Play apparatus from Kompan has re-energized a 3-acre playground-park at the Seattle Center, home of the Space Needle. A multi-disciplinary urban design project called Art and Play served as the catalyst for the children’s park upgrade, which was completed May 2015. A donation from a private business and Seattle Center monies provided funds for the project. 

A drawing, completed by a young girl in 2008, inspired the play space’s design. The Seattle Times had challenged school-age children to envision the kind of play space they wanted for the Seattle Center, and the drawing was the result. A variety of players, including two artists, a landscape architect firm (Site Workshop), and a playground equipment distributor served on the design team.

Site Workshop developed a strong community engagement strategy that served as part of the design process. The firm created an engagement plan that included presentations, stakeholder meetings and briefings, community outreach workshops and open houses. In total, members of the design team attended over fifteen different events to persuade children and adults to share their imaginations, creative ideas and words for the play space.  The community engagement process was considered an important component as it helped to shape the final design, says Clayton Beaudion, principal at Site Workshop.

“Our team had three major design considerations for the project: play value had to be high; comfort for guests; and flexibility of use,” Beaudion says. The project had some challenging design requirements, including:

•    Free and open to the public at all times of the year,  
•    Full integration with the site and the Seattle Center Campus,
•    Be engaging to kids of all abilities, while meeting the needs of a wide spectrum of users,
•    The playground needed to integrate art and creativity, as well as make a bold statement, and
•    Be visually stunning and leave a lasting impression.

KOMPAN’s Design Studio devised the custom play structure for the Seattle project. The design for the Seattle Center was made to parallel the play elements described in the 2008 drawing: a stainless steel swirly slide, a tunnel slide, a swinging bridge on the top, the Giant Octa net as the climbing wall, covered swinging walkways to offer crawl-through opportunities and the Kompan Sky Walk. (photo to the left). The tallest point on the Sky Walk is 29 feet and 10 inches. It is the first of its kind ever built in North America. The fun-filled space includes a 30-foot climbing tower, human-powered carousel, child-inspired musical instruments and other play elements.

Project designers integrated equipment at the site to provide opportunities for children with disabilities to play alongside their friends. Therefore, a miniature version of the Sky Walk was created and incorporated an ADA cabin with a slide, accessible stairs and a climbing net. The integrated carousal accommodates children using wheelchairs and able-bodied children. An ADA swing was installed alongside traditional and dish-shaped swings.

Artists at Play project leaders used a U.S. Communities cooperative contract with Kompan to acquire needed playground equipment. The contract (Number 110171), which covers park and playground equipment, had a five-year initial term, September 17, 2010 to September 16, 2015. The term of the pact has been extended through September 16, 2017. The lead agency for the contract is Charlotte/Mecklenburg County, N.C.

Local and state government agencies, school districts (K-12), higher education and nonprofits throughout the U.S. can use the U.S. Communities cooperative contract with Kompan to acquire park and playground equipment. Today more than 55,000 registered agencies, education institutions and nonprofits utilize U.S. Communities contracts to procure more than $2.0 billion in products and services annually.

About the Seattle Center

Originally built for the 1962 World's Fair, the 74-acre facility is a park, arts, and entertainment center. Its landmark feature is the 605-foot-tall Space Needle, that was, at its completion, the tallest building west of the Mississippi River. Seattle Center is located just north of Belltown in the Lower Queen Anne neighborhood. The center hosts more than 30 organizations and nearly 5,000 cultural and sporting events.

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