Studio Gang and SCAPE Revitalise a Remarkable Urban Community Design | Day One Tom Lee Park

In a transformative effort, Studio Gang and SCAPE, both based in the United States, have unveiled a stunning renovation of the public park along the Mississippi River in Memphis. Named Day One at Tom Lee Park, this revitalized space encompasses 31 acres of riverfront land, offering a wealth of amenities designed to reconnect the city to its majestic river. Know more about it on SURFACES REPORTER (SR).


On the water, terraces designed by SCAPE and Studio Gang provide picturesque views of the river and the restored vegetation lining the river’s edge.

Studio Gang, hailing from Chicago, masterminded the park’s overall design, while SCAPE executed the landscaping, including soil remediation and the planting of over a thousand trees. Stretching six miles along the waterfront, the Day One at Tom Lee Park emerges as a blueprint for inclusive public spaces, carefully orchestrated by the Memphis River Parks Partnership (MRRP), a non-profit organization overseeing Tom Lee Park.


At its core lies the Active Core, featuring a remarkable 16,000sqft shade structure crafted from glued-laminated timber, known as the Sunset Canopy.

Nestled adjacent to underserved neighbourhoods, including Tennessee’s lowest-income zip code, this ambitious endeavor breathes new life into the area. At its core lies the Active Core, featuring a remarkable 16,000sqft shade structure crafted from glued-laminated timber, known as the Sunset Canopy. This poignant name pays tribute to Tyre Nichols, a Black man tragically killed by police earlier this year, who had a penchant for capturing the beauty of sunsets. Beneath the Sunset Canopy, a basketball court awaits, its surface designed by Memphis-born artist James Little. The park also introduces the nation’s inaugural ADA-compliant crossing to the river’s edge, aptly named the Civic Gateway. This entrance leads visitors down a series of bluffs and unfolds into groves and fields for recreation and social gatherings, accompanied by cooling misters to combat Memphis’ scorching summers.


The revitalization journey of Day One at Tom Lee Park began five years ago, gathering support from sponsors and extensive community involvement.

Within a forested enclave, visitors can discover A Monument to Listening, an installation by artist Theaster Gates. This captivating piece features a collection of rounded, black chairs atop a square of pavement. Nearby stands another installation, a sculpture by artist David Allan Clark from 2006, both dedicated to the park’s namesake, Tom Lee, a heroic Black river worker who saved numerous lives during a 1925 riverboat accident. Denmark-based playground designer Monstrum contributes a river-themed play area, a collaborative effort with SCAPE situated near the Sunset Canopy. Adjacent to this play area, timber pavilions offer passive cooling and will serve as concession areas.


Named Day One at Tom Lee Park, this revitalized space encompasses 31 acres of riverfront land, offering a wealth of amenities designed to reconnect the city to its majestic river.

On the water, terraces designed by SCAPE and Studio Gang provide picturesque views of the river and the restored vegetation lining the river’s edge. These terraces accommodate various structures, including a classroom and a pollinator lab. Here, visitors can stand on a wooden platform while observing the native pollinator meadow flourishing near the river’s edge. The revitalization journey of Day One at Tom Lee Park began five years ago, gathering support from sponsors and extensive community involvement. Tom Lee Park’s boundaries, established in the 1990s by the Army Corps of Engineers, had long served as a venue for local festivals. However, the park had fallen into disrepair over the years, mirroring a protracted economic downturn in Memphis. The resurrection of Tom Lee Park, now known as Day One, represents a remarkable achievement in urban design and community revitalization, forging a vibrant and inclusive space along the banks of the mighty Mississippi River.

Image credit: Tom Harris; Conner Ryan; Ty Cole

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