Landscape Architect & Specifier News

JUL 2014

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 22) p l a y g ro u n d 20 Landscape Architect and Specifier News Above A recent effort by the Chicago Park District revitalized small recreational spaces in the Windy City, including the .22-acre Mellin Park (pictured) in the Edgewater neighborhood on the city's north side. Play features include swings (right), a slide, an Evos climbing structure and a saddle spinner (Landscape Structures). The structures replaced a wooden platform and play area with mulch surfacing that did not meet ADA requirements and required continuous maintenance. In 2012, the Chicago Park District recruited site design group, ltd., to design renovations to existing park playgrounds on Chicago's north and northwest sides. Located only miles from each other, the projects, which included Mellin and Merryman parks, were bid as one design and construction package. The existing parks represented an ongoing problem with many urban play areas; they were not maintained over the years, and contained degraded and outdated equipment that did not meet current safety and accessibility guidelines. Each park went through a community process to help define play features, equipment, and colors that were best suited to the users. The completed parks illustrate the power of low-cost playground renovations, demonstrating that even the smallest playground can depart from the traditional post and platform structure with distinctive, dynamic and challenging play spaces. Mellin Park Mellin Park, located in the Edgewater neighborhood, is a .22-acre pocket park situated at the intersection of Ashland and Bryn Mawr Avenues. Overlapping circular forms inspired the layout of the park, and were repeated throughout the design. A field of free-form rubber mounds and turfgrass berms bound the northern edge of the park, creating a space for 2-5-year-olds, who tend toward sensory play. A play structure for and swing set 2-12-year-olds demarcates the southern edge. Seating opportunities exist throughout, including a shade structure over a picnic table (Landscape Structures) toward the center of the park, creating a perfect location for parents and guardians to watch their children play, or kids to gather for a game or study session. A color theme of orange, gray, and blue is evident throughout the park, giving the playground a playful fa├žade familiar to Chicago Bears fans. Merryman Park Merryman Park, a .15-acre lot sandwiched between residential homes on all four sides, is located in the Lakeview neighborhood, and features a unique and exploratory net dome (Kompan) that greets visitors at the entrance. Visitors move through a donor paver passageway surrounded by unique concrete 'twig' benches and rare turquoise boulders, and find a swing set and small play structure with opportunities for climbing, sliding, and twisting at the park's western Landscape Architecture by site design group, ltd. Deep Pockets: Reforming Chicago's Smallest Play Spaces

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