High Ground Park
IBI Group was hired by The Aslan Foundation, a Knoxville-based non-profit, to develop a plan and program for this 39-acre site at Fort Higley, a former Civil War fort.
Transforming Civil War remnants into a cultural asset
Perched along the ridges of South Knoxville, High Ground Park transforms once neglected and overgrown remnants from the Civil War into a park of beauty and substance, preserving its integrity as a historic resource and providing the public with open space and a rich cultural asset.
The newly constructed passive use park encapsulates Fort Higley, encouraging the public to explore the site and its history. Parking with a trailhead and trail system, including interpretive exhibits, guides visitors to the fort comprised of earthworks constructed by the Union Army days before Knoxville’s most well known Civil War battle, the Battle of Fort Sanders.
The landscape design incorporated locally available, natural, durable materials that blend into the surrounding landscape while minimizing maintenance and creating a minimal carbon footprint. The parking lot is comprised of previous asphalt which captures and cools stormwater before allowing it to infiltrate the subgrade. Site lighting at the parking area consists of energy efficient LED fixtures with renewable wood bases. A seeded stone aggregate sidewalk guides visitors to a stone trailhead and welcoming area where stacked stone site walls and columns serve as a more formal entrance into the site. A traditional double rail wood fence runs along the primary pathway. This main trail is comprised of small stones matching the aggregate in the sidewalk adjacent to the parking area, while the secondary path is comprised of wood mulch.
As the user continues the journey through the forest, ferns run parallel to a stone seat wall while native rhododendrons and small ornamental trees dot the understory. The health of the forest has been drastically improved from its pre-development state. Since its construction, High Ground Park has become a catalyst for adjacent open space development. Plans are underway to develop other adjacent historic sites and develop additional trail connections along Knoxville’s southern ridge.