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Rome Town Green + Riverfront
Prime Consultant: Jacobs Engineering Group, Atlanta (Landscape Architecture and Civil Engineering)


The Rome, Georgia Riverfront Plaza is butressed by a series of tiered brick retaining walls, and sheetpile walls. The access walk is paved with pervious concrete pavers. The convention center's parking deck (right) was veneered in brick to enhance the facade.


The Rome Town Green is nestled between The Forum Civic Center (the brick building), the city's convention venue and multipurpose arena, and the Forum parking deck, from which the photo was taken. This image of the Town Green shows the event lawn, the central splash pad fountains, the pedestal water features and rain garden, but not the Ellen Axson Wilson statue that was later commissioned (see p. 66).

The city of Rome, Georgia was founded at the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains at the confluence of three important southeastern rivers: the Oostanaula, the Etowah and the Coosa. Prior to European settlement, this area was long occupied by the Creek and later the Cherokee people. After the passage of Indian Removal Acts in 1830, the area was opened to settlement by the state of Georgia. Situated on seven hills surrounded by rivers, the founding community members named the city after the iconic Italian capital. Rome, Ga., eventually grew into a major antebellum cotton trading and manufacturing center, and became occupied by Union forces during the Civil War. Over time, Rome has become a regional trading, medical and education center. Rome is the county seat of Floyd County and the largest city (pop. 36,303) in northwest Georgia, about 70 miles northwest of Atlanta.



Redevelopment of San Francisco's Joe DiMaggio he landscape architects developed three 'spring pedestal' fountains, each representing one of the three converging rivers in Rome, Ga.: the Oostanaula, the Etowah and the Coosa. Each pedestal is marked with the English name of one of the rivers and the Cherokee equivalent. Native grasses and boulders encompass each fountain, with mounded adjacent lawns representing the seven hills that gave Rome, Georgia its name.


The John Ross Memorial Bridge brings walkers on the Heritage Trail across the Oostanaula River to Riverfront Plaza, the Town Green and The Forum convention center.

During Rome's development its riverfront was industrial in nature. By the end of the 20th century, the riverfront lacked amenities, greenspace, gathering places and an overall ambience to match the draw of its famed downtown area on Broad Street. In 1990, the city of Rome and Floyd County developed a multiuse government and event center on the Oostanaula riverfront called The Forum. While it created a venue for downtown activity, the development lacked access to the river. Furthermore, most site improvements were limited to the addition of parking lots. The city considered the rivers important amenities and sought a consultant to develop a master plan to guide improvements along the riverfront.

Over the course of nine years the Atlanta office of Jacobs' Advance Planning Group led the master plan and directed the design of all improvement projects. Project manager Brad Jones, PLA, ASLA, now a senior project manager with Pond & Company, led the project for Jacobs as lead consultant. The master plan, which included many critical components, steered parking and hotel development away from the Town Green. As not to conflict with river views from the Town Green, the planned site for a pedestrian bridge was relocated.



Redevelopment of San Francisco's The stairs up from the Riverwalk brings you to a plaza, the eastern terminus of the John Ross Pedestrian Bridge (left). The plaza presents a bronze statue of Ellen Axson Wilson (1860-1914), President Woodrow Wilson's first wife and native of Rome, Ga. The statue was commissioned by the Rome Area Council for the Arts and designed by Arizona artist Stephanie Hunter.


The new boardwalk under the Fifth Avenue Bridge, is another link of the Heritage Trail to the Rome Riverfront.

Over the course of nine years the Atlanta office of Jacobs' Advance Planning Group led the master plan and directed the design of all improvement projects. Project manager Brad Jones, PLA, ASLA, now a senior project manager with Pond & Company, led the project for Jacobs as lead consultant. The master plan, which included many critical components, steered parking and hotel development away from the Town Green. As not to conflict with river views from the Town Green, the planned site for a pedestrian bridge was relocated.

Following the completion of the master plan, the city used local funding to construct its major components, including the Town Green, a parking deck and an urban plaza in the place of an existing surface parking lot next to The Forum. A true social center and grand public space, the Town Green features interactive fountains, an event lawn, a rain garden and other passive elements. The fountain, accompanied by interpretive kiosks, represents three springs that become the city's three rivers. Members of the Cherokee Nation in Oklahoma were consulted to best approximate the Cherokee names of each river. These names are represented in the Cherokee alphabet. Hardscape treatments included concrete with exposed aggregate finish, colored concrete and pavers. To help filter first flush storm water from the top level of the deck and to prevent direct runoff into the river, a rain garden was incorporated in conjunction with the parking deck development.


The Town Green is surrounded with swing benches, provided by Wabash Valley and customized with rough carpentry.


