When I was in NYC last month, I was honored to be part of a round-table discussion on the topic of “Balancing Creativity and Risk In Playground Design”, courtesy of Jane-Clark Chermayeff and Architectural Playground Equipment. I’m preparing a series of posts on the topic, but one of the questions I have is when and how and why playground risk took on such an outsized importance in the public mind. As I pointed out in the meeting, no one makes a fuss if their child breaks their arm on the soccer field but on the monkey bars, well, a lawsuit is inevitable. Why is ‘play’ risk so different than ‘sport’ risk?
And did it all begin (at least in the US) with Kramer vs. Kramer? I can’t take credit for this cheeky but brilliant idea…my NYC friend Mike suggested it in a follow-up discussion of the meeting. Watch the 1979 clip, and leave your comments about playground risk; I’ll incorporate them into the posts I’m writing. (And do note the vintage playground equipment in the clip: classic Robert Moses jungle gym mixed with new modernist climbers.)