Common Ground, this year’s theme for the American Society of Landscape Architects’ (ASLA) 2017 Annual Meeting and EXPO, October 20-23, at the Los Angeles Convention Center in Los Angeles, casts a wide net. As Vaughn Rinner, ASLA president, describes it in an open letter announcing the conference, the theme reflects not only common areas where… Read more »

There is a tendency for society to draw a line between work and play, but for many kids this is simply impossible. Studies suggest that time spent playing outdoors increases educational progress, by improving happiness levels and engagement. This is particularly true for those with ADHD, which the Center for Disease Control and Prevention reports… Read more »

Los Angeles is known for fast cars, great beaches, Hollywood celebrities, and beloved musicians, such as the late-Tom Petty. Its parks and playgrounds may be less front and center in area tour guides, but they are nonetheless among the country’s best. From sculptural designs worthy of the boisterous and daring hand of acclaimed L.A.-based architect… Read more »

The book American Playgrounds: Revitalizing Community Space, by writer and architectural historian Susan Solomon, opens with a scathing—and forcibly blunt—indictment of modern American playgrounds, to wit: “Existing American playgrounds are a disaster.” The picture Solomon paints in the introduction of her 276-page historical review and contemporary playground study is familiar to anyone who has seen the… Read more »

Once in a while, I’ll stumble on an elaborate new play structure that wakes me up to the possibilities of playgrounds. Like a Picasso in a room full of representational still lives, something daring in the design leaps out and demands attention. The Wallholla is one of those arresting structures. It stands nearly three stories… Read more »

It was against the backdrop of the volatile interwar years in Europe that celebrated Danish landscape architect, Carl Theodor Sørensen first conceived of the idea of skrammellegepladsers or, “junk playgrounds”. Observing children playing in junkyards and construction sites, he was struck by the notion that, through a child’s eyes, almost any object could become beautiful… Read more »

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What I remember about elementary school, before spelling bees or Tuesday chicken nuggets, before the school’s beloved art teacher or canine mascot, is the freedom of recess. Fields of blowing dandelion fuzz; daydreaming in the tire pit; playing Four Square. And perhaps, above all, the joy of the swings, the relished feeling of boundlessness wrapped… Read more »

Several weeks ago, I had the pleasure of visiting a stop along The 606 for a family night organized by the Trust for Public Land. The linear park, designed by Michael Van Valkenburgh and Associates, is work of art in its own right, a nearly three-mile-long trail for bikers, runners, and walkers, lined with prairie… Read more »

The past decade has seen a boom in the creation of sculptural parks and public art installations—and the variety is striking. On a large scale, New York’s High Line, a repurposed railroad line 30 feet above Manhattan’s West Side between 10th and 11th Avenues, has featured temporary commissions by Sarah Sze, Kim Beck, Stephen Vitiello… Read more »

Public art plays a crucial role in shaping vibrant and sustainable communities. From mosaics and sculptures to performance art and interventions, public art gives voice to artists across disciplines, while beautifying public spaces and acting as an agent for social change and community revitalization. Cities such as San Francisco, Cambridge, and Chicago recognize the importance… Read more »

What You Need to Know Before Building a Rooftop Playground   When you imagine a playground you’ll commonly think of an open expanse of freshly cut green grass, shiny new playground equipment, and children laughing. That image, while still promising for individuals in rural areas, isn’t viable for many urban environments. Instead of frolicking in… Read more »

In 1947, when the structuralist architect Aldo van Eyck built his first playground in Amsterdam, Dutch cities were in a state of crisis. The city’s infrastructure lay ravaged by World War II, the birth rate was accelerating, and there was little available housing stock. At the time, most existing playgrounds were privately owned and accessible… Read more »