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West Commons Playground at Central Park, Carmel, Indiana
Landscape Architecture by Michael Krosschell, RLA, Schneider Corp.


The Schneider Corp. Landscape Architecture Department was hired to design an addition to Central Park, the premier park in Carmel, Ind. The 25,000 sq. ft. area offers a big and bold, modern, challenging playground, a spray park, picnic shelters, restrooms, a play meadow, a small amphitheater, parking and boardwalk connections to an existing lagoon.
Photos: Landscape Structures Inc.


Caves recessed into the playground's boundary wall were intended to give autistic children a private space to withdraw from the hustle and bustle of the playground, but many kids like experiencing that space. Atop the natural Indiana limestone seating blocks wall offer views of the lagoon, an outdoor classroom and the amphitheater.

In 2013, the city of Carmel, Ind., began planning a large-scale destination playground in its Central Park. The play space would expand the Monon Community Center, which featured a fitness center, pool, and tennis and basketball courts. The Community Center had already become a gathering space for residents, and it made sense to the city to leverage that with additional outdoor play spaces.

The West Commons area of Central Park in Carmel, Ind., is designed to serve as a regional park in its own right. During the site development phase, the Schneider's landscape architecture team and Carmel/Clay Parks confirmed the key elements that would make up this portion of the park. This included a large playground, spray park, picnic shelters, restroom, a play meadow, small amphitheater, parking and boardwalk connections to the existing lagoon.

The challenge for the design team was to fit the large playground into a location that is a mix of restored native habitats. It was designed to present fun and functionality, while preserving the surrounding natural areas. This was accomplished by nestling the playground area in to the topography and buffering it with an existing hillside. A perch located above the lagoon provides for an overlook, with views of the lagoon and many native prairie plantings; a vastly different experience for park users when contrasted with the highly active playground area.


The soaring towers of the main playground structure can be seen from all angles of the park.


This Mobius custom climber is outfitted with easy-to-grip handholds that mimic climbing surfaces found in nature. The panels on the Mobius climbers are made of recycled, anodized aluminum.

Like many parks, the signature feature of the West Commons is the playground. This large interactive playground is designed with a variety of users and spectators in mind, including children with autism. The incidence of autism in Hamilton County is the highest in Indiana. Caves recessed into the playground's boundary wall were included in the design and allow for children on the spectrum to have a private space to withdraw and gather themselves before reentering the playground. This feature, and others, were developed in consultation with the Carmel/Clay Parks' inclusion supervisor, and are a model for future development.

The park surrounds a large custom shelter building that serves as a place for picnicking and also houses the parks restrooms and mechanical facilities. The large shelter building is centrally located between the two active spaces of the park, the playground and spray park. The spray park at West Commons is designed to serve residents of local neighborhoods, as well as overflow from the popular waterpark nearby. An outdoor classroom and small amphitheater space provide views of the existing lagoon are the natural Indiana limestone seating blocks built into the hill. A functional overflow weir catches rainwater and spray park run off for the purpose of treating and cleaning the water prior to discharging into the lagoon. A separate dry detention and bioswale treatment area runoff from the parking lot.


The Evos® (Landscape Structures) is designed for kids ages 5 to 12. This configuration motivates children to navigate over, under and through net climbers, bridges and more.


This Weevos® was included in the playground design to provide a specific play space for children ages 2 to 5. The structure is composed of 3 1/2 " diameter ground-to-ground steel arches joined together by powdercoated cast aluminum ball clamps.

This project blends well with the rest of Central Park and the surrounding neighborhoods. The placement and design of the park features enforce the preeminence of the natural environment while providing many educational opportunities for the user, particularly with the use of the alternate stormwater treatment methods and the up‐close interaction with nature the park allows. The West Commons phase completes Carmel/Clay Parks' vision for Central Park. Since its opening in September of 2016, it has proven to be a great amenity for Carmel and Clay Township residents.

Owner/Developer: Carmel Parks and Recreation
Architect: Schneider Corp. / Michael Krosschell, RLA
Sales Consultant: Countryside Play Structures / Tiffany Polzin, CPSI & Cap Boso
Playground Equipment Manufacturer: Landscape Structures Inc.
Shade Manufacturer: Poligon
Engineer: DB Engineering
Contractor: Patterson Horth
Equipment Installer: Countryside Play Structures

As seen in LASN magazine, September 2017.

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December 8, 2019, 7:52 am PDT

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