New Yard and Playground for Three Schools in Harlem

New York, NY
Playground for Three Schools

A yard used by over a thousand students a day was badly in need of a renovation. We gave it a budget-conscious makeover that supported multiple uses for a wide range of kids.

The yard at 235 West 113 Street is shared by three schools located in the same building: Success Academy Harlem 4 (a K-4 school), the STEM Institute of Manhattan (K-5), and the Opportunity Charter School (6-12). While this yard is used throughout the day by over a thousand students from these three schools during recess and physical education periods, it was badly in need of a renovation. Many of its elements, such as its playground and basketball court, were in poor condition.

Playground Design

With multiple schools and grades using the yard at any given time, groups of kids are often restricted to one area. As such, the main focus of our redesign was to support multiple types of play in each area. Additionally, Success Academy—the school driving the renovation—was only able to secure some of the funding needed—so working within tight budget constraints was a must.

The new 30,000-sf yard now features a soccer field and a basketball court, between which will be picnic tables for outdoor lunches and socialization. The new playground, 10,000 sf in size, features structures that allow all kinds of inclusive play for a variety of ages: a large mound covered in artificial turf, with a net climber, a slide, and a rock-wall climbing feature; another, larger net climber shaped like a rocket ship; and a play structure that kids can climb upon and rotate. To the side are planters with trees, accessible ramps leading into the school building, and a mural on the side of a building that would ordinarily be unpainted brick.