American Playgrounds: Revitalizing Community Space
For years, designers, educators, and community administrators have clamored for a book that will highlight the problems with contemporary playgrounds, tender sorely needed strategies with which to redress them, and stimulate national debate about today’s crisis of undervalued public space. Susan Solomon’s groundbreaking and marvelously illustrated American Playgrounds is that book. Since the 1970s, Solomon maintains, American playgrounds have degenerated into irrelevance as cultural artifacts and educational tools. Imbedded in Solomon’s text is a frank indictment of American attitudes that are stunted by a heavy-handed emphasis on safety that limits the nature of play and the vitality of places for public assembly.
During the past decade an elite few American architects, landscape architects, and sculptors, including Stanley Saitowitz, Walter Hood, and Mary Miss, have pioneered the restoration of aesthetic and developmental values to play areas for young people. Solomon appraises these success stories and proposes fresh and urgent remedies that blend excellent design principles, innovative planning, and affordability—a vision for the future of the playground in America. Supplementing her impeccable command of primary and secondary sources with hundreds of hours of interviews with designers and clients, the author confronts a seriously under-developed topic with powerful and complex arguments rich in social history, law, theories of play and childhood, and urbanism. Readers will be inspired—and equipped—to take up the gauntlet of advocacy for superior American playgrounds.
Accessibly written, American Playgrounds will fascinate diverse constituencies, including parents, educators, policymakers, and art, architectural, and cultural historians. For those commissioning, funding, designing, and overseeing playgrounds, it will be indispensable. The book includes a foreword by Martha Thorne, Associate Curator of the Department of Architecture, Art Institute of Chicago.
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abstract Acconci Studio activities adults Adventure Playground Aldo van Eyck American playgrounds Anne Tyng Architecture artist Author's photograph Badanes Barton Battery Park City become began Buchen building California Caplan Center childcare climbing competition concrete conversation with author Courtesy created Creative Playgrounds Creative Playthings Dattner early environment Eyck's facility Garden Garrett Eckbo Gelfand Gregory Stock ground Hood housing innovative Isamu Noguchi Kahn Collection Kahn-Noguchi Ken Smith kids land landscape architect Ledermann Lefaivre manufacturers Martha Schwartz materials ment Michael Van Valkenburgh Modern Art MoMA Museum of Modern nearby neighborhood outdoor parents patrons Paul Friedberg piece play area play equipment Play Sculpture play space playground design playground equipment public space Recreation safety Saitowitz San Francisco sand schoolyard section comes Shoplick skateboard slides street surface Susan Herrington tion University urban users Vito Acconci Walcavage wall World Yard York City young