Beale Street Landing
Located on the Mississippi River, the new Beale Street Landing consists of a public park, passenger boat docking facility, and terminal building. A modern, world-class docking facility was needed to better accommodate passenger boat traffic up and down America’s most-used interior waterway. A secondary goal of the design was to create a unique public space and destination linking downtown Memphis to the riverfront and Tom Lee Park, Memphis’ major event and festival venue.
SSR’s role in the project was to provide civil and structural engineering, as well as construction administration. This included requests for information, shop drawings and site visits for both structural and civil services. It was an engineering challenge to battle the mighty Mississippi River. With an average annual fluctuation of 45 feet and daily fluctuations of several feet, waterfront access along the Mississippi River is limited and dangerous. To accommodate the elevation changes, the design team created a 400-foot-long floating dock attached to a five-level helical ramp. To prevent water from being trapped in the steel framing as the ramp is submerged, all of the hollow steel members were filled with expansive foam and the exterior was coated in marine-grade epoxy to prevent corrosion. The helical ramp is a complete steel structure with braced tube column core and hollow structural section to support the walkway extending from the helical ramp to a bridge, which provides access onto the plaza of the terminal building. As the river rises and falls with daily and annual fluctuations, the hydraulic ramp can adjust to the required river water level to allow constant and secure waterfront access.
The fluctuating river also impacted the usability of the riverfront recreational area. Therefore access at any river level was achieved by creating a terraced park with a paved, serpentine walkway to provide ADA accessibility. At high river levels, the sloping grass terraces will be submerged, but the park will remain usable with its two “islands.” Through each challenge, the design team was able to address the needs of the client, create innovative solutions, and ultimately provide the City of Memphis with a beautiful and accessible riverfront amenity.
The quality of life in the City of Memphis is being enhanced with every new project that is constructed for the public. Beale Street Landing is no exception. The addition of a dock providing riverboat loading and unloading will affect the quality of life by bringing more commerce to port. The continual shuffling of new cultures through Beale Street will continue to enhance the cultural diversity of the city. This will enhance the quality of life by allowing all travelers and locals alike to feel a little piece of their home culture in this magnificently diverse and complex structure. Beale Street Landing is not only a park and a dock, but a cultural connection between the river and the people of Memphis.