Field Ops to Design the Country’s Largest Urban Park

[A rendering of the bird refuge planned for Shelby Farms Park. Courtesy Field Operations.]

Yesterday, James Corner from Field Operations (the landscape architecture firm heading up the High Line’s design team) revealed plans for the firm’s newest commission: Shelby Farms Park in Memphis, the 4,500-acre site that will be America’s largest urban park. (Central Park, by comparison, is 843 acres.)

A framework map (from the Shelby Farms Park Conservancy) shows an expansive, lake-dotted site with paved and non-paved trails, horse stables, ballfields, fishing, a shooting range, and several wilderness areas. The site was once a state-run prison farm, and a connection to agriculture is one of the goals for the new park. Field Ops’ winning submission includes an “agri-center” with daily farmers’ markets and a model sustainable farm.

Field Operations beat out Hargreaves Associates and Tom Leader Studio in the competition, which was announced last summer.

Field Ops wins massive Memphis park competition [Architectural Record]

Shelby Farms Website

Dispatches from the Nursery

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[Gay Kepple from Millane Nursery, tagging the tented Hamamelis Pallida for a planting area on the High Line]

Sierra Bainbridge and Maura Rockcastle at Field Operations, the landscape architecture firm leading the High Line design team, have been traveling to plant nurseries around the east coast in search of native plants for the High Line. Planting is projected to begin this spring. Sierra explains what the trips are all about:

“We’re scouring native plant nurseries throughout the region, searching for many of the native trees and shrubs proposed for the High Line.  Some of the native material we have found is a little smaller than planned, which only means it will have more time to naturalize and grow into its new environment.

Our first tagging trip was on February 28, to the north fork of Long Island. There we tagged the first tree for the High Line, the Koelreuteria paniculata (Goldenrain tree) for the area around the stair entrance to the High Line at 14th street. Because the planting beds have very shallow depths, we are planting lots of smaller trees and shrubs so that they will fit and acclimatize to the conditions on the High Line as they grow. We measured a few pre-dug Koelreuteria rootballs to ensure they would fit into the shallow depths of their planting bed, but we ended up choosing trees that are still in the field. We saw a lot of other great plants that day, but we went only for the lovely Koelreuteria.”

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[Sierra, left, tagging the first tree for the High Line, with Annette Wilkus from SiteWorks, the planting contract manager. ]

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[Tagging the Koelreuteria paniculata]

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[Measuring the rootballs]

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