January 21, 2007

The 100-Year, 5-Min. History Of US/NY Playgrounds

rockwell_burling_slip_nyt.jpg

I know it was a big deal when it was leaked/announced a couple of weeks ago, but the NYT's article about a proposal for the Burling Slip Playground near the South Street Seaport kind of slipped off my radar. Plus, with no set opening date--some reports mentioned 2008 or 2009--I figured there'd be time later to pick back up.

Also, I really don't like David Rockwell, the flashy casino/Nobu/theater designer whose firm contributed the playground design. Cynical New Yorker that I am, I just have to assume that a playground requiring "play workers" to facilitate interactive play and manage a whole shedful of loose toys and manipulatives will be pretty damn conventional as soon as the bubble pops; the only things left to roll will be the play workers' heads.

nyt_nypark_slotted_playgrnd.jpg

All that said, the Times' audio-slideshow feature that walks through 100+ years of the evolution of municipal playgrounds is pretty cool. And as soon as I can track down the designer of this awesome, painted slot-together playset [it was shown, but not discussed, in the "Adventure Play" section], I'll let you know. Any hints?

Can Johnny Come Out And (Be Taught To) Play?
[nyt]
Interactive Feature: Playgrounds Grow Up [nyt]

1 Comment

I'm still bothered by the way that playground design has been ruined by bureaucrats. In making playgrounds less lawsuit-prone (oops, "safer"), it seems like we've stripped most of the fun & learning opportunities out of them too. And by overzealously protecting children, we just might also be hampering their development. Bumps & bruises are natural byproducts of kids trying new stuff & learning new skills.

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