Posts tagged with "Playgrounds":

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Ride this gigantic slide at a Miami mall

What's more fun than a slide? Nothing, except for maybe a supersized version of the playground standby.

Visitors to Miami's Aventura Mall get to ride exactly that. Designed by Belgian artist Carsten Höller, the 93-foot-tall pair of double-barreled slides run clockwise-counterclockwise, and can be ridden solo or with a buddy. Visitors ascend a spiral staircase to reach the top of the slippery titanium steel slides, which whisk riders away at dizzying speeds, up to 15 miles per hour. With their industrial finish and slightly goofy steampunk massing, the slides look less Miami, more City Museum—but a whole lot of fun nevertheless.

The slide-sculpture, officially Aventura Slide Tower, is part of the Aventura Mall's recent expansion, a three-level indoor-outdoor space designed around experiential art from the likes of Louise Bourgeois, Jorge Pardo, Ugo Rondinone, and others.

Mall-goers shared their reactions to the mega-slide on Instagram. Here's a real-time ride:

Höller, along with his friend Chloë Sevigny, glided down the tubes this weekend, too:
Happy reacts only:

And the winner is.... @baby_seal777 #carstenholler #adventuraslidetower #badseed

A post shared by amandaseason (@amandaseason) on

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Verner Panton–inspired playground coming to Fort Lauderdale airport

This article appears in The Architect’s Newspaper’s April 2017 issue, which takes a deep dive into Florida to coincide with the upcoming AIA Conference on Architecture in Orlando (April 27 to 29). We’re publishing the issue online as the Conference approaches—click here to see the latest articles to be uploaded.

Work on a $295 million modernization plan for the Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport’s Terminal 1 by multiservice firm Gresham, Smith and Partners is nearly complete. The refresh, part of a slate of upgrades that will transform the regional airport into an international and domestic hub, will also host a 2,000-square-foot art installation and playground designed by architect Volkan Alkanoglu.

Alkanoglu’s Cloud Scape, commissioned by the Broward County Board of County Commissioners’ Cultural Division and located along a mezzanine level adjacent to one of the terminal’s busy ambulatories, is “inspired by the idea of aviation and literally translates it into a physical environment at the terminal” Alkanoglu explained. The playscape—made up of four discrete structures arranged linearly in a sky-blue-painted room—evokes the larger-than-life cumulus clouds one sees from an airborne plane and is, according to the architect, partially inspired by 1970s visionary designer Verner Panton’s Visona 2 installation, a “fantasy landscape” made up of a series of extruded, occupiable shapes.

Functionally, the caricatured shapes are designed to facilitate movement and play: They feature slides, portholes, and climbable surfaces all scaled to tot dimensions. The structures are for “playing in the clouds,” the designer explained. “Before you take off or after you land, you have the ability to immerse into this landscape of clouds.” Each is also designed to facilitate a different type of diversion. One takes the shape of a large donut, with a bubbly hole cut out of its center. Another is deconstructed, with each of the three constituent cloud profiles separated out to create a sitting shelf, another donut-hole-penetrated mass, and a small slide. The third is made up of cloud-shaped wedges that come together in a tight corner. And the fourth structure is more solid, with supple climbing surfaces, a rounded-step ramp, and another tunnel.

Of particular concern for Alkanoglu were the strict fire- and life-safety codes the project had to meet due to its airport setting and the fragile nature of its fledgling users. The structures are built out of Fire 1–rated Medite, a type of medium-density fiberboard, painted in white automotive paint and finished in clear polyurethane. Regulations by the National Recreation and Park Association also played a role in the design, dictating the spacing—six feet—between the structures as well as the detailing for various edge and corner conditions. Everything sits atop light- and dark-blue colored rubber flooring.

The project, currently in the permitting stages, will be fabricated by Indianapolis-based Ignition Arts and is expected to be complete May 2017.

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The unknown story of New York City’s brutalist playgrounds, as told by artist Julia Jacquette

