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Three to Play

Editor, Stephen Kelly

This feature presents three playgrounds in the San Francisco Bay area designed by Carducci & Associates of San Francisco:

  • MayFair Community Center and Park
    A San Jose playground with extensive safety surfacing, a pirate motif, sculptured amphibians, a splash pad and the latest playground equipment.

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  • Helen Diller Family Play Area
    Julius Kahn Playground, a playground within San Francisco's Presidio to serve the military community and neighboring districts. The playground has custom-designed fencing, nature-imprinted paving, a water play sculpture, innovative play equipment and a unique historic setting respected in the design and use of materials.

  • Mountain View Childcare Center
    Mountain View, a facility that has colorful art elements and age appropriate play for children as young as six weeks old and as grown up as five years old.

MayFair Community Center and Park, San Jose

The giant tortoise and salamander sculptures were designed by Interplay Design Inc. and Carducci Associates. The materials for the amphibians are precast concrete and terrazzo and make for unique ADA play pieces.
Photos by david Wakely Photography

The 22,000 square-foot Mayfair Community Center is surrounded by an eight-acre park bordered by residential developments. The landscape was awarded the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEEDA(R)) for environmental sensitivity and sustainability. LEED practices included preserving existing trees, planting native trees, xeriscaping with colorful, attractive, drought-tolerant plants, including a succulent garden at the entry plaza to harmonize with the mission-style architecture. Sensitive riparian areas were maximized and native trees added for stormwater mitigation. Renovated park areas with shaded ADA play equipment and renewed picnic areas, along with improved lighting throughout the park, have increased usability, site safety and visibility.

The accessible Pirate Ship has play elements to port, starboard and on the upper deck, including a slide, steering wheel, flag, binoculars, trumpet and seats. Shipmates can climb the ropes to reach the wheel and alter course.

A large stone pine, native shrub roses and London plane trees (right) are the prominent landscape elements.

The ADA certified playground features a custom shade sail, giant animal sculptures, and unique play equipment.

Each arc of the Rainbow has five misting jets that put out a combined 40-60 gpm. The on-demand rotating Spray Cannons can direct water high, low or in a full circle. The concrete splash pad has a broom finish for sure footing.

Renovated park areas include custom shade sails over the ADA play equipment.

The water park integrates bright colors and an open-space "tropical environment," showcasing a water-spouting palm tree, rainbow mister, water bucket apparatus and shooting cannons.

The Mayfair Community Center playground is covered with wall-to-wall Tot Turf (Robertson Industries), a polyurethane binder mixed with recycled, shredded tire buffings for the cushion layer, capped with EPDM. The safety surfacing meets or exceeds all ASTM, CPSC, ADA and IPEMA poured-in-place standards, according to the landscape architect.

With five buckets constantly refilling and spilling (Fumbling Five by Vortex), the action is non-stop and soaking. The flow rate is 9 to 15 gpm.

MayFair Community Center and Park Featured Vendors

  • Interplay Design Inc.: Custom Snake Bench, Turtle & Salamander Sculptures (Design by: Carducci Associates)
  • Custom Canopy: Shade Sail Canopies
  • Dynamo: Play Equipment
  • FreeNotes: Tuned Drums
  • Kompan: Play Structures/Equipment
  • Robertson Industries: Poured-in-Place Tot Turf Rubber Surfacing
  • Vortex: Spray Pad Elements

Helen Diller Family Play Area, Julius Kahn Playground, San Francisco

Julius Kahn Playground boasts cutting-edge playground equipment and a sculptural water play element (bottom photo). There are four tennis courts, a baseball diamond and an outdoor basketball court. A large grassy field is used for soccer, lacrosse and other sports. Three walking paths lead off into the Presidio woods.

Julius Kahn (JK) Park is tucked along the southern border of the Presidio, serving the military community and families from neighboring districts.

Presidio oaks are the backdrop for the Blazer, a distant relative of the seesaw. The movement of the piece changes with the number and position of the riders, with room for up to three kids in the middle. The Spinner Bowl (bottom photo) is self-descriptive.

People come from all around the San Francisco Bay area to visit and play in what is considered as one of the most successful playgrounds in the region.

The Galaxy play equipment (Kompan) offers challenging play activities in a horizontal framework of stabiles, links, anchors and accesses.

Carducci & Associates developed the historic park renovation for the Helen Diller Family Foundation, in coordination with the Presidio, Friends of Recreation & Parks and the city of San Francisco Recreation and Parks Department. The goal of the project was to create a playground with a Parisian expression of style that would be comfortable to all ages and cultures. The park incorporates custom-designed fencing, nature-imprinted paving, water play sculpture, innovative play equipment and a unique historic setting respected in the design and use of materials.

Maple leaves and a Mexican fan palm leaf were hand set in the concrete walkway.

Accessibility and respect of the surrounding neighborhood and cultural and landscape histories of the Presidio were important aspects of the design. The many neighborhood and local schoolchildren who use the park necessitated a durable design.

The Biggo Flyer (Dynamo) lets kids sit, stand or lie down while swaying the large, hammock-like dish back and forth through its parabolic arc. One to four users at a time can enjoy the ride.

Sand and water are central characters in the interactive play area. Children are encouraged to pile sand in the fountain, to splash and to explore the shallow troughs running along the fountain's length. By opening new avenues of play to children, we encourage their creative development, and the playground becomes an active force in the creation of playtime narratives that help children to socialize, learn and develop as individuals.

A concrete seatwall abuts the sandbox and terminates into a planter with flax.

The San Francisco Chronicle named the Julius Kahn Playground one of the "Top Playgrounds" in 2006. The project also received a Design Merit award from the ASLA/Northern California Chapter.

Carducci Associates and Interplay designed this custom water play sculpture with abalone waterspouts and a smooth stone-set water basin.

Julius Kahn Playground Featured Vendors

  • Dynamo: Playground Equipment
  • Interplay: Fencing & Water Sculptures (Design by Carducci Associates)
  • Kompan: Playground Equipment
  • Robertson Industries: Poured-in-Place Surfacing, Tot Turf Rubber

Mountain View Childcare Center, Mountain View, Calif.

The ornamental metal fence and gate at the Mountain View Childcare Center are the design of Robert Ellison.

Carducci & Associates helped design the Mountain View Child Care Center to provide high-quality child care services and activities to the residents of this south bay area city. On visiting the site, the firm provided a mitigation plan and communicated concerns about the existing trees and impacts from construction.

The firm developed strong working relationships with the city, public works and the contractors to design the best optimal play areas. The center opened in September 2008 and provides care to children from six weeks old to five years of age.

The childcare center gets the kids started on music early on. The six tuned drums of varying heights are made with replaceable vinyl heads ranging from 15 to six inches in diameter. The drum bases are permanently installed in the ground in a slightly arching arrangement Hanging chimes and the outdoor Pegasus (xylophone) complete the musical education. Trex, recycled wood decking, is used around the chimes and xylophone.

This playground showcases a colorful art gate and fence. Other unique elements include the stationary musical instruments and custom water feature. The majority of this playground is shaded by native oaks. Bill Gould Design was the project architect.

Mountain View Childcare Center Featured Vendors

  • Robert Ellison: Ornamental Metal Fencing
  • FreeNotes: Musical Instruments
  • Interplay: Sculptural Precast Concrete Water Feature (Design by: Carducci Associates)
  • Kompan: Custom Play Structure & Playground Equipment
  • Monumental Fencing: Prefabricated Fencing
  • Trex: Wood Deck


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November 13, 2019, 7:30 pm PDT

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