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New York Hall of Science Kidpower! Playground

Occupancy

1997

Location

4701 111th Street Flushing, NY

Client

New York Hall of Science with support from the NYC Dept. of Cultural Affairs
"Look at those kids. Do they look like they need to be told what to do? No! They are engaged."
Phyllis Morrison, scientist & educator, quoted in “Working at Play: Informal Science Education on Museum Playgrounds” by Jane Clark Chermayeff

This 30,000 square foot teaching park was created to augment the interior exhibits of the New York Hall of Science, encouraging visitors to learn principles of physics through their interaction with large-scale exhibits. The Hall of Science building itself was built for the 1964/65 World’s Fair and the character of this park was seen as a renewal of the world’s fair spirit that still pervades the site after 30+ years. The large-scale elements of the park structure are designed to act as exhibits that raise intriguing questions about physical phenomena. A series of steel pylons carry a continuous metal tube and a suspended walkway alongside the Hall of Science terrace. The structure becomes an organizing element for the exhibits, with the regular rhythm of pylons providing a subtle sense of order within the exuberance of the shapes and colors that are the physical activities. Likewise, the alternating stripes of the resilient surfacing speak of order amidst the fun. The boardwalk, which makes an undulating edge along the outside of the park, holds a series of water exhibits, mirrors the shape of the Hall of Science building and makes a transition to the landscaping of the area that borders Flushing Meadows Corona Park. Here, somewhat away from the active exhibits, adults can watch smaller children play.

Awards:
National AIA, Citation for Exemplary Learning Environment, 1999
I.D. Annual Design Review, Award for Design Distinction, 1999

Publications:
Why We Build the City: NYC’s Design + Construction Excellence Program, ORO Editions, published 2013
New York 2000 by Robert A.M. Stern, 2007
“Kidpower: New York Hall of Science Playground,” Educational Facilities: 2002
“Environmental Graphics,” Communication Arts: 11/1998

Collaborators:
NYC Department of Design & Construction – construction administration; Jane Clark Chermayeff & Associates – content planner; Chermayeff & Gelsmar – exhibit designer; Richter Spielgeräte GmbH – water exhibit designer & fabricator; Weidlinger Associates – structural; Lilker Associates – mechanical; Lee Weintraub – landscape architect; Kugler Associates (now Kugler Ning) – lighting design; Dr. Frances Wallach – safety consultant