Architect David Rockwell & KaBOOM! collaborate on new generation of “free play” spaces to be built across the U.S. Link copied!

May 5, 2008

New York, NY

Architect David Rockwell of Rockwell Group and KaBOOM!, the foremost national not for profit dedicated to bringing play back into the lives of children, today announced a partnership to develop and implement a new generation of playspaces across the United States, based on the play value concepts of Imagination Playground™, the Rockwell Group’s design for a playground in lower Manhattan.

The Rockwell Group created Imagination Playground™, which will break ground this summer, to embody the concept of unstructured, child directed “free play,” where children direct their own activities, alone and with their peers. The Rockwell Group has worked closely with the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation on the initiative.

“We have always hoped to make the Imagination Playground™ concept available to communities nationwide,” said David Rockwell, founder and CEO of Rockwell Group. “We could not be more thankful to KaBOOM! for helping make that dream a reality.”

KaBOOM! has spent 12 years building playspaces using a community build model, where they partner with corporations, foundations and private donors. Creating opportunities and tools for building playgrounds, KaBOOM! will extend their play platform by incorporating the Imagination Playground™ model into an expandable collection of its trademark parts to supplement existing playgrounds and form the basis for new playspaces.

“KaBOOM! believes that play is a matter of national importance. We can’t wait to bring some of the most innovative, yet old-fashioned concepts in play back to children across the country. By adding sand, water, loose parts, and play associates to what KaBOOM! already offers, we’re going to revolutionize your neighborhood playground,” said Darell Hammond, co-founder and CEO of KaBOOM!

Rockwell Group has designed three scalable and expandable playgrounds that include elements of Imagination Playground™. They can be installed in existing parks and play areas or newly developed ones, taking into account site, budget, logistics, and available supervision. Rockwell Group and KaBOOM! will also develop Imagination Playground™ “free play” education and advocacy tools and channels.

The three playground designs are described below. Each utilizes loose parts, designed by Rockwell Group, and found parts, along with sand and water, to create a unique playspace for children.

  • Imagination Playground™ Site Specific – a fixed playground unique to a site (like the one designed for Burling Slip near the South Street Seaport in lower Manhattan).
  • Imagination Playground™ in a Big Box – Fitted out shipping container containing a variety of loose parts as an anchor for new playground development. The container can be landscaped into an existing or new site.
  • Imagination Playground™ in a Box – a metal box on wheels containing a variety of loose parts, blocks and found items. Imagination Playground™ in a box can be layered into existing playgrounds as well as used in schools (indoors/outdoors), apartment complexes, street fairs, summer camps, hospitals, airports, and emergency settings.

The first Imagination Playground™ in a Box will open in Brownsville, Brooklyn this summer. KaBOOM! is sponsoring the playground, its first in New York City.

KaBOOM! will also look to incorporate Imagination Playground™ into existing playground builds they have planned, allowing children to play in diverse and creative ways in an environment that can be manipulated. KaBOOM! builds more than 230 playgrounds a year. They work with local community groups to design and build the playground from scratch. Since their founding in 1995, they have raised more than $100 million to build 1,400 playgounds in cities across North America, which serve more than 3 million children.

Imagination Playground™ is designed to allow kids to use their creativity to play freely with loose and found parts, and other equipment, rather than prescribed activities. In its place are the raw materials of creativity and sensory exploration, such as sand and water, as well as play props, including building blocks, buckets, shovels, wheelbarrows, and other safe tools that facilitate children’s play. These elements will enable children to play in an intuitive way: build something, tear it down, and start all over again.


Rachel Carr, 212/685-4300
Dan Klores Communications for Rockwell Group