Oak Ridge City Center: A 2030 Strategy

A study by Skidmore, Owings & Merrill LLP

Oak Ridge, 2030, seeks to explore ways to accommodate a new generation of housing, build a vibrant, walkable urban district and offer retail, food, entertainment and cultural venues that attract the next generation of Oak Ridgers.

Skidmore Owings & Merrill (SOM) did the original plans for Oak Ridge during the Manhattan Project era. They have recently been studying our city center area through a contract with Oak Ridge National Laboratory, in support of the Governor’s Chair of Excellence in the University of Tennessee College of Architecture and Design. Through ORNL’s generosity, our Community Development Department has worked with SOM staff on exploring possibilities for the city center. This work is being used as major input to the on-going City Blueprint process, which began in 2017.

This report chronicles findings by SOM and provides exciting ideas on what ‘could be’ in the core of Oak Ridge. Although this work by SOM was done independently, and does not represent official City policy at this time, it is very consistent with the work going on via the Blueprint and will show up in recommendations and possible projects that will be adopted as policy within the Blueprint plan.

In a letter sent to Oak Ridge Mayor Warren Gooch in November 2018, Dr. Thomas Zacharia, Director of the Oak Ridge National Laboratory, stated that "the vibrant, livable, mixed-use concepts represented in this report will spur city growth and also enable us to better attract and retain a future workforce that would consider making Oak Ridge their home." Read the entire letter here.

The SOM report is still being reviewed by Oak Ridge City Council and City leadership, the Community Development Department and the Municipal Planning Commission. You can browse the full study below.