“The physical campus of the University of Cincinnati has a recent history of a built environment that challenges typical assumptions about the land and the constructed spaces,” says Mary Beth McGrew, university architect. “This newly designed landscape, while specifically designed for the youngest learners on campus, affords similar opportunities for learning by all ages as the outdoor environment is experienced a little differently. I expect the space will be well-liked, and well used by many on campus.”
“This creates a research environment that compliments the university’s academic and physical master plan,” says Leonard Thomas, UC project manager for planning, design and construction. “On the other hand, this whimsical addition to our spectacular campus is an uncharacteristic, unexpected part of the university environment that will be recognized as a noteworthy addition to the university landscape.”
“Cincinnati Nature Center is excited to be collaborating with the University of Cincinnati’s Arlitt Center in creating the Nature PlayScape Initiative,” says William M. Hopple III, executive director, Cincinnati Nature Center. “Through our efforts, we hope to ensure that all children in our region will have access to nature play by serving as a demonstration site for others to ‘Nature PlayScape’ their own facilities and to educate parents, grandparents, teachers and mentors of the physical, emotional, intellectual and spiritual benefits nature play has to healthy development of all children.”
The “vine cutting” that formally opened the architectural signature landscape was performed by project landscape architects Robin Moore, an international authority on the design of children's play and learning environments, and Rachel Steele Robinson, who also has children who formerly attended UC’s Arlitt Center.
Frank Russell, director of the UC Community Design Center and the Niehoff Urban Studio, provided support in the professional development of the architects for the PlayScape project. The center also helped with site selection and a feasibility study.
The project is supported with funding from the UC Ada Hart Arlitt Endowment Fund, the UC College of Education, Criminal Justice, and Human Services (CECH), The Procter & Gamble Fund and Cincinnati-Hamilton County Community Action Agency. Fundraising for the project continues through the UC Foundation.
UC’s Arlitt Center was previously awarded a two-year, $330,124 grant from the National Science Foundation to explore how children can learn in this natural environment.
The Arlitt PlayScape
Early Findings Indicate PlayScapes Are A Natural Hit With Children