Artists at Play, an imaginative, artists-created playground offering active, FREE FUN for all ages is OPEN in Next 50 Plaza, located between EMP Museum and Seattle Center Armory, just north of the Monorail station.
A 35-foot Climbing Tower, recommended for children ages 5 to 12, joins an inviting Labyrinth with a Rebus at its center, human-powered ADA-accessible Carousel, child-inspired musical instruments, listening stations, sound swings, play mounds and "story lines" to offer child-friendly FUN in keeping with the mission and purpose of Seattle Center.
Here's how this unique and creative playground came to be. Initial planning work began in late 2012. After meetings earlier in 2013 to determine project direction, Center Art LLC, the project's funder, Seattle Center and Seattle Center Foundation convened a nine-member advisory group to help develop a project scope and artist/designer selection guidelines for an artful play space to be located on the former North Fun Forest site.
In August 2013 the partnership announced a call for a Pacific Northwest artist-led team to provide design and fabrication services for the Artists at Play project. A selection panel compromised of members of the greater community and Seattle Center reviewed the submissions and selected an artist team for the project.
The project team, comprised of celebrated Northwest artists Trimpin and Judith Caldwell, in partnership with Site Workshop and Highwire, succeeded in a BIG way in transforming the asphalt plaza between Seattle Center Armory and EMP Museum into a free, artistic, sound- and motion-filled play area (see link below for conceptual renderings and team resumes).
And how did they do so well? The team undertook a broad community engagement process to gather input and feedback from local kids so that the play area truly reflects the community's imagination and creative spirit. They worked these ideas into the project plans, construction began in early December 2014, and the rest, shall we say, is history in SOUND and MOTION.
The play area has helped to reinvent and enliven the three-acre Plaza. Private funding for Artists at Play was provided by Center Art LLC, as a provision of its lease for the Chihuly Garden and Glass museum. Seattle Center took advantage of teh project to undertake additional upgrades of Next 50 Plaza, adding landscaping terracing and a new patio deck.