Smith Memorial Playhouse and Playground initiated their Gateway and Northwoods project in June 2016.
Play finds its way into many of our projects, from the Swings at the Rail Park, which demonstrate play in an urban landscape to the play spaces at Smith Memorial, that encourage curiosity and play in nature. Most of our play projects, however, do not employ "playgrounds" in the typical sense. Rather, spaces or elements that are playful. Smith is a good example of an intensive play design that offers an alternative to artificial surfaces and brightly colored plastics, icons to what we typically consider "playgrounds."
Through multiple iterations, the design team and Smith Building Committee have determined the a way to revitalize and extend Smith’s mission to the street as well as build a resource for the surrounding communities. The design suggests a “gateway” fronting Reservoir Drive that immediately invites passers-by to play. Upgrades to the lawn area in front of the historic playhouse include natural play areas that are designated for age-appropriate gross motor functions: splashing, running, climbing, building. Underpinned by a sustainable site design strategy, all the play areas are utilize natural materials. Utilitarian improvements, like safety elements and parking areas along the entry drive were determined by the site’s environmental constraints and similarly use green and natural materials appropriate for stormwater management.
The Smith Memorial Gateway and Natural Play project design team maintains a project- dedicated website. Please check it out to learn more about the design process, community participation, and what’s to come.