Another Van Valkenburgh Designed Playground Cited for Burn Hazard

“The Mountain”, a metal-clad climbing dome at the new Union Square playground in Manhattan, has the same problem as the smaller domes at the playground on Pier 1, Brooklyn Bridge Park.

New York Post: When children were scorched on the new metal playground structures in Brooklyn Bridge Park last month, large festival tents were put up to keep the shiny domes in the shade — but the city did nothing to safeguard a nearly identical, but larger, piece of equipment at Union Square Park. …

[T]he problem should not have come as a surprise to city officials, given that the new Brooklyn Bridge Park playground, which was designed by the same landscape architect, Michael Van Valkenburgh, had the same problem in April.

Free-Range Kids author Lenore Skenazy, writing in Salon, ironically ascribes the use of smooth metal-clad domes in playgrounds to fear of injury, litigation, and liability.

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  • ABC

    I read that about the domes and I can’t believe that. I look at those domes and think, lawsuit. It’s natural to climb and then get into a standing position which then means toddlers go tumbling down a metal rock. Like playing a terrifying game of “king of the mountain”. I wonder how they expected the kids to play on them? I really can’t imagine.

    Also — those slides at the new playground will be much hotter and impossible to shade (and so will close). Those cement sides on the sand box also an odd choice. Ditto the lack of places for strollers. There will be no sight lines in the new playground so parents will have to “helicopter” their kids and thus will be mocked on blogs like this.

    Too bad they didn’t hire a playground designer.

  • Joe

    The whole thing is weird. Who put the thought and testing into this? No one. Why bother designing a playground for kids when neither play or kids were kept in mind.

  • Andrew Porter

    Looking forward to the warmest days of summer, when kids will be shooed off the domes so that people can fry eggs on them.

  • nabeguy

    Say what you want about these domes (and I already have), my 8 year-old daughter does happen to love them, and especailly loves the interplay with the toddler set, who she helps in their attempt to get to the “top of the hill”.

  • ashton

    Am I the only middle-aged poster who remembers burning her tush on the hot swings and the frying-pan like slides? Not to mention the sizzling seats in my father’s car in the pre-a.c. days. I mean, in the summer, you burn your tush. nu?

  • twentysevenyearold

    Similar to ashton, when I was a kid (living in the Midwest), the metal slides, swings, merry-go-rounds and other random playground equipment always got hot in the summer. When they did, we would just run around on the grass, play red rover, tag, duck-duck-goose, etc. I personally don’t have a problem with new playground design, in general. I think it helps children develop their sense of imagination and what not.

  • David on Middagh

    When I was young, I would come home from school after having walked uphill both ways in the snow to burn my fingers on the brass doorknob that had been heating up all day in the burning Vermont sun.

    I was a latchkey child.