Cumberland Park

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Location: Nashville / Tennessee / USA / Type: Parks / Playgrounds / Built: 2012 /
Show on Google Maps / Published on April 19, 2013

Hargreaves Associates: Cumberland Park demonstrates Nashville’s commitment to both its children and to sustainability through brownfield remediation, floodplain preservation, stormwater harvesting, improved biodiversity, and interpretation of cultural and natural resources. It is a park that showcases its distinctive site qualities to attract families for imaginative play, events, and interaction with Nashville’s rich riverfront history. Cumberland Park and the neighboring redeveloped Bridge Building are the first constructed phases of a master plan prioritized to draw residents and visitors back to the river and downtown.

Located on the Cumberland River’s east bank below the Shelby Street pedestrian bridge, 6.5 acre Cumberland Park transforms decades of industrial and commercial land into a new family-focused adventure playground. Inspired by the diverse geology of Tennessee, the landscape provides all the ingredients needed for fun with water, light, stone, rolling grass, trees, ridges, and valleys concentrated into an urban public landscape that engages children’s imaginations through fun and educational play. Innovative use of conventional and custom play equipment creates a play-scape that is exciting for users of all ages and abilities, residents and visitors alike. No two experiences will be the same in a park that encourages free and organized play, exploration, learning, risk taking, and environmental awareness.

Originally developed by the Nashville Bridge Company (NABRICO) as a series of moorings, cranes, slips, offices, and warehouses, the site most recently served as an asphalt parking lot capping contaminated soil and debris generated during construction of LP Stadium. Cut materials generated during park construction were encapsulated in the park’s main landforms to reduce off-site disposal costs while introducing new topography and aspect to an otherwise flat site. Many of the existing above-grade industrial structures were retained and restored as interpretive elements, protecting unique cultural and historic features. Making these elements accessible to park users was integral to the site design, encouraging younger generations to explore and appreciate past riverfront uses.

The projects transform a derelict site and structure into a vibrant and geodiverse green space. Sensitive to the site’s relationship to the river and the impact of the 2010 floods that ravaged the Nashville area, the design team worked with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to ensure implementation of the park would preserve floodplain function without increasing flood elevations or decreasing flood storage. The park also restores native riparian buffer, reduces un-shaded pavement by 60%, increases native plant biodiversity 100%, utilizes regional materials and manufacturers to stimulate local economy, and captures an estimated 1,000,000 gallons of storm water annually to be reused as irrigation.

Cumberland Park features two main play-intensive areas and several other opportunities for free play. The Hollow is a one-of-a-kind adventure play experience for children and includes accessible sand play with buried fossils, an undulating synthetic and natural grass washboard shaded by semi-mature trees and interspersed with bouncing and spinning pads, see saw, belt bridge, and a green maze of live plants. The perforated stainless steel Cloud Bridge crosses the Hollow and culminates in curtains of rain falling onto an interactive splash pad with jets and a wading pool. The Gorge further challenges children’s skills featuring a stone climbing wall clad in local Tennessee Crab Orchard sandstone, ropes and nets course, sliding poles and ropes, and a 4-person wide embankment slide made with cool to the touch materials. The adjacent Bridge Building with barge-inspired elevator core addition houses a park office, restrooms, a full service concession stand, as well as local businesses and organizations, restaurants, and event space.

Cumberland Park is the flagship for the New Riverfront Revitalization Plan endorsed by the community in 2010, whose input called for the riverfront to provide more recreational opportunities, improved accessibility, and new performance spaces, an essential part of the city’s economy and culture. Cumberland Park and the Bridge Building were identified as ‘shovel-ready’ projects that would invigorate community interest in the riverfront, key to generating and supporting additional funding for future phases of the revitalization plan. The grand opening of Cumberland Park in April 2012 brought hundreds of families to downtown Nashville. Since its opening, the park has hosted the Mayor’s annual State of Metro Address, the city’s annual Fourth of July celebration, and throughout the autumn months, a weekly ‘Jazz on the Cumberland’ concert series. The Bridge Building has hosted over 20 major events such as weddings receptions and corporate functions, and is 90% leased to local businesses and organizations, including the Cumberland River Compact, a group dedicated to enhancing water quality in the Cumberland River. Together the two projects have enhanced the game-day experience at LP Field, providing family-friendly options and resources in close proximity to the stadium.

