Attempting to define James Corner Field Operations’ plan to restore Shelby Farms Park, a wild woodland amid Tennesee’s urban tangle.


Location Memphis, TN
Size 4,500 acres
Completed Ongoing, Woodland Discovery
Playground completed 2011
Landscape Architect James Corner Field
Civil Engineering Pickering Firm
Architecture Archimania
Client Shelby Farms Park Conservancy

prox·i·mal (adj) \’präk-sə-məl\
Located just 12 miles from downtown Memphis, Tennessee, Shelby Farms Park is a 4,500-acre park set on a former penal agricultural area owned by the Shelby Farms Park Conservancy.

trans·for·ma·tion (noun) \ˌtran(t)s-fər-ˈmā-shən\
Beginning in 2008, Shelby Farms Park Conservancy partnered with James Corner Field Operations to revitalize the park, raising funds and instituting a master plan, which addresses definition, fragmentation, and access issues by instituting new sustainable programs and a large-scale landscape overhaul.

com·pre·hen·sive (adj) \ˌkäm-pri-ˈhen(t)-siv\
Delivery on the master plan, which began in 2009, included new greenway connections, playgrounds, gateway signage, and the expansion of Patriot Lake. Pickering Firm Inc. and Archimania were enlisted to oversee the civil engineering and architecture for the park.

The master plan for Shelby Farms Park has four objectives: enhance the park’s identity, connect access and circulation, create ecological connections, and define edges and gateways for the park.

play (verb) \ˈplā\
In 2011, one year after James Corner launched the “One Million Trees” initiative to engage the local community to plant and cultivate trees within the park, construction was completed on the 3.5-acre Woodland Discovery Playground. The SITES-certified play area was planned with the input of kids themselves and draws from its ties to the greater forest restoration project.

on·go·ing (adj) \ˈȯn-ˌgō-iŋ\
Partnering with research teams from the Groundwater Institute and Ecological Research Center at the University of Memphis, Phase 1 of the master plan also includes the expansion of Patriot Lake, which will double its size to cover more than 100 acres, improving the health of the lake and revitalizing upland landscape for continued park restoration.