Architects: Hargreaves Associates + EOA Architects
Location: Nashville, Tennessee, USA
Program Manager: American Constructors
Operator: Metro Parks
Photographs: Courtesy of Hargreaves Associates
Former riverfront wasteland transformed into a cool play park for families. Located on the Cumberland River’s east bank under the Shelby Street Bridge, the 6.5 acre Cumberland Park and adjacent Bridge Building together create a special place that gives Nashvillians many more reasons to enjoy downtown. Complementing LP Field, the park is the flagship for the New Riverfront Revitalization Plan endorsed by the community in 2010 and features:
• The Hollow – a one-of-a-kind adventure and nature play experience for kids of all ages and abilities, including an undulating washboard, accessible sand play with buried fossils, bouncing pad, green maze made of live plants, rainbow-casting prisms and lights in constellation patterns, a “cloud” bridge culminating in curtains of rain, and an interactive splash pad with jets and wading pool.
• The Gorge – a stone climbing wall featuring local Tennessee Crab Orchard sandstone, ropes and nets course, a 4-person wide embankment slide made with materials that stay cooler in the sun, and embedded fossils.
• The Scoops – a cooling-off lawn area and grove of trees featuring stepping stone paths dipping through drifts of mist that are activated by motion and step sensors.
• The Explorer Trail – meandering paths weaving through groves and butterfly meadows,
• The Terrace – outdoor tables and chairs under trees and adjacent to play areas, concessions, and restrooms for easy parent supervision.
• The Canopy & Lawn – An outdoor amphitheater for gatherings, events, movies or performances featuring a shade canopy and 1,550 square foot hardwood stage with plug & play utilities, sitting lawn framed by a grassed slope of ridge able to hold 1,200 people, and the spectacular backdrop of the Shelby St Bridge and downtown.
• The Riverbank & Esplanade – an esplanade overlooking restored riparian habitat, a restored gantry crane and catwalk projecting over the river for views of passing boats, and a rain water harvesting cistern topped by a floating wetland. The cistern collects 1,000,000 gallons of storm water annually that is reused for park irrigation.
• The Bridge Building – this renovated historic building includes public restrooms, a Metro Parks office, food concession, bike-share station and soon to be announced restaurant.
“Inspired by the geology of Tennessee, the landscape provides all the fun needed with water, light, stone, rolling grass, trees, ridges and valleys. Kid’s imaginations provide the rest so you don’t have to rely so much on conventional playground equipment,” said landscape architect Gavin McMillan. “It is park that turns its site specific qualities into a great place where families can spend a day, have fun and learn something of their riverfront history.”
Increasingly families are stretched for leisure time together and children have less and less exposure to the outdoors and nature despite the proven health and well-being benefits. Cumberland Park demonstrates not only Nashville’s commitment to its children but also to its sustainability through adaptive reuse, renewable geo-thermal energy use, efficient lighting, floodplain preservation and storage, Brownfield remediation, water harvesting for irrigation, improved biodiversity and interpretation of both cultural and natural resources.
“Cumberland Park encourages physical play and activity, incorporates the natural beauty of the riverfront and adds to the vitality of the East Bank, which are all important to me,” said Mayor Karl Dean. “The play park is unlike any other park we have in Nashville, and I see it becoming a major attraction and gathering place for families.”
“I’m proud MDHA has been able to be a part of this really unique destination for the city’s families,” MDHA Executive Director Phil Ryan said. “For decades to come, Cumberland Park will be a place where kids from across the community will be able to come and play together and where lots of family memories will be created. This is a complex project with lots of innovative features, and I’m glad we took the time and attention-to-detail needed to create a space unlike any other in the country.”
Cumberland Park was developed by the Metropolitan Housing and Development Agency, designed by Hargreaves Associates, built by Hardaway Construction Corp. for Metro Parks. The park is part of the larger Riverfront Revitalization Plan, which includes development of The Lawn, an open space for recreation and events, and the Bridge Building Landing. Detailed design for The Lawn & Landing is underway.