The idea of concrete being the dominant material for a children's play area seems bizarre today. What about the grazed elbows and knees and scratched palms? What if, God forbid, someone hits their head?! In 1970s New York, however, it worked: Artist Julia Jacquette recalls the concrete playscapes built during one of the city's most socially turbulent eras in her new book, Playground of My Mind. A combination of personal memoir, playground design guide, graphic novel, and story of New York's modernist architectural scene, laced with snippets of feminist ambition, Playground of My Mind is narrated retrospectively by Jacquette, who illustrated the book with her own distinctive graphic style. It starts by plunging you into the depths of Columbus Park Towers, a confusingly named, singular high-rise apartment block on West 94th Street. It's here, in the tower block's basement, where Jacquette's interested in playgrounds started. Described as a "city within a city," Jacquette uses the now-demolished play area, designed by landscape architect M. Paul Friedberg, as a springboard to illustrate the egalitarian principles found in modernist architecture and recount how such design influenced her. Another example is the Adventure Playground, found in Central Park and designed by architect Richard Dattner. Emphatically, Jacquette states: "Much of the Adventure Playground was made with poured concrete aggregate: CONCRETE WITH PEBBLES IN IT." Jacquette touches on more design details as she chronicles her experiences, which include playgrounds by Aldo van Eyck in Amsterdam, where her childhood is also rooted. She portrays these play areas as a reaction to the out-dated, one-dimensional curated fun prescribed by former NYC Parks Commissioner and Chairman, Robert Moses. In Moses's parks, objects encouraged limited means of interaction, and were, as critic Phineas Harper described, "modeled on Victorian notions of character-building gymnastic exertion." Swings were for swinging in, see-saws were essentially the same (just more wooden in every sense of the word), and you slid down slides. Jacquette's account of these play areas may be useful today as Harper described contemporary playgrounds as "totally prescriptive," citing researcher David Ball who found that the commonly deployed rubber "safety surfacing" has a negligible impact on children's' safety. Instead, Jacquette prefers playgrounds that encourage inventive ways of using and navigating them; places where fun is free to be had and above all interpretive: A hollowed, spiraling mound could be a mountain, volcano, castle or river, while at the same time referencing ancient architecture such as Roman amphitheaters and Egyptian pyramids. The author's illustrations complement this personal narrative, playing with scale in a similar fashion to the featured playgrounds. This is supplemented by text design and layout consultant, Cathleen Owens's meandering arrangement of text that weaves through the book, working its way around the axonometric, plan and graphic drawings that fill every page. Her father an architect and mother a stylish librarian, Jacquette ascribes the unified aesthetic vocabulary that played a big part in her childhood to her making today, drawing on memories such as: the clothing worn by her mother who confidently strode around gritty New York; Manhattan movie theaters; playgrounds in the Netherlands and parks designed by her father. Today, Columbus Park Tower sits atop a cleaners, cafe, boutique, cobblers, bar and two restaurants and is engulfed by residential high-rises lining Columbus avenue. It's cream colored (originally white) balconies which Jacquette mentions protrude out and contrast against its aged (but not damaged) brickwork. They amplify the linear orderliness of the facade—an aesthetic retained today. Look north and there are newer, modern, high-end apartments. The area is a far cry from the rough-and-tumble neighborhood that Jacquette grew up in, but the bold spirit of the place evidently lives on in her work. Playground of My Mind was published by Prestel in conjunction with the Wellin Museum of Art, where a mid-survey exhibition of Jacquette is currently on show, located on the campus of Hamilton College. Julia Jacquette: Unrequited and Acts of Play looks at the theme of identity through the nostalgic lens used in Playground of My Mind. The exhibition is on view through July 2, 2017, and an abridged version of the show will travel to the Visual Arts Center of New Jersey in Summit, New Jersey, where it will be on view from September 24, 2017, through January 14, 2018. Playground of My Mind Prestel, $49.95
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Pop-up playground design lets you decide what you’re playing

When space to play is hard to come by, there isn't always room for multiple recreational activities like soccer and basketball. In Seoul, South Korea, designated recreational areas have to be booked up to two months in advance. Of course, as most children will gladly inform you, any space can be played in so long as there is a ball. Abiding by this ethos, B.U.S. Architecture from Seoul has designed the "Undefined Playground," a transportable and transformable sports pavilion. Offering tennis, soccer, basketball, and "flying disc" configurations, the foldable structure is set on wheels, which allows it to be rolled onto any hard surface. When folded accordingly, goal posts for soccer can be revealed, as can basketball hoops and a tennis wall. The pentagonal, steel frame features wood panelling, rises to 12 feet, and occupies 158 square feet. When fully open, a hammock (formed from nets) stretches out within the structure. Additionally, space for storage and a snack bar—which can serve as a ticket booth—make it a versatile recreation utility for dense urban environments.
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Nine finalists selected for Philadelphia competition to re-imagine cities through play spaces

