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The Community Design Collaborative awards $30,000 to Play Space design team winners

Abington Friends School: Phase II

Over the last year, we’ve had our eye on the Community Design Collaborative’s international Play Space Design Competition, a major piece of the 18-month Play Space Initiative funded by the William Penn Foundation. Last September, the Collaborative announced the three sites that participating design teams would focus on, and in March, three winners emerged: one for each site. (Infill Philadelphia: Play Space is a partnership of the Collaborative and the Delaware Valley Association for the Education of Young Children.)
"We’re really excited about all of them," says Play Space Program Manager Alexa Bosse. Thanks to supportive partners, the Collaborative was able to award a $10,000 prize to each of the three winning teams.
In all, there were forty submissions from six countries and 17 states. From the fall 2015 announcement of the sites (Parks & Rec’s Waterloo Recreation Center, the School District’s Haverford Bright Futures campus, and the Free Library’s Blanche A. Nixon/Cobbs Creek branch) to the final presentations in March, each proposal underwent a rigorous evaluation process.
Each submission was comprised of a 20-page packet detailing a plan to revitalize or create an eco-friendly 21st-century play space. The Collaborative assembled an expert jury featuring education, health and design professionals who judged the ideas based on cost estimates, maintenance plans, stormwater management and education strategies. The panel narrowed the field to nine finalists: three for each site.
Once they were announced, the Collaborative re-engaged site staffers, students, users and neighbors to vet the finalists' designs and get feedback. For about two weeks, each site had a ballot box courtesy of the Collaborative where locals could submit their votes for the plan they liked best. This yielded about 250 votes in all.
Finally, on March 16 at the Academy of Natural Sciences, an awards jury judged presentations from each team. The winning scores incorporated the initial expert jury’s recommendations, community members' votes, and the awards jury's decision.
"It’s really hard to get funding until you have a design," says Bosse of why the plans produced by the competition are so valuable for the participating sites. As part of the competition’s criteria, budgets could not exceed $1.5 million, reflecting the amount site stakeholders felt they could realistically raise.
And the winning plans? They include stormwater management and educational green space, a new splashpark at Waterloo Recreation Center, a Chutes and Ladders-themed lawn for Haverford Bright Futures, and a one-of-kind new play structure for the Cobbs Creek Library that emerged with the help from Philly second-graders. Stay tuned next week for a closer look at what the winning designs hope to create.
Writer: Alaina Mabaso
Source: Alexa Bosse, Community Design Collaborative
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