Shelby Farms Park

Field Operations won the international design competition for the transformation of a 4,500 acre former penal farm into a new urban park for Memphis. field operations’ Master Plan was approved by the County Commission in 2008, and an ambitious phase 1 implementation design broke ground in 2010.  A strategic threefold concept of “One Park, One Million Trees, Twelve Landscapes,” defines the new park. “One Park” addresses the goals of unity, connectivity, sense-of-place, ecosystem, identity and inclusion.  New circulation pathways, tree plantings, gateways, signage and consistent design elements will shape the Park as one.  “One Million New Trees” addresses the goals of ecological improvement and biodiversity, connecting habitat areas, defining edges, shaping rooms and screening out undesirable views.

“Twelve Landscapes” addresses the diversity and richness of the different areas of the site, the varied user group demands, and the definition of future management zones.  At the center of the Park is a magnificent new lake, supporting fish habitat and wide range of non-motorized water sport activities.

From the architects:

Shelby Farms Park is already today an amazing reserve of public parkland and amenity. It’s huge scale offers an extraordinary resource for people who are interested in large-scale recreation activities – strolling, jogging, cycling, roller-blading, picnicking, dog walking, swimming, camping, horse-back riding, dog training, fishing, shooting, gardening and the like. It’s agricultural heritage is also a great resource for land husbandry practices, including farming, research, energy, education and markets.

Our design vision amplifies these trends toward higher intensity and variety of uses. New entrances, pathways, plantings and facilities will shape a more defined and beautiful identity for the Park as a whole. In the center will be a magnificent new lake, three times the size of the current lake, supporting a wide range of non-motorized water sport activities. Twelve distinctive landscapes will each support certain uses and activities, allowing a coherent “place” structure for the many varied user groups set within a larger Park setting.

Continuing the agricultural heritage of the site, the new Park becomes a large-scale public place of cultivation, growth, production, health and wellbeing (as in a sports farm, an arts farm, a culture farm, an energy farm, a tree farm, as well as the more familiar land husbandry farm). In this way, traditional land practices are hybridized with 21st-century health and recreation uses – a new ecology of place.

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