The Community Design Collaborative (CDC), in partnership with the Delaware Valley Association for the Education of Young Children (DVAEYC), has selected nine finalists for Play Space, a design competition that challenged designers to create spaces for play at a library, a school, and a recreation center in Philadelphia. Play Space explored how good design encourages early childhood development and the success of communities on the whole. The two-year initiative is part of CDC's Infill Philadelphia, a program that uses architecture and design to confront community development challenges in Philadelphia and elsewhere. “The power of play space in the community and its impact on early childhood development is becoming an issue that is facing all cities in the U.S., and for that matter, around the globe,” Beth Miller, executive director of the Community Design Collaborative, said in a statement. “We are thrilled that teams from around the world chose to tackle our design challenge in Philadelphia, bringing different perspectives but working toward the same goal of improving the quality of life for individuals and families.” Three teams were selected for each competition location. Those nine teams will be vetted again: once by the community and again by the jury at an exhibition in mid-March. In all, 40 teams from five countries and 11 U.S. states applied to be considered. Take a look below at the three sites and nine finalists: Site: Blanche A. Nixon/Cobbs Creek Branch Library Neighborhood Playbook (Philadelphia) Team Members: SALT Design Studio (lead), CH2M HILL, the City University of New York, Ian Smith Design Group, It's All Made Up, Kirk Fromm, design + illustration, PlayHarvest, and SS | Design Details. Nixon Park (Atlanta) Team Members: TSW (lead) and Wesleyan School. [Pictured at top] Play Structure | Story Structure (Philadelphia) Team Members: Ground Reconsidered Landscape Architecture (lead), Designed For Fun, Friends Select School, J R Keller LLC Creative Partnerships, Meliora Environmental Design LLC, and The Parent-Infant Center. Site: Waterloo Recreation Center Community Gifts (Guelph, Ontario, Canada) Team Members: Shift Landscape Architecture (lead) and Strathcona-Tweedsmuir School. Reclaiming Recreation (Philadelphia, PA)  Team Members: Ramla Benaissa Architects (lead), Elwyn, and Maser Consulting P.A. Waterloo Rebosante (Philadelphia) Team Members: Roofmeadow and StudioLudo (co-leads) and Space for Childhood. Site: Haverford Bright Futures Bright Futures Chutes and Ladders (Philadelphia) Team Members: Meliora Environmental Design (lead), Atkin Olshin Schade Architects, International Consultants, The Parent-Infant Center, and Viridian Landscape Studio. Co-Play at Haverford Bright Futures (Chicago) Team Members: Terry Guen Design Associates (lead), CITYPLAY, Philly Art Center, and Roots First. Embrace Past Present and Future (Beijing, China) Team Members: Studio of Instinct Fabrication (lead) and Red Sun Kindergarten.
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Obit> Dr. Alan Friedman, 1942-2014

We love all of our clients equally… but Dr. Alan Friedman we really, really loved. We should all be so fortunate as to work with someone as generous, curious, optimistic yet not unrealistic, trusting, and somehow always fun. BKSK worked with him on two ambitious permanent outdoor exhibits (collectively the NY Hall of Science Playground) approximately ten years apart, and in between were tapped for various smaller tasks. So lightning, for us, struck more than once. The beginning of any project was, following that metaphor, electrifying. His spark of inspiration for the first playground came on a trip to India, where he found an exhibit harnessing children’s full body play to demonstrate principles of physics. He envisioned it on a park-sized scale and empowered our team (Ivan & Jane Chermayeff, Lee Weintraub, Mattyias Levy, and Tian Fang Jing from Weidlinger Associates, among others) to engage in extreme brainstorming. His questions all involved content—“What does it teach? How can it engage a group of participants?” At his urging, our projects embraced the sun, sounds, water, and wind of the museum’s Flushing Meadow site. We feel sure that the other architects he engaged as the Hall of Science grew, including Ennead (then Polshek & Partners) and Beyer Blinder Belle, would say the same: that Alan was a tireless source of, and promoter of, ideas. Above all, he wanted us to make spaces that were themselves teaching tools. Under his guidance, the process of design itself was a full body and full mind experience, filled with surprise and delight. Joan Krevlin is a partner at BKSK Architects in New York City.  
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Dutch Artist Imagines a Playground Rooted in Used Tires

Of the 85 proposals submitted to a playground design competition hosted by Go Play!, few were as innovative as AnneMarie van Splunter's RubberTree, which landed an honorable mention. The Dutch designer's imaginative reuse of old car and motorcycle tires recalls the simplicity of children playing around a tree, inspired, in fact, by the rubber tree and its heavily exposed root system. Van Splunter sought to create a place where refugee children on the border of Burma and Thailand can be "rooted in solid ground." Proposals were asked to focus on elements including buildability, innovation, and overall design. RubberTree's proposed locally-sourced structural-bamboo armature was hoped to increase affordability and provide for local construction. An unnamed engineer purports that the entire structure could be built without the use of metal, allowing the tree to be built with local labor. However, the material life-spans of bamboo, rope, and tires in a tropical climate could lead to breakdown and potential safety hazards over time. While more expensive, steel would be a more ideal material in terms of safety. Safety issues aside, the innovative design demonstrates a novel method of reusing old tires and an inspiring reclamation of material. While the project won't be built as part of the competition, Van Splunter has reportedly received interest from her native Netherlands to build RubberTree, where a cooler climate and a steel structure could make the playground a reality. [Via Treehugger]
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Rockwell makes a ruckus at Imagination Playground

