College for Officer Training Playground

Growing enrollment of students with families at the Salvation Army College of Officer Training necessitated a playground to be designed in the open outdoor space vacated by a parking lot. Harding Partners’ design for a new playground provides a safe and stimulating play environment for children of campus residents. Varied textures, colors, fragrances, and materials support passive and active recreation in a way that stimulates multiple senses beyond the oversimplified imagery typically found in children’s spaces. The perimeter wall is a dynamic composition of perforated metal screens, masonry walls, and landscaping that engages the street while providing a secure environment. The masonry wall has punched glazed openings at varied elevations that allow children of different sizes to peek out into the neighborhood. The perforated metal screen rises up behind a grass play area and is a backstop for kick-ball and other games. Butterfly gardens introduce a new habitat and support wildlife in an urban area. The plantings are also a source for twigs and leaves for creative play. Age-appropriate play structures, hopscotch and four-square courts help develop gross motor skills. The fountain adds a source of water to the play experience and provides a cool respite during the summer. The project brings a thoughtful approach to play by supporting multiple forms of recreation with a delightful composition of natural and built elements.

Year: 2012
Location: Chicago, Illinois
Area: 9,000 SF