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Mega Tower Playgrounds

An Aesthetic Answer to Unique Park Planning

These double towers are at Anthem Park in Anthem, Ariz. The photo shows the structures' above-ground play levels, which are enclosed by mesh that gives full visibility but prevents children from climbing on exterior surfaces.

Landscape architects and park planners who are looking for dynamic yet safe playgrounds will be pleased with the new Mega Tower system offered by the Swedish company HAGS (for Hultgren, Andersson and Gustavsson). The system is unlike any playground that most landscape architects are familiar with--complete with exciting towers and spiral slides. Its impressive 34-foot-tall towers attract families and children from afar while making an inviting statement about the park.

"As park planners and designers, we are always looking for new and different products and features to incorporate into our overall designs," explained Ken Keitel of Terraspec, Inc. When Keitel was planning Vlasis Park in Ballwin, Mo., his design team discovered the play system. "We were looking for a focal point for the park that would be both aesthetic and functional. The tower fit the bill. The height, scale and pleasing proportions of the tower let us not only to draw attention to the playground activities within the park, but also to the park itself."

More than 350 of the playgrounds are located in countries all over the world. The largest is this three-tower system in Shenzhen, China.

The city's desire to make Vlasis its flagship park, visible from a major road, was achieved with the product. "The city is very pleased with the Mega product," Keitel said. "It fits aesthetically within the park environment and provides a variety of play opportunities for children of differing abilities and age groups."

The system has enclosed deck areas that protect children on its upper levels. "The enclosed tower allows the children to be safe in a protected area while being 20 feet above the playground surface and gives parents full view of their children," explained Dan Cleland of the Phoenix-based Cleland Group. The firm designed the award-winning Aliante Nature Discovery Park in North Las Vegas. When planning Aliante Park, the designers were looking to add a playground that would offer unique play opportunities while complementing its dinosaur paleontology theme. Working with Hags USA staff, the Cleland Group transformed the playground into the "living quarters" of the dinosaur site by incorporating elements into the structure.

The playgrounds can be assembled in a wide range of configurations. This playground is shaded by redwoods in Campbell, Calif.

"The end result was not only an exciting play feature for the children but an addition to the overall 'themed' play area that blended well with the custom dinosaur play elements that we designed," Cleland explained. "The tower was a big hit with the kids. We built it, they came... and have never left!"

The Aliante Nature Discovery Park has won several awards and has been endorsed by the Las Vegas Museum of Natural History as a satellite education center, Cleland said. In 1999, his firm also worked with designers on a triple-tower project in Anthem, Ariz., with equally-impressive results.

The playgrounds offer landscape architects structures that are dynamic and aesthetically pleasing, while meeting the strictest guidelines and standards for ASTM, CPSC, IPEMA and ADA. "The tower system has metal mesh panels that provide a contained play environment on the upper levels of the play system, enabling children to enjoy the thrill of being as high as eighteen feet in the air while playing on an outdoor playground and letting them slide to the bottom in a contained spiral slide," explained Billy Joyce, sales and marketing director for Hags USA.

This playground at Ballwin, Missouri's Vlasis Park fits in an open space near the park's tennis courts. The tower is prominent from a nearby road--drawing motorists' attention to the park.

"One aspect of the system we found desirable is related to safety," Keitel added. "The tower is completely enclosed by protective mesh metal barriers at all levels, permitting full view into and out of the structure, preventing children from entering into any unsafe zones."

There are more than 20 tower systems across the United States, including Anthem, Ariz., North Las Vegas, Nev., Campbell, Calif., Ballwin, Mo., Katy, Texas. and Inver Grove Heights, Minn.

There are over 350 Mega play sites globally with the largest in Shenzhen, China. Hags is based in Anbey, Sweden, but was purchased by St. Louis-based PlayPower Inc. in 2000. The deal created the world's largest commercial playground equipment manufacturer.

And finally, what about theme parks? "We offer a variety of theming options and have worked on notable theming projects with Six Flags, Busch Gardens, Sea World, Holiday World and others," Joyce said. "Moreover, the towers are appealing to a variety of audiences from YMCAs to amusement parks and attractions to city parks."

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December 14, 2019, 8:13 am PDT

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