Urban Play

Looking at this proposal for Atlanta, I can't help thinking there is something inherently elitist about urban recreation spaces that don't include playgrounds or sports courts and fields. The abstract, curvilinear forms that are fashionable today are almost completely irreconcilable with activities like basketball or soccer or softball. Those activities are pushed to second-class parks that receive virtually no programming effort and minimal maintenance. Add to that the sometimes stark racial and cultural divides between participants in these various sports and I can see why it is convenient for city staff to think that a "nice" park doesn't have sports facilities, perhaps only subconsciously. Designs with swooping paths and undulating terrain help conceal that prejudice. It isn't an entirely fair criticism of this particular project as they appear to be trying to add something public, green and walkable to what might otherwise be entirely vehicle oriented. 

In Dallas, the Klyde Warren Park has a playground. It is so popular that it is a little hazardous for toddlers at times. After that, zumba and pilates classes, an urban reading room, etc. For traditional sports, the next available spot is Griggs Park. Only 1,000 yards away but worlds apart.


  1. Not long after this post, Griggs Park was remade in a more contemporary and organic fashion. The key piece of missing infrastructure for the neighborhood is the playground.



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