2014 BOY Winner: Outdoor

PROJECT NAME Académie Lafayette
LOCATION Kansas City
FIRM KEM Studio
SQ. FT. 7,000 SQF

Kids have vivid imaginations. But barren asphalt doesn’t do much to encourage mental or physical creativity. Which was precisely the quandary faced by this elementary-level charter school, which had an empty lot next door. 


Principal Jonathon Kemnitzer’s two children are enrolled there, as luck would have it, and he was asked to transform the 7,000 square feet into a playground. Not only did he agree, but he also completed the project pro bono with the help of funds raised through a crowdsourcing Web site and a local nonprofit. Other parents from the school donated materials and even participated in the construction process—he’d made it easy for anyone to lend a hand by basing most of the design on three basic modules. The result is just as much contemporary sculpture as playground. Recycled planks of wood composite, commonly used as decking, form a bridge that features polyurethane climbing holds on one side and a stainless-steel slide on the other. Underneath the bridge, the 40-inch clearance is just high enough for little explorers. Found car and truck tires have become a balancing path. And wood chips make a kid-friendly, earth-friendly cushion for the concrete foundation. Imaginations now run wild.


“The result is just as much contemporary sculpture as playground” 


Project Team: Brad Satterwhite; Jon Taylor; Chris Grill.

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