Aspire Park elevates and enhances the area’s latent qualities and characteristics—both physical and experiential—in order to establish a recognizable, memorable identity.

What began as a modest $10-million community park has grown, at the request of the client, into what will be a $30-million regional recreation destination. As the client’s ambitions for the project expanded, so too did PORT’s scope of work. From an original program of multi-use trails and river access anchored by a 10,000-sf visitors’ center, Aspire Park will now include, the following: a 20,000-sf visitors’ center; a 5,000-sf boat house and launch; a 200-ft long market roof; a 1.5-acre signature playground; a 2-acre bike pump-track and skills course; an 8-acre wildflower meadow; a 12-acre tree plantation; 6-acres of land-form berms; nearly 2,000 newly planted trees; 18-miles of bike and hiking trails; and a Smoky Mountain Ridges Overlook structure wrapping an existing on-site water tank. PORT is leading the design of all components of this design-build process—both architecture and landscape—and is serving as the landscape architect of record for the project.
Architect of Record: McCarty Holsaple McCarty, INC.
Civil: S&ME
Structural: Apex Engineers, INC.
MEP: Hodge Engineering, INC.
Lighting: Sesco Lighting
Landscape Planning + Design
Landscape Architecture

Existing Conditions

Situated at the bend of the Clinch River, and adjacent to a busy state highway and rail road, the site comprises four iconic natural landscapes — mountain, river, island, meadow. These landscapes became the organizational framework for the park.
At the crux of the four landscapes is The Landing, the multi-level, multi-programmed heart of Aspire Park. Anchored by the Onward and Upward Center, The Landing connects active and passive recreation with the surrounding natural landscapes and provides sweeping vistas over the site.

Onward + Upward Center

The Onward and Upward Center, or OUC, is at the heart of the park. A 22,000 sf building embedded into the adjacent hillside, the OUC contains exhibit space, a restaurant, event space, park offices, and maintenance facilities.

The Adventure Playground

The Adventure Playground is embedded into the hillside above the Onward and Upward Center. Featuring a series of open play areas interspersed within the forest, the Adventure Playground encourages active exploration, open-ended discovery, and many different types of play for all ages and abilities.

The Overlook

The Overlook extends out over the mountain itself, offering views of Clinton and its surrounding valleys and hills. A suspended walkway that includes swings, gathering spaces, the Overlook winds in and out of the trees, offering an unexpected highlight to the hike to the summit.
The Launch is anchored by an unconditioned pavilion with a small concessions stand, lockers, rental areas for watersports equipment, and restrooms. It provides shelter to visitors and acts as a hub for river activity in the Park.

From the striking flatness of the meadow cap, to the dramatic topography of the mountain ridges, Aspire Park offers an assortment of landscape experiences within a single park venue.

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