Landscape Architect & Specifier News

MAR 2015

LASN is a photographically oriented, professional journal featuring topics of concern and state-of-the-art projects designed or influenced by registered Landscape Architects.

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(Continued on page 24) p l a y g ro u n d 22 Landscape Architect and Specifier News Above On opening day District Heights residents posed for a group picture in front of the motion- activated hollow log gateway sign. The entryway greets children with the musical sounds of nature and even has a misting feature for the summer months. PHOTO CreD iT: Cassie HaDen In District Heights, Md. the 500-acre Walker Mill Regional Park received a new upgraded playground – Woodland Wonderland, after the old one began to exhibit serious site and environmental deficiencies. It was also an opportunity to get current with ADA and playground safety guidelines. Inspired Design The natural setting of the park inspired lead landscape architect, René Albacete to design the 8,200 square foot playground into a "Woodland Wonderland", as it contains numerous large stately trees, which remain from the original farm property use. Once part of a former tobacco plantation, the park maintains its rural character with features such as the historic Concord Manor house, red-roofed outbuildings and barns, farm fields, a fishing pond and an old family cemetery. Diligent measures were taken to save the trees during the design phase. Even the accessible route was re-designed to work with the existing steep slopes and capture the mature "forest-look" of the site. Only native trees were added to the landscape to enhance the site woodland features, including species of Eastern White Pine (Pinus strobus), Eastern Redbud (Cercis canadensis), Shadblow Serviceberry (Amelanchier canadensis), Willow Oak (Quercus phellos), and Red Oak (Quercus rubra). The site is wooded so a limited amount of landscaping was necessary. Landscape plants used throughout the project are low maintenance and emulate the Maryland natural plantings. Two thousand square feet of the playground is designated as a misting zone, which allows for water play during the warm months. When the weather cools down the water is turned off and it reverts to a standard playground. To avoid costly massive re-grading of the site, the playground design was adapted to capitalize on the slopes. The entrance is set high on a woodland knoll, where the new playground is full of delights as you walk through the gates. A motion-activated hollow log gateway greets children with the musical sounds of nature. The accessible walkway leading up to the playground is detailed with colorful spiraling leaf imprints, which replicate the images of the surrounding maple tree habitat in the park. The walkway is an integral part of the play experience that provides both exercise and entertainment for all By rené albacete, Lisa annis, Carol Binns and Brenda iraola Woodland Wonderland, Walker Mill Regional Park, District Heights, Md.

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