First Prize, People's Choice Award: Nashville Design Action Competition
2014 ASLA Colorado Professional Honor Award, Planning and Analysis
Victor Perez-Amado, Mike Albert
In the wake of the 2010 catastrophic floods, Nashville directed its attention towards developing sustainable development approaches along its Cumberland River. The planning initiative reimagines the limitations of a 75-acre processing plant, of which two-thirds resides within the floodplain, into an urban district and regional park responsive to the dynamic processes of ecological change. Connecting the “core to shore,” a riverfront promenade uniquely abstracts the hydrological patterns of the Tennessee geography, creating a landscape-based planning framework for the district.
| From 133 submissions across 29 countries, the master planning proposal is the Grand Prize Award and People’s Choice Award recipients for the Designing Action International Competition. Situated upon Nashville’s East Bank, and occupying over one-half mile of frontage along Cumberland River, the 75-acre competition site currently operates as a scrap metal processing yard that Metro officials have longed to relocate. The competition solicited innovative responses for how to create a new vibrant, active district for downtown Nashville, with an emphasis on the inclusion of active recreation spaces that cater to a diverse array of sports and athletics.
The master plan addresses three dilemmas currently facing Nashville:
Addressing Flooding | In May 2010, Nashville experienced one of the worst floods in its history. In a 36-hour period, over 13 inches of rain fell in the county, causing over $2.5 billion in damages and declaring Nashville a Federal Disaster Area. Conversations since have focused on developing more sustainable ways the city can approach development to help prevent future disasters. Two-thirds of the site lies within the 100-year floodplain and was severely impacted.
Elevating Public Health | Tennessee is currently ranked as our nation’s fourth most obese state. With a combined obesity and overweight rate of 68.3%, this statistic has escalated by 17.6% over the past two decades. Furthermore, only 31% of adolescents participate in daily physical education classes while 26.7% of adults report physical activity in the last 30 days. These facts have prompted civic leaders are aggressively pursuing alternative policy and physical ideas that work towards helping create a healthier city.
Contextual Inspiration | Although the site’s existing industrial structures provided the opportunity to craft a post-industrial destination, alone, they did not provide the cohesive framework needed to address critical issues of connectivity and flooding. Thus, supplemental inspiration was derived elsewhere. Traversing 688 miles across the Tennessee landscape, in a striking oxbow pattern of bends, the Cumberland River has long served as a regional resource for recreation and commerce. Through its navigable waters, the natural feature serves as a form of infrastructure, connecting a sequence of communities along its banks. Situated upon one such “bend,” the project site possesses the special opportunity to not only celebrate this cultural phenomenon but apply its principles of connectivity to Designing Action.
Planning Framework | Referencing the Cumberland, the proposal abstracts its inspiration into a sequence of “bends and runs,” unifying the district through an iconic, pedestrian promenade. Envisioned as a strategy which could overcome the natural division caused by the floodplain between developable land – “the core” – and the Cumberland River – “the shore,” the riverfront pedestrian promenade abstracts the river’s oxbow patterns. In a unifying move, the strategy addresses critical factors of connectivity, flooding and recreation.” Following the floodplain, the feature not only threads a connection between civic anchors, but immerses individuals in a continuous, recreation-focused experience. Shaded by a tulip poplar allee, Tennessee’s State Tree, the promenade contributes to Nashville’s urban reforestation (downtown Nashville possesses only a 4.8% tree canopy coverage) and establishes a reconfigured datum for flooding
Unlike Nashville’s other downtown riverfront parks – narrow and steep – the study area possesses a deep, level interior. Furthermore, while the Music City Bikeway offers east-west connection, it does not occupy pertinent interior and river-adjacent spaces. Thus, the team examined how to connection the site’s “core and shore.” Oriented north-south, the promenade synthesizes both conditions, and capitalizes on the Bikeway to create a diverse network of internal circuits. Sharply angled, eroded and unstable, the existing bank was re-contoured, increasing flood conveyance capacity, increasing edge conditions for regional habitat and improving public accessibility programmatic amenities including an earthen amphitheater.