Ariel view of Enmarket Water works Savannah Goric equipment

- Written by Stefanie Schroeder - filed under Project Feature, Press Release, Design Ideas, Designer Spotlight, Innovative Designs.


And arrangement of purple, green, yellow and blue EPDM balls and half balls on grey tiles.

Creative placemaking in Savannah


Community-Led Change

The term “creative placemaking” might not be part of most people’s everyday vocabulary, but for Erin Wessling, it is an essential component of her work.  Erin serves as the founder and creative director of W Projects in Savannah, GA., a full-service marketing agency that also specializes and acts as consultants in creative placemaking.  Simply put, it is a process that involves community members, artists, cultural organizations and developers to implement community-led change. Recently, she and her team celebrated the completion and grand opening of one such space that is meant to inspire play and artistic expression, featuring Goric’s accessible and dynamic play equipment.

When the city of Savannah was working on the development of the area surrounding Enmarket Arena, there was a plan to create a public use space not only for arena visitors, but for the community. Erin was contracted personally as a consultant and project manager for the area, working with various groups like the City of Savannah, Urban Planning, Traffic & Engineering, and others. The vision was for communal play space; moving forward, it will also serve as an area for ride sharing during arena events.


Exterior image of Enmarket arena with Goric balls and half balls

A dream in construction: a public space with the entire community in mind.


Saying that the city wanted a play space next to an arena might make the project sound simplistic or easy to facilitate.  In reality, there were some challenges the team had to overcome.  Savannah was developing the area for the first time in 50 years, in addition to the fact that it used to be located in an industrial part of town. Timing-wise, the first phase came together in 2022, on the heels of the COVID-19 pandemic, when most of the world (and the supply chain, as the team found out) was just getting back on its feet.  This resulted in the second phase not being completed until 2023.  In the middle of so many unpredictable components, the only natural solution was to start with the basics. Erin and the team decided to take inspiration directly from the city itself.

Bright blue EPDM tiles being laid

Goric’s EPDM tiles – Design elements inspired by the fact that Savannah is very famous for its squares


“We had designed based on the fact that Savannah is very famous for its squares,” Erin explains. “I really wanted to incorporate that, so we came up with a system in phases, where we did rows of those squares, and each of the squares themselves had a different theme and a different color palette. Then they were matched with the [synthetic turf].”  The creative vision was dependent on understanding the terrain. For example, various design elements had to be low height and low fall height because they needed to be placed on asphalt. Additionally, the crew could not infiltrate the ground more than four feet.

Goric’s Product Line Fit the Bill

With a number of parameters in mind, Erin meticulously researched various play equipment companies, eventually finding Goric and all of the equipment and material options they have to offer. Erin not only wanted the social-emotional features that support brain and overall child development, but she wanted to ensure it would be as safe as possible, even looking into the specific rubbers that were available.  With all of this mind, Goric and their product line fit the bill.

Goric’s Curvy Blocks and EPDM Tiles

“I wanted it to be something very interactive, where squares, curved shapes, spheres and all kinds of things acted as both seating and play areas,” Erin said. “Working with Goric, with the designs going through so many iterations because of feedback or additional parameters, they were probably some of the most patient people, always willing to rework or reformat.”

Connecting Savannah’s Community Through Art 

One major theme of the project was flexibility given the various roadblocks, but the team was undeterred and driven by something bigger: purpose.  A major source of inspiration for the park came from Erin’s own love of art and the desire to redefine its place in the community. She and the team spent a lot of time interacting with the surrounding community, communicating with various neighborhoods on the west side of Savannah to seek feedback and share progress.

The community also came together in a big way with the addition of the longest pedestrian walkway mural in the state of Georgia. The walkway will eventually connect to one of the largest trails in Savannah, Tide to Town. Various groups contributed different sections of the artwork, something that Erin says adds value to the space that goes beyond esthetics.

“It’s not just murals on a wall or a sculptural piece, it is actually elements that are meant to be engaged with physically, mentally and emotionally,” she said. “There are very few examples of it, but we’re plugging along and we have ownership of our very own.”

Connection Through Common Spaces Boosts Emotional, Physical, and Mental Health

Keeping the communities connected through common spaces that foster togetherness is something in which Erin believes wholeheartedly. It doesn’t just increase people’s capacity to interact, but boosts their emotional, physical and mental health.  “We do need to have the health, wellness, and investment of the people at the top of mind,” she said. “It’s one of the best assets that a city or town or community can have, because of the ripple effect that it will inevitably have. It’s starting in small waves throughout the U.S.”

Goric’s customizable Whirlwind


She has personally seen the importance of cultural investment into public spaces in other cities around the world. When she traveled to Warsaw, Poland, she learned that investing in an undeveloped area next to its riverside not only impacted the community but led to a dramatic increase in tourism. She hopes that there is a similarly positive result in the ways Savannah is growing.

For now, she is able to revel in the specific memory of the first time she watched a school bus full of children run toward the space next to Enmarket Arena.  “All of these kids just started running across this bridge and ran directly to the play area. It was the first time I’d ever seen kids interact in that space and I was like, this is why you’re doing what you’re doing. If you build it, I promise they will come.”