Making accessibility child’s play

Child playing

January 5, 2014 • Candace Wilson • Civic + Cultural, Landscape Architecture

When the Sunrise Rotary Club decided to dreamed of a 27,000-square-foot, $1.5 million boundless playground, TESSERE stepped up to make it a reality.

A boundless playground is entirely barrier free and accessible to all children, regardless of age and physical, cognitive, developmental, or sensory impairments. When TESSERE took the project on, it was a new concept in our community – designed to be 70 percent accessible when other area playgrounds met only minimum ADA requirements.

Design solutions and challenges included: Full but seamless integration of ramps and grade changes in the play space; Nontraditional playground fixtures designed to encourage interactive play; On-the-job playtime to familiarize team members with the unique equipment.

Project manager Joseph Steffes recalled checking in on an installation while wearing a suit and tie.  Seconds after climbing atop the piece of equipment, he found himself sprawled out on the ground.  “At that point, we realized we needed to be very sure we knew exactly what each piece of equipment was designed to do.”

In addition to the central interactive area, the playground also features two toddler areas, a sound garden with oversized musical instruments, a sand play area, two swing areas, and a puppet house complete with berm seating.

The playground recently celebrated its fifth anniversary, and children of all ages and abilities can still be found there from sunup to sundown.  “It’s unbelievable just how much use the playground gets,” Steffes observed.

The project remains a cheerful example of TESSERE and our partners collaborating toward a more beautiful, inclusive community.