2017 Awards

Design: Parks, Recreation, Trails and Open Spaces

Merit Award

Magical Bridge Universal Playground
Palo Alto, CA
RHAA Landscape Architecture + Planning
Verde Design
Principal Architects: Cordelia Hill, Principal Emeritus
Client: City of Palo Alto

The spinning zone allows children (and adults) to feel care-free and weightless.
Isolation cocoons provide retreat opportunities in each zone to decompress from over stimulation.
Oak preservation and bright colors were two important elements in the design.
The Playhouse provides an accessible stage for impromptu performances.
The slide mound offers four different slides and connects to the elevated walk.
An elevated walkway allows children of all abilities to reach expanded heights.
Spinning, swinging, sliding, climbing, and creative play are divided into distinct zones.
Magical Bridge Playground rendering
Final Magical Bridge Playground Master Plan.
Initial “Big Picture” Magical Bridge Playground Master Plan.

The Magical Bridge Playground is about bridging the physical and social barriers which prevent children of all ages and abilities from uniting together in play. Working with the Friends of Magical Bridge and the City of Palo Alto, the playground was designed to give children of all abilities the opportunity to play independently and cooperatively. Children can move through the trees on an elevated walk, or hunt for hidden treasure in the Willow Grove, or swing, sway, spin, and slide, all on surfaces and equipment without barriers. To help children who may be unable to learn quickly how to maneuver through a large space, the playground has distinct zones for different types of activities: spinning, swinging, sliding, climbing, and exploring nature. The play opportunities are diverse, to meet the diverse developmental needs of children without segregating by one’s ability to participate in a particular type of activity.