Studio Gang and SCAPE reveal new design for Tom Lee Park

Tom Lee Park

The updated concept designs for the most visible and accessible 30 acres of Memphis’ riverfront, with Tom Lee Park at its center, was developed by Studio Gang and SCAPE and illustrates a plan for the park to become Memphis’ next civic jewel by reconnecting the city with the Mississippi River and creating a beautiful place for community life to flourish on the water’s edge.

Informed by the dynamic patterns of the Mississippi River, the new park will welcome Memphians and visitors alike by creating new spaces, pathways, and immersive ecological experiences in the park itself, but also by improving the entrance points along and across Riverside Drive. Five new pavilions and outdoor spaces that range in scale from intimate areas to expansive open lawns will support a diverse range of activities elevated with the spectacular living backdrop of the Mighty Mississippi.

“For 100 years we’ve dreamed of a riverfront whose majesty was a match for the river it frames. Today, we finally have the opportunity to make the most of our position at the widest and wildest point on the Mississippi River,” said Carol Coletta, president and CEO of Memphis River Parks Partnership. “Memphians are going to be thrilled with what’s coming to their riverfront. This work is already winning national awards and it will produce a riverfront we’ll all be proud of for generations to come.”

Today’s design release is an important step forward in a riverfront transformation catalyzed by Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland’s riverfront task force in 2016. With River Garden, River Line and Fourth Bluff Park already complete, and the rehabilitation of the historic Cobblestone Landing in the pre-construction phase, Tom Lee Park is the largest and most visible missing piece of this vision.

The current design meets or exceeds all design constraints generated through a mediation process with Memphis in May and will continue to develop in anticipation of groundbreaking within the year. “Just like this region has been shaped by the Mississippi, our design for Tom Lee Park has been shaped by the input of the many Memphians who have graciously shared their knowledge, ideas, and dreams with us.

This new park is meant to be a place where everyone can come to enjoy their favorite activities and to take in the natural wonders of the Mississippi. Embracing the local knowhow that characterized the working waterfront structures that operated here for so long, the architecture is designed to celebrate the material history of Memphis by making new use of salvaged wood and metals” said Studio Gang Founding Principal Jeanne Gang.

“This new vision for Tom Lee Park is inspired by the vibrant culture and unique geography of Memphis,” said Kate Orff, FASLA, Founding Principal of SCAPE. “With this design, we wanted to bring the dynamic forms of the Mississippi together with a range of flexible spaces and outdoor rooms, creating places on the riverfront for all Memphians to enjoy.”

“This park redesign will be a stunning example of what we can accomplish by coming together to achieve great things,” Ray Pohlman, chair of Memphis River Parks Partnership said. Source by Memphis River Parks.

  • Location: Memphis, USA
  • Architect and Master Planner: Studio Gang
  • Landscape Architect and Park Designer: SCAPE
  • Civil Engineer: Kimley-Horn
  • Structural Engineer: Thornton Tomasetti
  • Ecologist: Applied Ecological Services
  • MEP Engineer: Innovative Engineering Services
  • Sustainability Consultant: Databased+
  • Lighting Design: Randy Burkett Lighting Design
  • Owner: City of Memphis
  • Client: Memphis River Parks Partnership
  • Area: 30 acres
  • Year: 2020
  • Images: Studio Gang and SCAPE, Courtesy Studio Gang

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