Artists at Play, an imaginative, artists-created playground offering active, FREE FUN for all ages, located in the plaza between the Museum of Pop Culture (MoPOP) and Seattle Center Armory, just north of the Monorail station.
The playground at Seattle Center was inspired by the drawing you see below. The design team was made up of playground specialists from Highwire, landscape architects, artists, and local non-profits. The team came together to transform the child’s imagined playground into a reality. Highwire takes the power of play very seriously.
The design for the new public skate plaza at Seattle Center was approved by the Seattle Design Commission on August 1, 2019. Construction of the new Seattle Center Skate Plaza has begun as of September 2020.
Connect to the extraordinary at Seattle Center, an active civic, arts and family gathering place in the core of our region. More than 30 cultural, educational, sports and entertainment organizations that reside on the grounds, together with a broad range of public and community programs, create thousands of events on the 74-acre campus and attract over 12 million visitors each year.
This has got to be one of the best FREE playgrounds ever conceived! Conveniently located by the monorail/ Seattle Centre/ Museum of Pop Culture/ Chihuly Art & Gardens/ International Fountain/ Space Needle, this outdoor playground just adds to the fun-filled, awe-inspiring, creative energy that embodies Seattle.
- 305 Harrison St, Seattle, 98109-4623, Washington
- The Site
- Design Team
- Art + Play Design Elements
The Seattle Center, home of the iconic Space Needle, has become Seattle’s locus of community engagement. On the 74-acre campus, the Seattle Center hosts over thirty separate organizations whose venues and programs feed the community spirit with unique and inspiring opportunities to share, learn, and engage in nearly 5,000 cultural and sporting events. The purpose of the Seattle Center has always been to create exceptional experiences and environments that delight and inspire the human spirit and build stronger communities, so when a three-acre plot needed a facelift, an intricate, multi-disciplinary urban design project called Art and Play was initiated, but its core inspiration came from the community’s most important demographic: its children.
With representatives from the Seattle Center, Center Art LLC, the Seattle Center Foundation, the Seattle Center Advisory Commission and the city’s Office of Arts & Culture, the Artists at Play advisory group defined the project’s guidelines and selected its design team. A challenging list of design requirements for the project was proposed: 1. Free and open to the public at all times of the year. 2. Full integration with the site and the Seattle Center Campus. 3. Be engaging to kids of all abilities and meet the needs of a wide spectrum of users. 4. NOT your typical playground, must integrate art and creativity. 5. Be visually stunning and leave a lasting impression. A passionate and enthusiastic group consisting of two artists, a landscape architect firm, and a playground equipment distributor came together to propose what they thought was the ideal Seattle Center play space. With such diverse skills, high expectations, and numerous stakeholders, the design team faced an incredible...
Center Art, LLC is a privately owned business of the Howard S. Wright Family, the same group who built the Space Needle for the 1962 World's Fair. Center Art, LLC gifted $1 million for development of the Artists at Play playground as part of a community partnership agreement to provide educational opportunities and other social benefits to the general public. In addition to this philanthropic gift, the Seattle Center allocated approximately $700,000 for landscaping, terracing, and the construction of a patio to further revitalize the play area.
The design team that won the Seattle Center’s call for a playground design included artists Trimpin and Judith Caldwell, landscape architect firm Site Workshop, and playground specialists Highwire, Inc. “Our team knew right from the start that the focus has to be on kids…as an iconic space, our design should offer a play space that kids can’t get anywhere else” said artist Judith Caldwell. Both Trimpin and Caldwell were tasked with translating children’s ideas and stories into art. “Often kids don’t have the words to express their thoughts but when illustrated, their stories are wonderful,” Judith added admiringly. Sound artist Trimpin is widely known for his ingenious talent for creating symphonic sounds from Dr. Suess-like gadgets, doohickeys, widgets, doodads, and thingamajigs, objects far removed from what most consider to be musical instruments. His sound sculptures and installations are located across the country with some of his most notable work at the Seattle-Tacoma Airport...
“The idea behind adding art to play came from the Wright Family: it was important that there be a strong art integration and that it be inclusive” says Layne Cubell, Planning Advisor for the Seattle Center. In an effort to unite sound with the art pieces and play structure, children were requested to share stories about the interesting sounds they hear every day. These stories evolved into the nine distinct sculptures installed in the park: 1. The Bronze Rebus Riddleis found at the center of the labyrinth. 2. The seven letters on the Letter Treeare connected by wheel cranks and correspond to musical notes. With each turn, children train their musical ear as each note is played. 3. The giant earphones found at the Listening Stationsoffer a multitude of sounds from falling rain to people talking. 4. As parents, we often tell our kids not to throw stones. With the Pebble Play Station, children are encouraged to scoop up handfuls of pebbles and send them down the stump sculptures to hea...
There is an overwhelming consensus that the success of the project was due to the joint effort put in by all team members and stakeholders. “The success of the project was the result of the collaboration between all stakeholders. Despite everyone having different ideas, the project came together. Artists had the freedom to be creative while the staff at the Seattle Center played a role in keeping the project on target”, declared Layne Cubell from the Seattle Center. Judith Caldwell agreed: “There were a large number of people involved however with enough well intended people, with patience, they can create something spectacular.” For Clayton Beaudoin and his colleague, landscape architect Matt Wood, what made this project different from other playground designs was collaboration and customization. “We had close collaboration with artists. There is a lot of interaction in the park, which is a direct reflection of the interaction of the team working together harmoniously.” Because of...
May 19, 2015 · Part of the Century 21 Master Plan for Seattle Center, the playground is a collaboration between Northwest artists Trimpin and Judith Caldwell, Seattle Center, Site Workshop and Highwire. The goal was to create an interactive, artistic place for families and children of all ages.
The stately Seattle Center Armory continues to serve generations of visitors. The “Center of the Center” features fresh, local foods and beverages. Taste the new savory and sweet offerings, stay for the many cultural celebrations and take in the sights and sounds of Seattle Center on the new 60-foot outdoor deck.
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May 26, 2015 · Engage Your Senses at Seattle’s Newest Playground After nearly two years of planning and development, Seattle has a new playground that gives a whole new meaning to adventure time. Artists at Play, located in the Next 50 Plaza next to EMP, is an imaginative, artists-created outdoor playground designed for kids of all ages.
- Natalia Dotto