Playground Renovation, Part II, Playground Design Process: How to Select a Playground Designer

Custom Playground Design Project In Progress

Whether planning for a playground renovation project, or a new project, design should be considered an important part of the overall process.

In recent years, commercial playground equipment safety codes and standards have become rather complex, requiring designers to have a good knowledge of the industry and the latest safety codes and regulations per US CPSC Publication 325, ASTM F-1487-11 and ADA accessibility standards.

Designing a commercial playground involves important considerations such as staying within the established budget for the project, establishing an appropriate age group for the intended users (i.e., 2-5, 5-12 or 2-12 years) and incorporating the proper level of challenge in the type of equipment selected so that it is safe and functional for both the youngest as well as the oldest child within the selected age group (safe for a 5 year old, yet challenging enough for a 12 year old). Architectural, aesthetic and visual elements must also be considered so that the final product stays within the context of its surrounding and offers a visual harmony that complements the existing architecture of the site.

Given all of the considerations mentioned above, it is advisable to consider working with a qualified playground designer to assist during this process. Once a qualified playground designer is selected, he or she should meet with the customer to determine exactly what is needed and should also visit the site to gather important information in order to facilitate the design process. Once a site plan is drawn, the playground designer can start working on an age appropriate design with various play activities grouped together in a layout which is logical and functional. Other considerations include providing ADA accessibility for the equipment as well as an accessible path of travel from the playground to adjacent buildings, parking lots, etc. Additionally, designers should orient slide chutes away from the path of travel, swings, etc.

MCCS Playground Renovation – San Diego

Generally speaking, most playground equipment manufacturers utilize their design department at their factory to produce designs for the end users, based on the site information submitted to them by their local dealer. The trouble with this method is that these designers are located at a facility perhaps thousands of miles away from the playground site, which puts them at a disadvantage of never having actually seen the playground site. So, they are designing based on second hand information provided to them by the dealer who may or may not have visited the actual site. Designs produced this way often lack important considerations, such as the visual and environmental aspects of the site. Cookie cutter designs are not necessarily ideal for the natural settings of a given site and may not be aesthetically pleasing in the overall context of the entire site facility.

It is preferred that customers consider selecting a playground dealer who offers in-house design capabilities. This way, a qualified designer can visit the site and gather important information needed to produce an ideal design that meets the customer’s requirements. Utilizing this method allows the customer to be fully engaged in the entire process resulting in a design that is well suited for the site and meets both space and budget requirements of the project.

Located in Carlsbad, CA and serving the southern California market, Pacific Play Systems, Inc. specializes in playground renovation and offers a full service design build process that encourages their customers to be fully engaged in all aspects of their project, from planning to design, to installation and beyond. With expertise in manufacturing, design and installation, the Pacific Play Systems’ design team works closely with the engineers and designers at Playcraft Systems, to produce some of the highest quality designs in the industry.


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