Thanksgiving is all about spending quality time with your family, so I’m thinking what better news to highlight today than the new Grand Park Playground that just opened this past weekend in Downtown LA’s Civic Center. The new colorful playground is located across City Hall within the most eastern section of Grand Park. At only 3,700 square feet, it’s impact on the downtown community will be much bigger than its actual size. Like honey bees to a flower, playgrounds attract families with children. And this past Saturday, you could say a gazillion kids waited eagerly to be the first ones to jump, climb, and slide their way into the new playground.
Funded by both the County of LA and First 5 LA, a children’s non-profit, Grand Park Playground was designed by Rios Clementi Hale Studios (RCHS) at a cost of $1 million. Construction started in early August and took almost 4 months to complete.
Parents will be glad to know that almost the entire playground is covered in padded rubber to help protect children from getting hurt. But the most prominent feature you and your child(ren) will notice first is a towering jungle gym with a lime green colored tube slide that challenges children to climb their way to the top to slide all the way back down.
I met the architect from RCHS who designed the playground, Tony Paradowski, who told me the jungle gym is meant to be like climbing a tree in an urban jungle. He looked at various other playgrounds around the world, and especially in Europe, to come up with the final design he felt would capture the imaginations of children here in Downtown LA.
In addition, there are berms of various sizes from small to large. The biggest berm has climbing holds attached to its side that provides small children the opportunity to pretend like they’re “rock climbing” their way to the top of Mt. Everest. Another berm has a tunnel within it that beckons children to crawl through like little groundhogs!
Grand Park Playground is an important addition to the evolving and maturing landscape of Downtown LA as it supports the idea that downtown residents who choose to have children don’t have to immediately move out to the suburbs. With enough continued investment in amenities that serve families like this (like the new Metro Charter School), we can eventually change the perception that Downtown LA is not only for young loft dwellers, but is family friendly as well leading to a fully established community.
And it’s not just about families who actually live downtown either. The other great thing about building playgrounds like this is the fact that it attracts families who don’t even live downtown — yet!
John Michael, a resident of Echo Park, heard about the opening of this new playground and brought his young daughter to Grand Park.
“We usually go to the newly renovated park in Echo Park, but we love coming downtown as well,” Michael told me as he held his daughter up while she played with the playground’s permanent xylophone. “This new playground gives us another reason to spend time down here.”
And that’s definitely music to my ears!
To learn more about Grand Park, click here.