A little under two years ago, we reported that David Rockwell, the star-studded designer/architect perhaps most widely known for his set design work and his handling of the Oscars for the past couple of years, was preparing to break ground on his first playground in New York. Now that its South Street Seaport-based construction is set to finally be wrapped up in late July and open for business for the kiddies, Rockwell’s serving as the launching point for the New Yorker‘s Rebecca Mead‘s upcoming piece for the magazine, “State of Play,” which talks about the history of playgrounds in the city, Rockwell’s new contribution, and this new trend of famous architects and designers getting into the game (both Frank Gehry and landscape guru Michael Van Valkenburgh have playgrounds in the works). It’s a great piece and a nice kick off to the opening of Rockwell’s first foray into the space. Here’s a bit about the origins of how he got involved in the first place:
Rockwell, who is fifty-three, developed an interest in playgrounds ten years ago, after becoming a father. Like many first-time parents, particularly those belonging to the urban upper-middle class, Rockwell was nostalgic about the free play of his youth, and lamented the more constricted opportunities that were available to his offspring. Also, like many parents, he discovered that the box in which a toy is delivered is often of more interest to a child than the toy is. Rockwell approached Adrian Benepe, the parks commissioner. “He called me up out of the blue and said, ‘I have got little kids, I am in playgrounds and they are great, but they are kind of boring — is there something different we can do?’” Benepe recalls.
Also related, make sure to check out Mead’s bonus audio playground tour on the New Yorker‘s Out Loud blog. And if you’re eagerly counting down the hours until Rockwell is finished with the “Imagination Playground,” you can check out the project’s construction cam here.