Kids can help a West Seattle artist design playground for entire city

(Judith Caldwell, left, with husband Daniel, pouring bronze at their Top Hat studio)
West Seattle artist Judith Caldwell – whose work includes the trolley-car art atop Junction bus shelters – has a big new project. Though it’s not in this area, it’s a high-profile citywide project that will be created with lots of help and input, including, she hopes, other West Seattleites. She’s been chosen to be part of the design team creating a new playground at Seattle Center – between the Armory (former Center House) and EMP – here’s the concept/schematic:

Caldwell explains, “We are trying to connect with young people all over the city to help us generate the text, images, and other ideas that will guide the design of the playground.” There’s a kickoff event this Saturday, and after that, Caldwell says, “we will be holding workshops around the city in the coming months, at libraries, community centers, and other venues, to get kids involved.” Read on for the official news release:

Seattle Center and Seattle Center Foundation, in partnership with Center Art LLC., announced the design and construction team for Artists at Play, a privately funded children’s play project at Seattle Center. The team, comprised of celebrated artists Trimpin and Judith Caldwell, in partnership with Site Workshop and Highwire, will transform the asphalt plaza between Seattle Center Armory and EMP Museum into a free, artistically-inspired play area for kids of all ages.

Based on the idea that play can encompass sounds and motion, Trimpin, a MacArthur Genius Award recipient, will create a series of playful interactive sculptures that brings a kinetic and musical presence to the playground. Caldwell, a renowned Pacific Northwest artist and Seattle native, will engage local kids to interpret their stories into artworks, which will be integrated throughout the site. Landscape architecture firm Site Workshop, which has broad experience in creating imaginative parks and play areas, will blend the artworks into a comprehensive design that includes art elements and new innovative play equipment, supplied by Highwire, a local play equipment provider, into an immersive play experience for kids of all ages.

“We are thrilled with the selection of this imaginative and resourceful team and grateful to be working with Center Art on the Artists at Play project. The play area is an exciting gift to the community and an important contribution to the Seattle Center Century 21 Master Plan, which calls for enlivening that part of the grounds with accessible and creative, child-focused activities,” said Seattle Center Director Robert Nellams.

A selection panel, made up of a mix of disciplines drawn from the broader community, chose the winning team and their concept based on their ability to think big, their experience with large-scale works and their practical knowledge of project constructability. The planning process began in early 2013, when an Advisory Committee first met to develop proposal guidelines for the project. The design and construction will run through 2014.

“The design team and artists look forward to working with kids to explore and capture the poetic exuberance of play in this exciting new project,” said Site Workshop Principal Mark Brands on behalf of the project design team.

The project team will undertake a robust community engagement process to gather input and feedback from local kids so that Artists at Play truly reflects the community’s imagination and creative spirit. The project’s partners will invite children and adults alike to join team members in a Kick-Off Community Design Presentation and Workshop, 1 p.m. – 4 p.m., Saturday, March 1, in Next 50 Pavilion (adjacent to the Monorail platform). Both artists and the larger design team will be on hand to present their initial design work and gather input from the public as their concepts evolve. Additional community workshops are being scheduled around the city in spring 2014 to collect a diverse range of ideas.

You can find out more about the project on the Seattle Center website; the official invitation to the Saturday afternoon event is here (PDF).

2 Replies to "Kids can help a West Seattle artist design playground for entire city"

  • Alexandria February 24, 2014 (10:33 am)

    It’s a brilliant idea to provide children with the opportunity to participate in designing this playground. Especially since the playground will be mostly utilized by children. Playgrounds and community centers are a place where children and families bond. Therefore, this idea will benefit the children in this community and their families. Also, this can also help improve children’s involvement in the community, and the children will greatly appreciate the city because of this.

  • cs in hp February 25, 2014 (4:24 pm)

    How awesome! She(in collaboration with Site Workshop as well) did the bronze pieces at the new spraypark at Highland Park!

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