Frank Lloyd Wright, one of the most influential architects of the 20th century, is known for his innovative designs and use of natural materials. However, not many people know that he also designed playgrounds for children. In the 1920s and 1930s, Wright was commissioned to design six playgrounds across the United States, all of which have been lost to history.
The first playground, known as the “Play Mountain,” was designed in 1923 for the California Museum of Science and Industry (now the California Science Center) in Los Angeles. The playground was designed as a mountain, complete with a cave and a waterfall. Children could climb the mountain, explore the cave, and play in the water. Wright used natural materials, such as rocks and plants, to create an immersive and interactive experience for the children. The playground also featured circular air vents, which allowed for natural ventilation and added to the overall design aesthetic.
The second playground, known as the “Play Mor,” was designed in 1929 for the Hollyhock House, one of Wright’s most famous works, also in Los Angeles. The playground was a series of terraces, complete with a sandbox, a pool, and playground equipment. Like the Play Mountain, the Play Mor used natural materials, such as rocks and plants, to create an immersive and interactive experience for the children.
Wright also designed playgrounds for the YMCA in Madison, Wisconsin in 1930 and the Children’s Museum of Indianapolis in 1931. Both playgrounds were dismantled in the 1950s and 1960s, as the properties they were located on were developed for other uses.
One of the most unique features of Wright’s playground designs were the concrete slides, which were a departure from the metal slides that were commonly used at the time. The concrete slides, which were smoothly finished and seamlessly integrated into the playground’s design, offered a unique and exciting way for children to play. However, it was later realized that concrete playgrounds were not safe for children as they were prone to breaking bones, due to the hard and unforgiving nature of the surface.
The loss of these playgrounds is a tragedy, not just because they were designed by one of the most famous architects of the 20th century, but also because they were innovative and interactive designs that encouraged children to play and explore nature. They were ahead of their time, and it is a shame that they were not preserved for future generations to enjoy.
It is important to remember the legacy of these lost playgrounds and to continue to strive for innovative and interactive designs in playgrounds today, keeping safety and durability in mind. We can learn from Wright’s designs and use natural materials, create immersive and interactive experiences, and encourage children to play and explore nature. It is also important for us to preserve and protect our architectural heritage, so that future generations can learn from and appreciate the work of architects like Frank Lloyd Wright.
In conclusion, Frank Lloyd Wright’s lost playgrounds across the United States were unique and innovative designs that encouraged children to play and explore nature. The playgrounds featured circular air vents, concrete slides and the use of natural materials. However, it was later realized that concrete playgrounds were not safe for children as they were prone to breaking bones. Despite being dismantled in the 1950s and 1960s, these playgrounds stand as an example of the importance of preserving our architectural heritage, and to continue striving for innovative, durable and safe designs in playgrounds today.