An Invitation to Child's Play: Big Blocks and Wheelbarrows
By DIANE CARDWELL
Published: May 4, 2008
New York Times
It is the playground of the future, already in beta mode in New York City and coming soon to empty lots, day care centers and even suburban backyards across the country.
Instead of monkey bars and jungle gyms, there are blue and white blocks to stack into high walls or to connect as sluices and walkways.
In place of swing sets and seesaws, there are wheelbarrows and rolling carts to move materials about.
And while there are still the familiar elements of sand and water, they are no longer there to be shoveled and splashed so much as turned into landscapes of fanciful design.
The idea began with the architect David Rockwell's desire to create a more engaging play space for his children — and others — on a parking lot near the South Street Seaport in Lower Manhattan. Construction of that playground is to begin in July. But the concept has expanded to include portable collections of Mr. Rockwell's play gear that can be used in playgrounds around the city, starting with one in the Brownsville section of Brooklyn this summer.
Next, Mr. Rockwell plans to bring his novel approach to cities around the nation through a partnership with the nonprofit playground developer Kaboom.
"Play is on the decline in the United States, and frankly, kids' creativity is on the decline in the United States," said Darell Hammond, the founder of Kaboom, which is working with Mr. Rockwell to manufacture and distribute the custom-designed loose parts, which experts say encourage more imaginative, child-directed play than fixed structures do. "We're betting our future on this concept, that this concept is going to — in generations or decades — make better kids."