Urban Wilderness Gateway

Project: Urban Wilderness Gateway
Location: Knoxville, Tennessee
Client: City of Knoxville
Size: 113 acres over 2.2 miles 
Timeline: Phase 1 in Summer 2019

In the early 1980’s, the Tennessee Department of Transportation (TDOT) began construction of James White Parkway, a controlled access four-lane highway that, once complete, would bisect South Knoxville. The project halted construction over 30 years ago and a series of ad hoc outdoor recreation destinations were created in its intended path. These venues have evolved over recent decades to become Knoxville's Urban Wilderness, one of the most popular and dynamic outdoor recreation destinations in the United States. The Urban Wilderness Gateway Park design team is leading the effort to transform James White Parkway into a 2.2 mile and 112-acre gateway to the Urban Wilderness.

The design of the Terminus unites the two worlds of the site - urban and wild – in order to create a strong, distinctive threshold that accentuates these differences and celebrates the underpass as a framing device and a place for play. Improvements at the Baker Creek Preserve Trailhead create a more open and public entrance to the site’s famous mountain biking trails with a large sloped lawn, soft plaza gathering space, picnic pavilion, and parking. The greenway winds through the site and ends at the trailhead, completing the connection from the Terminus.

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