50 Years at Play

Many people remember the days of freestanding slides, swings and monkey bars. But in 1967, that idea of playground design advanced to interconnected play components. The revolutionary idea of combining playground activities is known as the continuous play concept, which was created by our Cofounder Steve King. As his final thesis project at Iowa State University, Steve developed a system that linked play activities together to provide a continuous challenge for children. His premise was that if kids are together on one structure, they’ll learn things that they will use in real life like social and conflict-resolution skills.

While his thesis only scored him a C+ grade, Steve took his continuous play concept to his first job as a landscape architect specializing in park planning. In 1969, he was assigned a playground design project for the City of Minneapolis where he was able to put his approach in action. His first playground was a success, which lead to more interest. And in April 1971, Steve and Barb obtained a $1,000 loan and incorporated Landscape Structures to design and build playstructures. See our company timeline here.

In an effort to provide great play experiences for kids, Landscape Structures has always been committed to innovation. Hedra®, one of our more recent inventions, allows kids to safely navigate via their own intuition and curiosity, and invent routes, games and imaginary environments. Our long-standing commitment to inclusive play is breaking barriers with the new We-Go-Swing™, the first no-transfer inclusive swing that can be integrated directly into the playground setting. Even more, the use of innovative materials and the development of colors that are truly inspired by nature is changing the world of playgrounds.

As Landscape Structures moves into its 50th year of business, we’re taking time to reflect on the power of play. We know that play and recreation has far more value than just being fun; it is essential for the health and wellbeing of communities. And that’s why our team—nearly 500 employees and the network of more than 200 playground consultants worldwide—is proud to provide unique play opportunities for all ages, abilities and backgrounds. Because no matter what’s happening in the world, we will always come back to play.

Building play spaces to support community healing

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Earlier this year, we became KaBOOM!’s Partner in Play. That means we’re their primary supplier of commercial playground equipment, and we partner with them to build playspaces in communities in need across the United States, Canada and Mexico. And this summer, building playspaces is exactly what we’ve been doing. Together with KaBOOM!, we completed more than 30 playground builds during the months of June and July, and we’re on target to complete 13 more before August is over.

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It’s more than just the numbers. The playspaces that KaBOOM! builds help ensure that all kids have great, safe places to play. In fact, a single build in June–at the Abbott House in Irvington, N.Y.–impacted more than 500 kids! Abbott House is an organization that supports children in foster care, unaccompanied immigrant children, and other vulnerable populations while providing a place for healing. And the new playground is sure to deliver an additional source of restoration needed kids and their families.

Held during Morgan Stanley’s annual Global Volunteer Month, Morgan Stanley employees withstood the blistering heat to help transform a 50-year-old rundown and unsafe playground into a brightly-colored play space with slides, climbers and playground spinners. They were joined by enthusiastic Abbott House staff and volunteers who embraced the opportunity to transform the space. At the end of the day, the playground space was complete. Volunteers stood silent, many with tears in their eyes, as a group of children, recently transported to Abbott House, thanked them for their hard work.

To learn why play matters for all kids, visit KaBOOM! and join the conversation on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram with #playmatters and #PLAYceforKids. Get more details about our partnership with KaBOOM!

Principals give back to the local community

On Monday, more than 100 principals representing the National Association of Elementary School Principals (NAESP) came together to build a playground at Adams Elementary School in Spokane, Wash. The community service day was part of the 2019 NAESP Pre-K-8 Principals Conference held in Spokane.

The school playground was designed for students ages 5 to 12, and features playground slides, climbers, and activity panels in addition to overhead events and bridges. The playground is ADA compliant and designed to welcome children of all abilities. In addition to building the playground, principal volunteers participated in landscaping, painting and other beautification projects at the school.

As you can see from the tweets, principals had a blast during the build. This community service day marks the 11th anniversary of our partnership with NAESP to build a playground at a deserving elementary school.

See more about the playground build from KXLY.com and The Spokesman-Review.

Barb’s Day of Honor 2019

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Barb’s Day of Honor is celebrated at Landscape Structures Inc. every year on March 4th since losing the day’s namesake and Landscape Structures co founder, Barb King in 2008. Her legacy lives on through her many lifetime accomplishments and the way she impacted those around her. This positive influence is evident in the many stories and anecdotes shared by friends, family, and coworkers on this day.

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“Our highest purpose is to make a difference in the world – create a better place for children and families.”

Barb King
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One of Barb’s personal passions was advocating for healthier lifestyles for children and sparking an appreciation of nature in them. Barb founded the non profit Säjai® Foundation in honor of this commitment. Their mission is focused on teaching children the value of healthy living and encouraging an exploration  of the outdoors. This legacy continues through the merging of the Säjai® Foundation with Camp Fire in May 2013. Camp Fire serves more than 250,000 youths and families through outdoor activities with an emphasis on camping.
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Search our hashtag #HonoringBarbKing on Instagram or Twitter to read more about Barb King’s personal impact on others (or to add your own story!) or check out our Barb King Day post on Facebook.
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Barb’s Inspiration Park (Delano, MN)

Case Study: Play Reimagined

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Client: City of Denver Parks and Recreation Department

Landscape Architect: Dig Studio, Denver, Colo.

