SCAPE is collaborating with Studio Gang to revitalize Tom Lee Park in Memphis into a signature public park where community life can flourish year-round, grounded in the Mississippi River’s dynamic rhythms and local ecology.
For the new park, architecture and landscape work closely together to make the park a welcoming, comfortable place for all Memphians and visitors, whether they’re taking part in outdoor activities or relaxing alongside the Mississippi. The park’s 30 acres are laid out as a series of four distinct zones—defined by topography, vegetation, pathways, and architecture—that flow together to support a range of active and passive uses. The landscape design of each zone is informed by different natural river formations or behaviors. The curving, intersecting paths and topography of “The Riffle,” for example, serve as an organic crossroads at the park’s center that’s threaded through with soft, shaded places to rest and watch busier activity go by. Some of these planted areas also function as bioswales that collect and filter stormwater—one example of the natural infrastructure systems woven into the design. Throughout the park, regionally-specific plant species are selected to provide shade and beauty for people as well as habitat for wildlife. Hearty and well-adapted to life at the Mississippi’s edge, these trees, shrubs, and other plants make the park an ever-changing place that marks the passage of the seasons.
Tom Lee Park was one of the five zones included in Studio Gang’s 2017 Memphis Riverfront master plan for six miles of the city’s Mississippi riverfront that was shaped through a series of community engagement workshops, meetings, interviews, and surveys. The park’s design was developed over a long period of consultation with community groups, including key park stakeholders, and incorporates the ideas and input from more than 4,000 voices. The new Tom Lee Park design aims to honor and elevate their ambitions for Memphis’s future by connecting the city back to its starting point–the Mississippi River.
- Memphis River Parks Partnership