Thoughts on the Ore Dock

A few thoughts on a beloved Marquette icon . . .

One of the strongest sources of inspiration for the work we do as architects is the site itself. A mixture of topography, region, orientation, light, zoning and history come together at any given site to create a condition that is completely unique. For our family, moving to Marquette was very much inspired by the identity of this city and region which is so closely entwined with the particulars of this location.  A city on a Lake . . the North Coast . .  deep roots in mining and Great Lake shipping. These are the qualities every site in this region carries with it. And none more deeply than the Ore Dock in Marquette's Lower Harbor.  

The Ore Dock is such a large and permanent structure that even though it is man made, built strong and intended to be tremendously functional, it has taken on the characteristics of a beloved but unreachable element of the geography.

A proud butte jutting into Lake Superior.                 An iconic component of the vista.                   Something we look at but don't touch.

                      But what if . . . 

What if we view the Ore Dock as a gift handed down from a past generation for us to use for purposes that are relevant today. What if we embrace it as the keystone in the the recent development of our Lakeshore that has restored access to the public. These were the thoughts tossing around our restless architect minds when we happened upon a bunch of like minded individuals with wildly ranging skill sets. And that is how we came to be a part of the Friends of the Ore Dock Boteco Center.

View of the Proposed BotEco Center from the shore

View of the Proposed BotEco Center from the shore



The BotEco Center will first and foremost serve the purpose of bringing public access to the Ore Dock. We envision a lively boardwalk around the perimeter and possibly through the interior of the structure. In addition to public access we can imagine any number of events or functions occurring here. 

The construction of the BotEco Center would be implemented in phases and a public boardwalk represents the first phase.

To the right is a view of the far eastern end of the BotEco Center including a potential plaza and amphitheater space. 

A view of the BotEco Center from Mattson Lower Harbor Park

A view of the BotEco Center from Mattson Lower Harbor Park

The Ore Dock is 900 feet long and 55,000 square feet. It is quite impressive and yet it is only 25 percent of the interior volume of space of the Superior Dome! 

Our team is committed to making the Ore Dock habitable in a way that would prioritize its historic preservation and limit its impact via sustainable development. 

In addition to the perimeter public board walk the BotEco Center would provide year round interior garden spaces. A space filled with nature and greenery would provide an oasis in the deep winter months.

The Program for BotEco will include public spaces, retail, conferencing center, research facilities, amenities, amphitheater, roof top exterior park space and an urban plaza.

Our goal with the BotEco Center program is to engage and exceed the master plan recommendations as set forth by the city commission. This project would complete the renaissance of development that is Marquette's Lower Harbor.