Lafayette Playground, located in the Gravesend section of Brooklyn, was in need of clear and coherent organization. Meetings with the community yielded an extensive program which resulted in a program of passive activities fostered by a central synthetic turf area with an adjacent overlapping leaf shade structure. A paved area that repeats the leaf pattern hosts informal activities, and a defined pathway around the turf links all three corners of the site.
More active program uses include a basketball court, a picnic area furnished with sustainable benches and tables, as well as an “Urban Lab”, a feature specifically requested by the students of the adjacent high school. Their science-based curriculum is reflected in this informal outdoor classroom where they can test structural models, observe plant life cycles; and discover the physical aspects of sound using parabolic reflectors.
The existing perimeter trees were preserved and offer overall scale and shade. All planting areas feature a predominantly native, four-season palette and act as rain gardens. Overall, a more welcoming, greener feeling imbues the playground which is heavily-used and appreciated by the adjacent community.