Read detailed information below about the design and features of the renovated playground.
Architectural Design by Koch Landscape Architecture
About the Design
The play environment that was designed for the Helen Diller Playground has taken into consideration the developmental needs of children; the site's context; the natural and social history of the area and the culture of the community to create a "sense of place" that will remain an icon of the community for years to come.
Super Slide: An exciting 45 foot long slide is the literal "high point" of the playground as it provides an elevation change of nearly thirty feet. The Super Slide is nestled into the hillside amid boulders and trees, providing a wild ride for anyone that climbs up the boulders or rubber surfacing area to its entrance.
Climbing Activities: A range of climbing activities is provided: an easy set of stairs; a rubber incline on one side of the slide; a looped climbing pole, and a rock climbing wall. These climbing activities provide access and egress between the two tiers of the playground while providing the opportunity to climb vertically, inclined forward and backwards as well as laterally. The climbing activities provide an opportunity for problem solving as children learn to "map out" their route of travel.
Boats: The playground maintains its historic background with two boats, one accessible to toddlers and one to older children. The boat for younger children is nestled into the hillside. Both boats are wheelchair accessible enabling all children to participate in the fantasy play.
Sand play: Sand play is one of the most vital play opportunities that children can experience. The sand box is one of the few places that a child truly has control over their environment. They can construct, deconstruct, and construct again. They can play by themselves or work together. People of all ages enjoy the sensation of running their hands through the sand. The sand play area is set off from the active play environment to enable children to experience this "deep play" where they become so involved in their creation that they are lost in their play.
This passive play area is surrounded by boulders and natural elements that the children can use to sit or construct upon. The trees in the area provide afternoon shade. The raised edge of the sand box border provides seating for those that choose not to sit in the sand. Accessibility to the play elements are provided via the elevated sand table and also by transfer into the sand box.
Pre-school Play Area (children ages 2-5)
The intent of the designers was to create an environment that would support the development of a young child. Nestled into the hillside, it is reflective of the multi-layers of play that are supported in the larger play environment while creating a safe haven for the younger children to grow and develop without unnecessary risk. Young children need graduated levels of challenge to allow them to develop physically, cognitively, socially and emotionally at their own developmental time line. A much smaller version of the "hillside" slide is one of the many appropriate play features that are located here. The pre-school area is separated from the larger playground by a wide walkway., and surrounded by dramatic, natural landscaping that defines the limits of the play zone.
Balancing and Crawling Activities: Younger children need opportunities to develop their balancing skills. A variety of spinners, stepping pods, spring toys and spring see saws are used to encourage cooperative and social play while creating the movement so necessary for the development of the inner ear. A series of short crawl tubes and pods are used to create a maze-like activity that allow children to create their own environments within the space. Young children are beginning to learn about their own sense of body space and enjoy climbing in, through and on top of the tubes and pods. The younger child is beginning to explore socially but likes to maintain their personal space. The clusters of pods and tubes enable multiple children to relate to one another while remaining in their own "nest".
Sound Garden: Young children are very observant of their natural environment and are mentally stimulated by a variety of color, texture, shapes, smells and sounds. The upper level contains a sensory rich "Sound Garden" with summer shade and a calming, cooling environment. The rich contrast of color and textures of the rock, surfacing and vegetation are visually stimulating. The "Sound Garden" features a variety of opportunities for the children to create sounds by using chimes and drums. Sculptural elements throughout the playground that move with the wind also add visual interest.
School Age Play Area (children ages 5-12)
Play Mound: The focal point of the main level of this play area features a raised play mound. The play mound also has an accessible slide that follows the slope of the mound. A combination of climbing opportunities on the play mound provides a great variety of graduated levels of challenge so that climbers of all levels of experience may achieve success. The rubberized surface of the mound provides a cushioned surface to crawl up and roll down. Steps provide easy access back. A series of climbing ropes are anchored to the rubber surfacing to offer hand support while climbing up the slope. Curved steel tubes provide a combination of climbing and sliding opportunities. One section of the mound has been removed as if a "slice of pie" has been taken from it. The retaining walls on the sides of the opening form a climbing wall, enclosed with a climbing net. Play occurs both on top of and under the net. Boulders and vegetation are used on the back side of the mound to provide a variety of sensory experiences and to blend the mound with its surrounding environment.
Bridge: The top of the 10-foot high mound is accessible via a wheelchair accessible sidewalk and an elevated bridge and provides the opportunity to be part of the play at a high elevation.At one end of the bridge near the stairs to the Super Slide is seating that overlooks the play environment. The 60 foot long bridge provides a sense prospect and challenge as children walk from the lookout area over to the top of the raised mound.
Wood Cluster Climber: Thisclimber doubles as a work of art and a climber. Children will interact with the climber in a variety of ways from playing at the base of the form among the timber towers to climbing using carved hand and foot-holds. The configuration allows children to climb vertically as well as laterally. The natural timber material will be in harmony with the environment and will repeat the shape of the landforms that have been created within the play space.
Natural Climbing Stone: A very large natural stone is placed at the base of the Super Slide. This large stone provides a realistic rock climbing experience. Children will have to use their upper body strength to climb the face of the rock. Children with less experience can climb the base of the rock moving around the rock laterally as opposed to climbing vertically. The smaller boulders placed in the area also provide graduated levels of challenge as children learn to master the movement of their body across the rock face.
Swing Set Play Area: The swing area is surrounded by landscaping. Five open-belt swings are suspended from a tall, school-age swing set. A therapeutic swing seat with head support is also provided. The location of the swings along the perimeter of the play area give children an opportunity to swing looking out across the park as if swinging over an edge or they can swing facing the playground with a view of the entire play area.
The renovation of the play area included installation of new irrigation system within the boundaries of the play area, as well as security site lighting. A new subsurface drainage system is installed below the play matting to collect and direct water runoff from rain and irrigation. The project includes a new connection to the City's combined sewer line on Dolores Street.
ADA access improvements completed under the project are limited to the provision of a new accessible loading zone on Dolores Street, and associated curb cut and sidewalk modifications between that location and the entrance to the park. From the accessible park entrance, a new ADA accessible path has been provided serving the children's play area. The path doubles as a service vehicle entrance point, with a curb apron. All other site related ADA access improvements will be completed as part of the second phase of the park improvements.