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.

Honored for her business innovation, leadership and legacy

Our cofounder, Barb King (1946-2008) was recently inducted into the Minnesota Women Business Owners Hall of Fame. The Hall of Fame was created to honor women entrepreneurial leaders and the first of 25—20 living and 5 posthumous—representing 150 years of Minnesota business history were inducted on April 25. Barb was honored for her business innovation, leadership and the legacy she left for future generations of Minnesota business women.

Barb King, cofounder of Landscape Structures, served as president until her passing in 2008.

Barb was the president of Landscape Structures until her passing in 2008, and was committed to children throughout her life. She was passionate about showing them how to lead healthier lives and to appreciate nature. In addition to cofounding Landscape Structures with her husband, Steve King, Barb founded and was the benefactor of the Säjai® Foundation. The Foundation is a national nonprofit organization dedicated to working with local communities to educate children about how to live a healthier life by encouraging them to get outdoors, be active and make smart nutrition decisions.

Landscape Structures employees at Barb King Inspiration Park in Delano

Landscape Structures employees at Barb King Inspiration Park in Delano

All of us employees are proud to have known Barb. She was our passionate colleague, friend, mentor, confidant and much more, and we constantly strive to celebrate her inspiring life. Learn more about Barb here, where you can read past articles written about her, browse photos of her in professional and personal settings, and watch a video to get a sense of who Barb was and see the positive impact she had on so many people.

Designed to… Innovate and Strengthen at NRPA 2012

Last week, we were in Anaheim, Calif., to participate in the 2012 National Recreation & Park Association (NRPA) Congress & Exposition. We exhibited with a beach-themed booth design, which featured the PlayBooster® Vibe™ and a 6-foot ocean wave sculpted from concrete.

NRPA beach-themed booth design

Visitors to our booth got a chance to meet some of our custom designers and artists, as well as participate in mock design sessions. Attendees were encourages to put their creativity to work to create a personalized t-shirt. See photos of inspiring t-shirts on Facebook, and tell us what you’re “designed to” do.

Designed to Play

On Wednesday, Oct. 17, we hosted a reception on the 5th Floor Lanai at the Hilton Hotel Anaheim. It was a gorgeous evening in a gorgeous space, and we welcomed more than 400 people to the event. In addition to cocktails, hors d’oeuvres and fun, we also celebrated the NRPA Award Winners including the recipient of the Barb King Award for Environmental Stewardship—the County of San Diego, Department of Parks and Recreation. The award was created for Barb King (1946-2008), who cofounded Landscape Structures with her husband, Steve King, to honor her passion for environmental stewardship and sustainability.

Hit the waves

We had a great three days in Anaheim visiting with park and recreation professionals, hearing from industry experts and taking in the nearby attractions. Our employees and playground consultants are already looking forward to 2013 NRPA in Houston, Texas!

Creating healthy, active kids

In the past four decades, obesity rates in the U.S. have soared. This increase is seen most dramatically among youth. More than 23 million children and teenagers ages 2 to 19 are considered obese or overweight—a statistic that health experts consider an epidemic. While these stats seem dismal, opportunities exist to make changes. And September—Childhood Obesity Awareness Month—is a great time to take action.

At Landscape Structures, we create play products that encourage children of all abilities to get outside, play together and be healthy. Our Cofounder Barb King (1946-2008) was passionate about showing kids how to lead healthier lives and to appreciate nature, which is why she created the Säjai® Foundation, a national nonprofit organization dedicated to teaching children the value of living a healthier life by encouraging them to experience the outdoors, be active and make smart nutrition choices. Establishing the Säjai Foundation was one of Barb’s greatest achievements, and the Foundation is proud to continue her work.

The Säjai Foundation is hosting the Amazing Walk! on Saturday, Sept. 29, from 9 to 11:30 a.m. at the North Mississippi Regional Park in Minneapolis. The Amazing Walk! isn’t your typical 5K. During the event, you can try your hand at geocaching, parkour, dancing, wall-climbing and much more. This is the Foundation’s second annual Amazing Walk!, which is intended to help bring awareness to the work being done to battle childhood obesity.

Learn more about the Säjai Foundation and its Wise Kids programs, and get registered to participate in the Amazing Walk!