Three Small-Scale Public Art Projects with a Big Bang

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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 »

A Place for Public Art

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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 »

Designer Profile – Aldo van Eyck: A Playground for Every Neighborhood

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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 »

Seven Best Waterfront Playgrounds

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For many of us, the allure of a waterfront begins in childhood. We remember gazing out at the waves and brightly colored boats, the piers and jetties that stretch into the water. We carry with us a sense of the infinite, made visible in the vast, unfathomable distances of the sea (or, say, the Great… Read more »

Seven Ways to Incorporate Nature in Playground Design: A Case Study of Indian Boundary Park

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Yesterday, while scrolling through some photos, I came across one that made me smile, a candid shot of my son and his newfound playmate scrambling over riding horse structures at Indian Boundary Park, a 13-acre park in Chicago’s West Ridge neighborhood named for an actual boundary line between the US government and the Pottawattomie Indians…. Read more »

International Garden Festival at Les Jardins de Métis

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In the summer of 1926, Elsie Reford, began transforming her fishing camp on the Metis River into a garden. Located 220 miles north-east of Quebec City, at 48.51º N. latitude, the gardens she created over the next thirty years were the northernmost in the eastern half of North America. Known to some as Les Jardins… Read more »

Designer Profile: Lynn Wolff of Copley Wolff Design Group

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Shortly before they co-founded Copley Wolff Design Group, Lynn Wolff asked John Copley to describe his childhood. They were both teaching at Boston Architecture College at the time, and had a standing Tuesday meeting to discuss their classes and projects. Ms. Wolff’s question wasn’t that unusual. The surprise came, mid-sentence, as Copley was talking about… Read more »

How Indoor Play Areas are Helping to Bring American Malls Back to Life

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To trace the origins of the iconic American shopping mall, one must travel all the way back to the mid-twentieth century. It was in 1956 that Southdale, the first enclosed shopping space in the United States, opened outside of Minneapolis. Over the next fifty years, roughly 1,500 similar structures were built across the country, and… Read more »

Teaching Children the Worth of Water

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They say one never knows the worth of water until the well runs dry. It was on the heels of the most severe drought in recorded history that my family and I recently moved from California to the Pacific Northwest. We’d taught the kids to treat water like gold. We’d kept our fruit trees alive… Read more »

Six Ways Parents Can Support Their Children on the Playground

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Any parent who has ever witnessed a child’s first steps knows what the glow of fresh independence looks like. It is a messy, non-linear process, as the new toddler begins teetering around, falling, and getting up again. As parents, it can be simultaneously splendid and terrifying to watch, and it is a practice they’ll have… Read more »

Designer Profile: Joe Frost, The Contemporary Father of Play Advocacy

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As a child on a small farm in southwestern Arkansas, Joe Frost played with his friends in the foothills of the Ouachita Mountains. He played war and chase, built dams in the stream behind his grade school, and piled on his classmates in a game called “Dog Pile.” He devoured library books, government  pamphlets, comics,… Read more »

Sensory Playgrounds for Children with Autism Spectrum and Sensory Integration Disorders

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The title of Jonathan Safran Foer’s second novel, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, has absolutely nothing to do with playgrounds. But the phrase has stuck with me as an illustration of what it means to be a child, where at times the world can be overwhelming and, frankly, a bit scary. Playgrounds are intended as… Read more »