SCAPE and Studio Gang unveil new design for Tom Lee Park

May 21, 2020

On Wednesday, May 20, we unveiled a new design for Tom Lee Park with Studio Gang–a 30-acre riverfront park catalyzing the unification of river and city by transforming the most visible and accessible piece of the Mississippi riverfront into a signature park for all Memphians. Via live webcast on The Daily Memphian homepage, SCAPE Founding Principal Kate Orff, FASLA, presented the new vision alongside Jeanne Gang (Founding Principal, Studio Gang) and Carol Coletta (President and CEO, Memphis River Parks Partnership).

Designed to welcome all, the park’s landscape and architectural features will support a diverse array of activities and elevate them with the living backdrop of the Mississippi. To open up access to the park and create a welcoming sense of arrival, the design includes five new and improved entrances with defined landing points that extend from connecting streets, including the iconic Beale Street. The new entrances tie into a city-wide network of riverfront walking and biking trails, creating direct connections to key civic assets and institutions such as the Cossitt Library, National Civil Rights Museum, and the future home of the Brooks Museum of Art. Incorporating the ideas and input of thousands of Memphians, the park also accommodates spaces for sports and fitness, children’s play, outdoor education, community dinners and dances, private events, concerts, festivals, and more.

Throughout the park, planting and landforms will frame open views of the river and provide shade and shelter. A restored soil system will nourish a robust riparian pallette well-adapted to life at the river’s edge that highlights the beauty of regional landscapes while creating habitat for wildlife. Native trees, shrubs, and vibrant perennials will comprise an ever-changing landscape along the dynamic riverfront. Well-adapted to life at the Mississippi’s edge, these plants make the park a resilient and ever-changing place that marks the passage of the seasons—a peaceful spot within the city for Memphians to reconnect with each other and nature’s rhythms.

The live presentation was released in conjunction with an article in The Daily Memphian discussing the new design, and the launch of a new project website by the Memphis River Parks Partnership. You can read more about the new park design on SCAPE’s project page.