Redevelopment of the riverfront into active and vibrant public spaces is further supported by Mayor Karl Dean’s focus work to improve quality of life in the city through initiatives that promote health, diversity, and sustainability. Recognizing the proven health and wellness benefits of open space, the Mayor’s office prioritized funding and construction of the park and building. Cumberland Park addresses these social challenges by promoting strong community participation & equitable site use and access, promoting sustainability awareness and education through play, providing opportunities for healthy outdoor physical activity, and providing healthy food options for park concessions. The park is an integral part of the larger city effort to encourage non-motorized transportation and use of public transit, introducing a new trail head for cycle networks and greenways.


• 6.5 acres of park
• 900 feet of riverfront
• 700 feet of esplanade
• 1,200 people for an event
• 1,000,000 gallons of storm water captured and reused for irrigation in a typical year
• 200 tons of Tennessee Crab Orchard Sandstone
• 180 trees and 1650 shrubs planted
• 1.6 acres of meadow and riparian grasses restored.
• Undercover hardstand for temporary basketball courts, skate park or ice rink
• $9.5M construction cost

Protects Floodplain
• Preserves floodplain function without increasing flood elevations or decreasing flood storage.

Remediated Brownfield Site
• Remediated former industrial land for intend use.

Encourages non-motorized transportation and use of public transit
• New trail head for cycle network and greenways,
• Train station and bus stops within 0.25 mile,
• Parking shared – no additional parking provided.

Reduced Heat Island Effects
• Un-shaded pavement reduced by 60%.

Reduced Light Pollution
• No new light trespass, reduced glare,
• No lighting on riverbank habitat.

Conserves Water & Restores Water Cycle
• Restored riparian buffer,
• Managed and harvested storm water on site,
• Decreased and treated storm water run-off before entering the river,
• 100% reduction in potable water use for irrigation,
• 1,000,000 gallons of storm water captured and reused for irrigation in a typical year.

Restored Habitat & Biodiversity
• Increased plant biodiversity by 100%,
• Used appropriate non-invasive plants,
• 80% of all plants are native.

Conserved Materials
• Retained and reused on-site structures,
• Protected and maintained unique cultural and historic features,
• Used regional stone and Forest Stewardship Council certified wood.

Promoted Health and Well-being
• Promoted strong community participation,
• Promoted equitable site use and access,
• Promoted sustainability awareness and education through play,
• Provided opportunities for healthy outdoor physical activity including play,
• Provided healthy food options for park concessions.

Prime Design Consultant: Hargreaves Associates
Architecture: EOA Architects
Civil Engineering: Barge Cauthen & Associates
Structural Engineering: EMC Structural Engineers
Water Feature Design: Commercial Aquatic Engineering
Planting & Irrigation: Hawkins Partners, Inc.
Lighting Design: LAM Partners
Electrical Engineering: Power Management Corporation
Geotechnical Engineering: TTL, Inc.
Environmental Engineering: Civil & Environmental Consultants, Inc.
Surveying: Thornton & Associates, Inc.
Graphic Design: Blue Tractor Digital Design Co.
General Contractor: Hardaway Construction Corp.
Bridge Building Architect: Hastings Architecture Associates
Location: Nashville, Tennessee, USA

Developer: Metropolitan Development and Housing Agency
Program Manager: American Constructors Inc.
Operator: MetroParks

One thought on "Cumberland Park by Hargreaves Associate"

  1. Pat says:

    It would be nice if the text wasn’t light grey on a white background. Please fix.

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