Stephen Wise Playgrounds
(click to enlarge)
An urban setting
Sand box
Access ramp for all kids
Green place for blocks and talks
A drive to the country
Where's Waldo's play roof
Terrace playscape for tiny tots
Only 11 feet wide and still room for trees

The Manhattan skyline is immediately recognizable by the unique wooden water towers that provide pressure for tall buildings. But lurking just below the line of sight is an equally unique but unnoticed feature of the Manhattan roofscape - the private school playground.

Most public schools have adjacent open space allotted for play and parks. However, many independent schools are folded into the urban fabric by occupying older buildings or space in larger institutions, like churches and community centers which have no ground level outdoor areas. The only flat outdoor space left for play is the roof. So, if you look up and see a ten foot tall chain link fence, chances are it's keeping a bunch of kids from flying off a play structure.

This play roof at a synagogue preschool deals with the typical problems of putting a playground on top of a building. The area is small and clearances are tight. Safety surface must be installed so that it won't interfere with drainage. Fences must be tall enough, especially if structures are built near them. Ladders to upper roofs have to be secured to prevent kids from climbing them. Planters should be irrigated, and shade provided because of extreme sun in summer. On top of all that, it has to be fun, accessible to all kinds of kids and allow space for a succah, (a temporary ceremonial hut used for meals during the holiday of Succoth) and other synagogue gatherings.

Only in New York.

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