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theschoolboards
04-14-2011, 09:38 PM
This from the N.Y. Times (http://www.nytimes.com/2011/04/15/arts/design/extraordinary-playgrounds-in-new-york-city-boroughs.html) by Laurel Graeber:
A BRONZE dragon. Squares that chime underfoot. A gargantuan seesaw that allows a few children to lift many. And water, water everywhere.

Playgrounds just aren’t what they used to be.

So I discovered when visiting 5 of the most unusual among the nearly 1,000 (http://www.nycgovparks.org/sub_about/parks_history/playgrounds.html) in New York City. Every borough has more than one extraordinary play space, and while none I saw had turned on their waterworks yet — fear of frozen pipes — they were ready to welcome children, who will race for the gates after city public schools close Friday afternoon for spring break.

The architect David Rockwell (http://www.rockwellgroup.com/) designed the newest one I explored, Imagination Playground at the South Street Seaport. Years ago he’d bought his children an art table with cubbyholes and drawers, only to have a eureka moment: “I found them playing in the hall with the packing box and the foam.”

Giving children components and letting them decide how to use them became a founding principle of the playground, which opened in July. It offers about 350 large blue foam pieces of interlocking shapes that can inspire railroads, buildings or a “rain house machine,” which two 4-year-olds were constructing one recent drizzly afternoon. “They change the water to sun,” one girl, Natasha Kometz, explained as she installed round “batteries.”

Besides the versatile blocks, “the basic premise of the playground is sand and water and the ability to mix the two,” Mr. Rockwell said. At one end, four tall masts, made by a Maine shipbuilder, anchor a large sand pit. Two of them support a system of pulleys and sacks to ferry sand or toys. The other end includes an amphitheater and a water system; a crow’s-nest echoes the seaport surroundings.

Brooklyn also has an Imagination Playground, but only the name is the same. Conceived by Christian Zimmerman, vice president for design and construction at the Prospect Park Alliance, it celebrates storytelling.

read more>> (http://www.nytimes.com/2011/04/15/arts/design/extraordinary-playgrounds-in-new-york-city-boroughs.html)