How would you redevelop the former Belle Isle Park zoo?

For those interested in helping shape a long-term vision for the former Belle Isle Park Zoo, now is the time to review student-led designs and provide initial input on plans for this historic park space. of Detroit Island.

A public survey to collect these comments is available online until July 4.

The vision project is the result of a long-standing partnership between Michigan State University’s School of Planning, Design, and Construction and the Parks and Recreation Division of the Department of Natural Resources of Michigan. Michigan.

With guidance from the Institut National Charette, MSU landscape architecture students prepared and facilitated a virtual workshop with park stakeholders last fall. This input was used to create student-led designs around the six broad overarching themes developed in the workshop:

  • Honoring and exploring the history of Belle Isle.
  • Present the island’s opportunities for sustainable ecosystems.
  • Provide plenty of opportunities for outdoor education.
  • Elevate the creative and performing arts in nature.
  • Provide interactive outdoor adventures and concessions.
  • Make space to withdraw and interact with nature and with each other.

Amanda Treadwell, urban land planner for MNR’s Parks and Recreation Division, said the survey is just one part, but an important part, of a long-term strategy to revitalize this area of ​​Belle Isle.

“We want to get a clearer picture of what people think the old zoo might be like. The survey is the place to let us know which themes you think are most important, as well as which public amenities and natural and built environments you most want to see,” Treadwell said. “The results will be an important starting point for further conversations to guide how the old zoo might be used in the future.”

Survey Feedback

Visitors, community members, stakeholders, and others interested in providing feedback on these proposed design themes are encouraged to complete the survey by July 4th. A link to the survey is also available on

People will be asked to rank the six themes in order of importance. They will also see several images – related to each of the themes – of MSU student design plans and will be asked to share their thoughts on which themes represent the best overall vision for the Old Zoo.

Survey respondents will have the opportunity to share their thoughts on the types of recreational activities, settings and structures they would like to see offered as well.

The results of the survey will be compiled with the park‘s multimodal transportation, traffic and traffic management study to create recommendations for the next phase of development. Treadwell stressed that the redevelopment of the former Belle Isle Zoo is a long-term process.

“Public input is an important part of creating meaningful public spaces, and this investigative opportunity is a first step toward involving the public throughout the process as we work to redesign this historic space on Belle Isle,” she said.

For more information, contact Amanda Treadwell at 313-264-6359 or [email protected]

Note to editors: Accompanying photos are available below for download.

  • ZooTheme and ZooTheme2: In a DNR survey, people will be asked to rank six themes – each linked to several MSU student-led blueprint images – in order of importance to the development of the former Belle Isle Park Zoo, as well than to provide other valuable input.
  • Zoo Aerial.jpg: A bird’s eye view of the former Belle Isle Park Zoo.

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