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Q&A with Chris Marcinkoski,

field operations architectural and urban designer



Keep it simple. That's the underlying theme behind Field Operations' winning plan for Shelby Farms.

While the other two companies in Shelby Farms' recent master-plan competition imagined grandiose visions of a massive interconnected lake system, a large amphitheater, and a bridge of flowers over Walnut Grove, Field Operations' focus was on enhancing the park's existing features.

The New York-based design firm was selected earlier this month based on public support for its plan. Throughout the month of March, all three firms — Field Operations, Tom Leader Studio, and Hargreaves and Associates — exhibited plans at the Central Library and the Shelby Farms Visitors' Center. There is no estimated cost associated with the Field Operations plan.

Field Operations is also currently converting a landfill in New York city into a major public park. — by Bianca Phillips

Flyer: You plan to plant one million trees in Shelby Farms. Where will they go?

Chris Marcinkoski: The trees will start at the beginning of the park and go all the way to the Wolf River. The idea is to tie the park together and block out the roads at the same time.

What will happen to Patriot Lake?

We're going to expand Patriot Lake so it's able to accommodate a variety of non-motorized water sports, like rowing, sailing, and kayaking. It'll be four-plus miles around and have wetlands on its edges. And we'll have boardwalks, beaches, a boathouse, and small marina area.

Your plan also includes a school.

It would be a life and environmental-sciences-based institution. It uses the park as a laboratory for its curriculum. It's not clear whether it would be a charter school or public or private.

The other firms' plans included athletic fields. Will you be adding those to the final plan for the park?

There are already a lot of soccer fields and baseball fields and running tracks near the park. We wanted to focus more on nature rather than formal sporting programs that occupy a lot of the land.

Why relegate public art to the old landfill space behind the BMX track at shelby farms?

We have a great deal of experience in this office dealing with landfill conditions. We're converting Fresh Kills landfill in New York into a public park on Staten Island.

We know there are limitations in terms of what you can do because there's methane [in the soil]. Something like the "Art Mound" seems to make sense.

Does green energy factor into your plan?

The Agricenter is a place where we can take advantage of some new energy sources. There's a potential of harnessing the methane from the landfill. There's an aspiration to use as much green energy as we can. If we can have a zero carbon footprint park, that's what we would like to do.

How does Shelby Farms compare to Fresh Kills project?

Fresh Kills is an isolated piece of infrastructure. You can go to Shelby Farms right now and take advantage of the park.

The main thing we want to do at Shelby Farms is create an identity. When we arrived in Memphis, we got a map at the car-rental place, and it still said that Shelby Farms was a penal farm. That's a problem if people don't yet know it's a park.

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