At a community meeting held Thursday night, representatives from the Parks Department and Spurr Design Studio presented further revisions to the design for the playground at Fallon Field. The changes since the previous presentation are significant, and include several updates that are closely aligned with suggestions made by the community during and after the last community meeting. Download the presentation from the meeting here, or keep reading for an overview of the new design.
(Click on the image to see a larger version)
As with the previous designs, this plan dramatically expands the playground’s footprint, extending it well down the hill towards South Street. Significant features of the design include the water spray area, a large climbing structure with a slide, a young children’s play area, and the “bowl”, the lower tier of the playground featuring several pieces of play equipment. The hill itself is a major component of the design. The site survey revealed that the slope gains 12 feet of elevation in just 100 feet of horizontal distance. As a result, the main slope separating the two tiers of the playground now spans an 8 foot elevation change at its highest point.
The centerpiece of this new design is a large climbing structure located at the top of the slope. The base of this structure is a climbing net that will provide a challenge even to older children, while giving younger children a goal to work up to. At the top of this structure is a “sky cabin”, from which a slide will run all the way to the bottom tier of the playground.
Between the height of the structure and the elevation difference between the playground’s two tiers, this slide is likely to cover a vertical distance of 25 feet or more, making it one of the tallest slides in the Boston area.
The Young Children’s Area
Spanning the shorter side of the slope is an area designed for younger children’s play. This area features a playhouse, a timber scramble, an extra wide slide, a grassy slope, and climbing handholds. The ground cover here will likely be designed to allow for tactile play. This area will be separated from the large climbing structure by an archway that promises to bring a striking visual component to the park.
The lower tier of the playground, or the bowl, is the site for several of the more traditional play elements in the park, including a solo spinner, a group spinner, and three types of swings (belt, bucket, and basket). While none of this equipment is revolutionary, it was clear from community input that swings are a high priority and that their inclusion in the design will be appreciated. The group spinner will be designed to accommodate a wide range of ages in collaborative play, and its prominent position near the center of the playground should encourage children of all ages to use it.
The Spray Deck
The spray deck is largely unchanged from the previous design. It is located on the western end of the playground, near the hockey rink and Walworth Street. The barrier between the splash area and the walkway encircling the playground will consist mostly of boulders; some of these boulders will be positioned to create a stairway entrance.
Other Design Notes
The design uses large, brightly colored metal poles along its eastern and southern edges to create an unusual environment for imaginative play as well as a visual barrier between the playground and the adjacent tennis court and hockey rink. The bright color of the urban maze (shown as yellow in the design concepts and red in the photo below) will be used throughout the playground as a unifying theme.
Seating and Other Features for Parents and Guardians
The perimeter of the playground features picnic tables and cafe tables in several locations, and even has a few chaise longue chairs built into the design near the swing sets. In the center of the play area, the stadium seating will use multiple riser heights to accommodate both adults and children while also providing a staircase for traversing the playground’s slope.
Fencing and Walls
Unlike the current playground, the enclosures in this design include retaining walls, a timber walkway, brightly colored steel fencing, and more traditional fences. The walls and fences separate distinct areas within the playground while also adding both play value and visual interest to the design.
To get a better feel for several of the design elements, the presentation included several images showing the team’s design inspirations.
The Parks Department now expects to solicit bids for the project over the winter, and begin construction in the early spring. Typically construction takes 120 days to reach substantial completion, at which point the park reopens, then another 30 days until final completion. So while the current playground will remain open into the fall, we expect that the renovated playground will not be available until early summer 2016 at the earliest.
There is an awful lot to like about this design. It brings forward the most compelling feature of the previous plan – the spray deck – and adds a second main play element that is likely to become a signature feature for the park. The bowl area provides a nice collection of fairly traditional play features, while the perimeter of the park will provide more opportunities for nontraditional play. The play features have been chosen to engage and challenge children across a wide range of ages. The main climbing structure should be irresistible to older children, and conquering it will provide a tantalizing goal for younger children learning to expand their horizons. In short, this design shows tremendous attention to fun, challenge, and aesthetics. When it opens, we expect that Roslindale will finally be able to say that it features one of the best playgrounds in Boston.