By Cynthia Gentry, Founder & Executive Director, Atlanta Taskforce on Play (ATOP)
Atlanta, GA April 5, 2013
We are so proud that in their April 2013 edition Atlanta Magazine named ATOP's Woodruff Park Playground the #1 thing that every Atlantan (and hopefully visitors, too) must do. The two-page spread caught us by surprise and we thought we'd take this opportunity to tell you how this great play piece came to be...and why it took three years to make it happen.
At this point I'll change over to the first person, because when it began it was just me. In 2003 I stumbled into an obsession with playgrounds after a tragic turn of events found me leading a playground project in John Howell Park in Atlanta's Virginia-Highland neighborhood. After such a special experience I began noticing that most playgrounds felt cold, bare and boring in spite of their bright colors. I didn't know enough to be able to articulate what was bothering me about these supposedly child-friendly spaces so I began reading everything I could get my hands on about playground design.
Soon I found a book that inspired me: American Playgrounds: Revitalizing Community Space by Susan G. Solomon. In the book, the author described a 1954 playground design competition held by New York's Museum of Modern Art (MOMA). I was really taken by the idea of artists, architects, industrial designers, and others from around the world competing to create innovative play design. It seemed that in this day and age of social media that the time was ripe to hold a playground competition again. So I jumped in with both feet and created Playable10 International Design Competition.
The first stop was to meet with Claudia Rebola, an assistant professor of Industrial Design at the College of Architecture at Georgia Tech. She agreed to help on the project and we went to Alan Balfour, the Dean of the College of Architecture to get his approval which was readily given. Then it was on to Central Atlanta Progress to work on making Woodruff Park the site of the winning design.
(to be continued)