Of Designscapes Colorado’s numerous premier projects during the past decade, a program for Denver Public Schools is among the best. The Learning Landscapes Alliance — a joint effort between the University of Colorado and the Denver Public Schools — extends the classroom to the playground at both the elementary and college level. The program allows college students to develop master plans for local elementary schools that are taken on by area architects and general contractors. Designscapes Colorado has installed more than 55 of the playgrounds in the past four years, gaining national recognition in the process.
“Learning Landscapes playgrounds are very different from regular playgrounds,” says Christopher Hoy, Landscape Architect “These playgrounds include math and science elements to help the students develop math and science skills while at play.” The playgrounds also integrate vibrant colors, elevation changes and artwork painted on the asphalt.
“The design elements generally tap into the history of the schools, the local geography, history and tribal roots,” says Tom Brownfield, construction manager for Designscapes Colorado. “The individual projects often start with UC-Denver graduate students working with the elementary school students by exploring the history of the elementary school’s location.”
The unusual installations are a unique and exciting challenge for a company known for its creativity and dedication. “Generally, the Learning Landscapes playgrounds will integrate three surfaces including a mulch surface, an SBR rubber (a poured-inplace material), and AstroTurf or another synthetic turf,” says Tom Brownfield, division manager for Designscapes Colorado.
“The community is also involved in the project. We lead volunteer days where the community can come in and lay sod and plant trees,” Brownfield continues. “We enjoy working closely with the volunteers and furthering a sense of community around the schools.” Designscapes Colorado also watches out for safety on the projects as the playgrounds are completed on a phased construction schedule, often while school is in session.
The playgrounds have had a positive impact across the board, and recent evidence suggests the interactive playground affects how kids learn and improves the students’ play environment.
“We’re on the leading edge in the development of these playgrounds and we’ve been proud of the national attention they’ve received,” says Brownfield. The projects allow Designscapes Colorado to do what it does best — serve clients from start to finish, as needed.