Current Projects

Free library play spaces

This year, 4 branches of the Free Library (Cecil B. Moore, Kingsessing, Whitman and Wyoming) will be getting indoor play spaces.

We are working closely with community members, staff and our design team to envision what play could be at the library through a series of community workshops. Please come draw, build and create with us! Cecil B. Moore: Saturday, 1/28 10am-1pm, Wyoming, Tuesday, 2/7 from 11-1pm and 3-5pm, Whitman, Saturday 2/11 from 11-2pm and Kingsessing, Monday, 2/13 from 10-2pm. If you cannot attend, please visit any of the 4 branches during the month of February to fill out a caregiver survey and coloring sheet for your kids.

This project is a partnership with the Free Library of Philadelphia, Smith Memorial Playground and Playhouse, DIGSAU and Erector Sets.

kaboom play everywhere challenge

The project on the left is the "Play Parklet", a winner in the challenge. 

The Park Playlet will offer a rare eddy in the stream of city living for peaceful moments, exploration, discovery, and for savoring the opportunity to be outdoors together. The project builds off of the already successful dining parklet program in the University City neighborhood of Philadelphia. The design features a base that will be filled with a carpet of native meadow plants (except for a small sandbox area). The edge of the base that faces the street will have slots to receive rainwater, which will be filtered by the meadow, and redirected from the sewer. On top of the meadow is a rolling hammock space for lounging for older kids and caregivers, and opportunities for younger children to play.

This project is a partnership with Roofmeadow, University City District, Little Learners Child Care Center, Office of Transportation and Infrastructure System and the Philadelphia Streets Department

The project on the right is the "Sa(l)vage Play: Here There Be Monsters", a finalist in the challenge.  

The Sa(l)vage Play Project envisions giant playable monsters, built out of garbage, roaming the empty lots of Philadelphia. They would be built from diverted construction waste and reclaimed materials found in the local community and constructed as part of Sa(l)vage Play Days, design/build events with local kids and families that teach skills and lessons needed to transform vacant lots full of trash into safe places for play.

This project is a partnership with RAIR, Smith Memorial Playground and Playhouse and the New Kensington Community Development Corporation.


This project was a winner of the Community Design Collaborative's PlaySpace Design Competition and is being built in partnership with Make the World Better Foundation, Urban Roots, Interface Studio Architects, Roofmeadow and Space for Childhood. The project should be complete by the end of 2017.

Rebosante is a spanish word that means busting, brimming, overflowing...this is the atmosphere we hoped to create at Waterloo Playground, a site in the Norris Square community of Philadelphia. We envisioned a dynamic nature play space built on top of the existing site. Rather than starting from scratch, our design reimagined existing site features, like out of date play structures, and utilized reclaimed materials, such as salvaged trees, logs and steppers, mulch and sand. We saw our design as a lightweight, inexpensive kit of parts that could be utilized to transform urban playgrounds in Philadelphia and across the country.


This project has been presented at national conferences for The Association for the Study of Play and the US Play Coalition, as well as the online learning series for the American Society of Landscape Architects. Publication pending.

Over a 6-month period, we visited 45 playgrounds in London, and assessed 16, collecting data on user gender, age, ethnicity and activity levels. By comparing playgrounds in London to those in San Francisco, Los Angeles and New York, of similar size (.25-.75 acres) and population density (50,000-175,000 people in 1-mile radius), we discovered that environments with fewer “off the shelf” components, more unique design elements, and a diversity of play surfaces, had 55% more visitors and 16-18% higher moderate to vigorous physical activity in children and teens.

This project is a partnership with Dr. Deborah Cohen of the RAND Corporation.

Click here for a PDF of a preliminary report of our findings and here for our final report.

National study of playgrounds

This project has submitted for funding through the National Institute of Health.

This proposal is intended to test and validate a new method to understand the interactions between environmental factors (playground equipment and surfacing) and moderate-vigorous physical activity primarily among children and teens. We are interested in gaining a deeper understanding of the role environmental context play in physical activity.

We propose to study a sample of 60 playgrounds - 30 with innovative play designs built in the past 10 years and 30 more standard playgrounds in 7 metro areas: Seattle, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Chicago, Boston, New York City and Washington DC.

This project is a partnership with Dr. Deborah Cohen of the RAND Corporation and Dr. Thomas McKenzie, professor emeritus of San Diego State University.

Past Projects

Our director did playground design as a project associate at The Trust for Public Land and as a volunteer at Public Workshop.

HAYES VAlley playground, balboa park, boeddeker park

These projects were part of a 3 park $15 million initiative led by The Trust for Public Land and funded by major donations from Banana Republic, Levi Strauss Foundation, McKesson, Pacific Gas and Electric Company and Wells Fargo Foundation.

Hayes Valley Playground is a .25 acre lot that was completed demolished and rebuilt, with new clubhouse by WRNS Studios, play areas for tots and school age kids, lawn, stage, outdoor fitness equipment and community garden.

Balboa Park is 25 acres, and had strategic interventions throughout the space, including a skate park, play area for school age kids, renovated tennis courts, picnic area, walking paths, landscaping and public art.

Boeddeker Park is 1 acre, the largest public open space in the Tenderloin, the densest and poorest neighborhood in San Francisco. It was also completely demolished and rebuilt, and includes a new clubhouse by WRNS Studios, play area for tots and school age kids, large lawn, full basketball court, outdoor fitness equipment, community garden areas and rain gardens for stormwater management.

build adventure space, smith memorial playground & hack your classroom, philadelphia mural arts program

These projects were part of a design-build program of Public Workshop, which enable youth and local residents to build great places to play in their communities.

The Build Adventure space at Smith Memorial Playground & Playhouse was funded by the US Green Building Council as their 2013 Greenbuild Legacy Project. Children and families from the surrounding neighborhood helped design the concept of the adventure space, while a group of young adults from Public Workshop's Building Heroes program led construction efforts.

The Hack Your Classroom project was part of Philadelphia Mural Arts 'Artrepreneurship' program, empowering young adults to 'hack' their learning/studio space to better meet their artistic production and entrepreneurship needs. Through a 3 week design/build intensive, the students built an indoor treehouse/computer lab/art gallery/hangout space.