Designing The Playground of The Future With Kids & Creativity in Mind

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

The Imagination Playground. (The Rockwell Group)

What comes to mind when we think about the way kids used to play outdoors?

Wooden see-saws that could launch your friend seven feet high, towering metal slides that would spit you out onto fiery concrete, and who could forget the witch's hat—that cone-like wonder of metal that physically enforced the social hierarchy and taught kids the fun of G-Forces all with just a few fast spins.

But playgrounds are much safer, and much calmer in today's age of concerned parents and lawsuit-fearing school districts. When kids want to play outside, their options are sometimes limited.

David Rockwell, architect, designer, and founder of The Rockwell Group, is also the brains behind "Imagination Playgrounds" in New York City that have creative risk built into their design. He weighs in on the future of modern playgrounds.


David Rockwell

Produced by:

Ellen Frankman


T.J. Raphael

Comments [6]

Jen from Palisades

We moved our daughter to a preschool that provided kids with two hours of unstructured outdoor play year-round (in northern NJ)...they built with rocks, made muddy rivers, climbed trees and played in the sun, rain and snow. Since then, we found a summer camp that offers a very similar experience--a wonderful, much-anticipated antidote to just 20 minutes of daily recess during the school day.

Jul. 23 2014 04:02 PM
gene from NYC

I just saw the best children's playground in Wash. Sq. Park.

They repurposed the old, battered asphalt mounds--they covered them in green astroturf. Just 3 green mounds.

As the moms sat and watched from atop the tallest mound, all the kids running around on them had ecstatic smiles on their faces.

Jul. 23 2014 03:57 PM
Jerry from Maui

We live on maui. Surf, paddle, bike, whale watch. Only fear is the occasional dhark attack. ;-)

Jul. 23 2014 03:53 PM
Larry Fisher from Brooklyn, N.Y.

The other day my kids were hitting each other in the head with their metal water bottles. They both were complaining to me about each others behavior. I told them they can continue hitting each other as long as they had water in the bottles to wash off their blood. They both stopped on their own.

I let my kids figure stuff out for themselves and whether they want to go to an ER visit is up to them. They are not allowed in the house when it is nice out.

Jul. 23 2014 01:18 PM
Heather from Parkdale, Oregon

I am a single mom. My kids and I live in a neighborhood full of kids in a small town of Parkdale. All the parents let their kids out to play outside, all kids answer to all parents, and the kids collaboratively, creatively play creating cardboard arcades, lemonade stands, forts, bicycle riding. It means that I have more of a mess in my yard, I am sometimes making lemonade on cue, or supervising science experiments. It also means I am home during the day, or another parent is. Todays' economy seems to require both parents to work, so instead of being home, they are putting kids in day camps, structured experiences or daycare.

We have cut out all structured activities this summer, I work nights and hours my kids are with their dad, and we have very full outside play days.

Jul. 23 2014 12:56 PM
Mr. Wakiki from Saranac Lake, NY

I don't see where to put this...

But on the topic of going outside.... Kids are missing a great opportunity to have a wonderful childhood. It is said with all the outdoors to do in the Adirondacks --- that so few do.

Jul. 23 2014 10:02 AM

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