Goal: Get children and families outdoors and encourage life-long active and healthy lifestyles in a revitalized park environment.

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Solution: The giant 1950’s microphone-inspired tower heralds the horizon, but the built-in play value is what really makes this park honoring local radio DJ Paco Sanchez truly extraordinary. Brilliant colors and bold presence aside, it’s the imaginative use of the musical references that do the hard work of delivering dynamic play. Notes and scales offer footholds. Sound waves create netted climbing adventures. Chimes travel with kids as they run across the bridge.

Read more about how the City of Denver Parks and Recreation Department engaged the community and its culture through the transformation of Paco Sanchez Park.

Changing kids’ lives together

At this time of year, we all love to hear stories of people doing good for others. And that’s why we wanted to share this story of Rachel, a 9-year-old who built an inclusive playground for her community in Kentucky. Thanks to Rachel’s dad, Jeff, for sharing this amazing story with us.

When Rachel was in third grade she formed The Rachel’s Fun For Everyone project, an organization to raise funds for an all-accessible playground in Vine Grove, Ky. She came up with the idea for the playground after seeing children on a playground who couldn’t play like she could. She didn’t think it was fair that they couldn’t play just because of a disability, and wanted to make a change.

Over five years, Rachel and her family, along with the community, raised more than $500,000 to create a place for everyone–no matter their ability–to play. Rachel’s dream became a reality in August 2017, and Rachel is continuing to fight for the right of play and for inclusion for everyone.

Get more information about Rachel and Rachel’s Fun for Everyone Project on Facebook or by visiting her website.

Landscape Structures selected “Partner in Play” by KaBOOM!

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We’re excited to share that earlier this month, KaBOOM! announced Landscape Structures as its next Partner in Play. We will begin a three-year partnership on Jan. 1, 2019, which will involve building hundreds of innovative playspaces across North America.

KaBOOM! is the national non-profit dedicated to ensuring all kids have great, safe places to play, and will partner with us to provide playspaces throughout communities–schools, parks, housing and beyond–to enable kids and families, regardless of zip code, to make play the easy choice. As the Partner in Play, we will serve as the primary supplier of playground equipment and partner in building playspaces in communities in need across the United States, Canada and Mexico.

Learn more about our partnership with KaBOOM! here.

Principals celebrate 10 years of playground builds during NAESP

On Sunday, more than 100 of the nation’s elementary school principals came together to build a playground at Catalina Elementary School in Orlando, Fla. The playground build is part of the National Association of Elementary School Principals (NAESP) Community Service Day, which celebrated its 10th anniversary this year.

The playground was designed for students ages 5 to 12, and features playground slides, climbers, and activity panels in addition to overhead events and bridges. The playground is ADA compliant and was designed to welcome children of all abilities. In addition to building the playground, principal volunteers will do landscaping, painting, and other beautification projects at the school.

As you can see from the tweets, principals had a blast during the 10th anniversary build. Other build locations throughout the years include Tampa, Seattle, Long Beach and Compton, Baltimore, Philadelphia, and Prince George’s County, Md. Learn more about the NAESP Annual Conference and save the date: July 10-12, 20198 in Spokane, Wash.

Giving children of all abilities a safe environment to play

We’re excited to announce that the Kiwanis Club of Marietta, Ohio, is the winner in the 5th Annual Legacy of Play contest. The club, which will receive $25,000 in playground equipment, plans to renovate the community’s nearly 30-year-old playstructure to make it inclusive for the entire community, giving children of all abilities a safe environment to gather outside to socialize, grow and play.

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“This award is going to be such a boost,” said Marcia Stewart, who managed the Kiwanis Club of Marietta’s entry into the contest. “We’re so grateful to be able to spearhead this inclusive playground project.”

Marietta is a historic, charming riverboat town nestled in the rolling hills of the Mid-Ohio Valley. The city served as the starting point for westward expansion by early pioneers, and the design of the all-inclusive Northwest Territory Community Playground will pay tribute to the area’s first settlement. From themed and inclusive playground equipment, embedded historical facts and an artifact seek-and-find activity, adults and children in the community will have the opportunity to learn about the area.

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We’re excited to see this inclusive playground vision come to life over the next year. The Marietta Kiwanis Club hopes to complete the Northwest Territory Community Playground on or around Kiwanis One Day in October 2019. Stay tuned for updates along the way.

Maintaining the safety of your playground

It’s National Playground Safety Week, which is a great time to focus on the maintenance of your playgrounds. Maintenance issues contribute to approximately one-third of playground injuries each year. To ensure safe play, keep your playground structures soundly inspected and fully functioning. See five easy steps to take in our infographic below.

Proactive Playground Maintenance