Viewed from Broad Street, the Town Greens entry plaza and fountain are located on axis with Third Avenue. The relocated drop-off for The Forum is located at West First Street, between the Town Green and Broad Street.

Through the Georgia Department of Transportation, the Federal Transportation Enhancement Program partially funded pedestrian enhancements along the bank of the Oostanaula River. The project included a series of brick retaining walls, a grand staircase, a sheet pile wall system and a boat dock. From downtown Rome to the Oostanaula River, an access was designed to enhance views and to serve as a major gateway. This gateway symbolically linked historic Broad Street to the river through a pedestrian-scaled greenspace, complete with an esplanade of benches, native landscaping and ornamental lighting. In addition, a pedestrian boardwalk was designed to pass under the Fifth Avenue Bridge. This trail link connected pedestrians to Rome's Heritage Trail system without requiring a crossing of a vehicular roadway.

By celebrating the meeting place of Rome's three historic rivers, the Rome Town Green and Riverfront bring the people of Rome closer to their history. The site is a center for recreation, events and community activities that add to the quality of life for Rome's citizens and the citizens of northwest Georgia.



The Town Green is lined with native trees, including 'Overcup' oak, 'Princeton' elms American hornbeam. The brick veneered building is the parking structure for The Forum and the Town Green. The jets of the centerpiece splash pad (supplied by Roman Fountains) can shoot water as high as 30 feet.

Prime Consultant: Jacobs Engineering Group, Atlanta (Landscape Architect and Civil Engineer)

Subconsultants Electrical Engineer: Womack and Associates, Atlanta
Geotechnical Consultant: GeoHydro Engineers and NOVA Engineering, Atlanta
Irrigation Consultant: Irrigation Consultant Services, Conyers, Ga.
Structural Engineer: KSi Structural Engineers, Atlanta

Contractor: Town Green: RJ Griffin, Atlanta; Riverfront: ASTRA Group, Woodstock, Ga.

Suppliers and Products:
Boat Dock: Gator Dock by Crane Materials, Inc.
Brick: Cherokee Brick, Atlanta
Paving: Arbelstone, Dublin Cobble and Holland Stone pavers
Pedestrian Lighting: BK Lighting
Site Furnishings: Fabco Fabrications, Cave Spring, Ga.; Victor Stanley, Inc.
Water Features: Roman Fountains, Inc.

Carpinus caroliniana
Ulmus americana 'Princeton'
Chionanthus virginicus
Taxodium distichum 'Autumn Gold'
Amelanchier x grandiflora 'Autumn Brilliance'
Nyssa sylvatica
Quercus lyrata 'Highbeam'
Clethra alnifolia 'Pink Spires'
Muhlenbergia capillaris
Liriope muscari 'Big Blue'
Panicum virgatum 'Heavy Metal'
Lagerstroemia 'Snow Dazzle'
Itea virginiana 'Little Henry'
Chasmanthium latifolium
Hypericum calycinum 'Stardust'

Project Purpose, Scope, Philosophy, and Intent
Create a riverfront park overlooking the Oostanaula River which facilitates pedestrian access to the historic downtown district and other community facilities.
Project demonstrates a range of landscape architecture professional services: concept planning, site engineering, permitting and full-time construction administration services. The project involves the creation of a downtown urban gathering space with access to the riverfront.
Improve the Heritage Riverways Trail by building an underpass at Fifth Avenue that separates pedestrian and vehicular traffic.
Provide boat access to the Oostanaula River.
Incorporate an interactive water feature representing the three rivers that meet in downtown Rome.
Include passive park amenities: swing benches, bike repair stations, pedestrian lighting, seating and game tables.
In collaboration with the client, native leaf patterns were incorporated into the paving, including the rare endemic Hawthorn (Crataegus tristis), only found in Rome, Ga.
Rain garden handles stormwater from parking deck to reduce direct runoff into the river.

Role of the Landscape Architect
The landscape architect as the prime consultant prepared the master plan, establish phasing, develop construction documents, permit plans, performed daily construction observation, and coordinated the subcontracted disciplines for environmental permitting, civil, structural, electrical engineering, surveying and construction administration.

Special factors, Unusual Factors
Site was built on landfill material used to raise the topography of the downtown area in the 19th century. Various areas of unsuitable material required adjustments to the footing design and other contingencies.
The park (and the downtown) is in the floodplain of the Oostanaula River, which has a 15 foot variation in flood elevations at the sheet piling along the riverbank. This required coordination with FEMA.

Significance of the Project
This project created downtown Rome's first designed public space not occupied by public buildings. The Town Green has become the local identifier in promotional materials, high school graduations, weddings, concerts, conventions and events. The space now connects the historic downtown to ongoing redevelopment across the river (spurred by the Town Green project) and serves as the center of the city's Heritage Trail system.

As seen in LASN magazine, March 2018.

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