“It doesn’t seem like it, but everything connects with each one perfectly,” said Gabrielle Sunderland, 12, squinting happily toward the hot July sun. Around her were piles of weather- and germ-resistant foam blocks in sundry shapes and sizes. The blue pieces are the signature element of David Rockwell’s Imagination Playground, which opened Tuesday on Burling Slip near the South Street Seaport. A designer of theaters, high-end restaurants, and Broadway stage sets, Rockwell found his own children bored by the playgrounds of Lower Manhattan. So he set out to create a playspace where kids could use their own imagination, just as he once did. “Playgrounds are the places where kids can learn how to be a community and create their own worlds, but the ones we visited were all too linear,” he told AN at the opening. “That gave me the idea of a different kind of playground.” Gabrielle and her friend Ajda Celebi, 10, were industriously showing off Rockwell’s central strategy: providing kids with loose pieces that promote unstructured play. The girls set two rectangular blocks together with a noodle on the side and a ball on top, creating something like a giant teapot. They liked the fact that the playground allows them to make structures entirely “out of your own creativity,” as Ajda put it. The project got its start after Rockwell persuaded Parks Commissioner Adrian Benepe with a drawing on a lunch napkin, and then spent five years researching progressive learning theory and child development. He also helped round up funds for the $7.5 million project, which included a $4.5 million grant from the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation and $3 million from the New York City Department of Environmental Protection for the relocation of two water mains and a sewer line into the adjacent street. Rockwell also teamed with nonprofit playground designer KaBOOM! and together they developed Imagination Playground in smaller portable versions, tested and tweaked after trial tours in Washington, D.C., New Orleans, Miami, and New York. But the first permanent site for the concept is designed pro-bono on a former parking lot at Burling Slip. Comprised of a large multi-level deck in the shape of a swooping figure eight of reclaimed Indonesian teak, the new playground is essentially an empty space for the array of 350 props. Situated in a landmark district, the landscape does include some features that recall the surrounding area’s nautical past, including reused benches from Coney Island, barrels, and burlap bags. The west end is the sand pit, consisting of sloping wooden ramps and four wooden masts made by a shipbuilder, each connected by ropes and pulleys. In the center stands a crow’s nest atop a red, circular structure housing bathrooms and a storage space for the blocks. At the east end, a rounded amphitheater for storytelling overlooks an ankle-deep pool with pipes and canals that enable the control of cascading water. A staff of city workers trained as “play associates” oversees the action, as with all Imagination Playgrounds. According to Benepe, Burling Slip is the start of a new era of New York City playgrounds, where Rockwell’s sponges will replace worn-out monkey bars, swings, and jungle gyms. “The next step is to look at playgrounds that are underperforming and need renovation in central Brooklyn and the South Bronx, and apply the concept,” he told AN, adding that these might come with a different set of materials. “Here we had a flexible budget, but we could take a traditional Parks Department playground budget, and use these approaches.” For his part, Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg described the project as a tremendous success. “It is always amazing to see what children choose to create when they are fully using their imagination,” he declared. As for the little pirates, they too gave the playspace top grade. “It’s all big and blue and bendy,” Gabrielle said, while balancing a cog on top of a cube tower. “It’s a lot of fun!” And Ajda added, “The new West Thames playground where I live is really cool, but this one is more fun, because you can do anything here.” With that, she eagerly returned to helping the other kids dam a cascading water flow in the pool area. To everyone’s joy, the jets of water created unexpected rainbows against the blue afternoon sky.
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Mess With the Imagination (Playground) of David Rockwell

For the past few years, David Rockwell, that master of stage and scene, has been developing the Imagination Playground, a deployable playground-in-a-box that has been finding its way across the country. Now, he is just finishing a larger playground, sort of a showcase for the concept, at Burling Slip in Lower Manhattan. (As the rendering after the jump shows, it's quite literally a flagship.) To celebrate the opening of the new playground at the end of July, the Parks Department is taking imagination playgrounds on a pop-up tour, which kicked off this past weekend in Staten Island, with stops in all five boroughs to follow. It truly is a revolutionary concept in recreation, though not the first, as we've chronicled. In the current issue of New York, Justin Davidson even gives us the best 19 in the city, yet another mind of the parks renaissance currently taking place in New York.