Last week Design Museum Foundation, Playworld, and the City of Chicago opened a new public play sculpture on the Chicago Riverwalk. The play space is part of Extraordinary Playscapes, Design Museum Foundation’s nationally-traveling exhibition exploring the importance of play in childhood development, while showcasing how designers translate play objectives into innovative, extraordinary and outdoor play environments.
The new and creative play space was provided by our partners at Playworld, a leading commercial playground equipment manufacturer. PlayCubes, originally introduced in the 1960s by Richard Dattner FAIA, were recently redesigned and reintroduced by Playworld through a partnership with Dattner. PlayCubes’ modular design and geometric shapes encourage exploratory and open-ended play for children. Kids can explore while climbing into the cubes from various angles, play imaginatively as they discover new paths and levels, and experience new ways to get active and creative through this unstructured play space. This installation of the PlayCubes playground is the very first to feature the new durable, metal material — a perfect match for the Riverwalk’s urban and architectural environment.
The PlayCubes opened on the Riverwalk the afternoon of October 11th with City Commissioners, Mark Kelly and Brian Bannon, Riverwalk’s Assistant Project Director, Michelle Woods, and Play & Design Specialist for Playworld, Missy Benson all in attendance. The following afternoon local designers, Chicago Parks representatives, and playground specialists gathered at the Perkins + Will downtown Chicago office for a VIP lunch event with Richard Dattner. During the event Dattner spoke about the PlayCubes modular design and the history and science of play. After the presentation attendees were invited to walk across the river and view the new play scape in person.
The PlayCubes installation on the Riverwalk is a part of Design Museum Foundation’s traveling exhibition, Extraordinary Playscapes which is on view at the 3rd floor and Children’s Center at the Harold Washington Library. The exhibition, featuring over 40 international play spaces, opened on September 21st and will remain on view till December 16th. The 3rd floor installation includes case studies exploring the latest thinking in playground design, a timeline of play that reaches back to the early 1900’s, and information discussing the science behind why play is integral for development, community, and social equity. Then on the second floor, along with a small case study installation, an actual PlayCube was installed within the library’s Children’s Center. The exhibit is free and open to the public so go check it out!
Extraordinary Playscapes and the new PlayCubes playground in Chicago were made possible through support from Playworld, the National Endowment for the Arts, Sappi Ideas That Matter, and BSA Space.