys, and online outreach helped shape our comprehensive, three-month public involvement process. During the course of this process, we received more than 3,500 responses from the community about how they envision the Downtown Riverfront Park. Read the full Public Involvement Summary here

highlights from the riverfront public surveys

Park Design

Updated designs have refined some of the earlier concepts and reflect the needs and wants of our community. The high level concept is a layered landscape - one that moves from more urban on the redevelopment site down toward natural and soft areas with pedestrian paths woven through the riverbank. 

The public engagement highlighted a desire for an urban riverfront park where people can can come and see the river within a context of learning about our community and environmental history. This will be reflected in the interpretive art elements. 

Click through the images below to see the updated park design, multi-modal paths and interpretive art concepts. A larger image can be viewed by clicking on the individual image in the slideshow.

Riverfront Park Site

map showing the boundaries of the park

Park Design Features

diagram of future riverfront park

illustration of riverfront seating Opens in new window

Visual access to the river is a big piece of this project. Both in the master plan and the public engagement process, bringing the City to the river was a priority. This design features lots of open views and river overlooks. 

diagram showing the different paths Opens in new window

There was a strong desire from the community for split-mode paths.

illustration of the overlook and multi-modal paths Opens in new window

The bike path will be upgraded to a multi-modal path with separate paths for bicycles and pedestrians. Smaller, dedicated pedestrian paths break off from the main path, bringing you closer to the river.

Interpretive Art

diagram showing the areas of interpretive art Opens in new window

Interpreting the history, community and environment allows us to build a cultural landscape within our parks and open spaces. We are starting to explore interpretive elements in the themes of energy, ecology, industry and community.


illustration of people standing at river overlook with circle emitting steam


 illustration of bench with ecological information on it


illustration of water fountain with ferry street bridge community information


Construction of the three-acre park will happen in two phases. This spring/summer we will be doing utility relocation and riparian enhancement. This vital work includes: removal of invasive species, laying back of slopes, and replanting the area with a higher diversity of native plants.

The second phase will take place in summer 2020 when we will be constructing all of the park features – the overlooks, paths, landscapes, furniture, etc. – with the goal of completing the park by Spring 2021.

The one-acre plaza will follow, as the surrounding Downtown Riverfront Development is constructed.

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