Magazine article Sunset

In Five Days They Built Rainbow City

Magazine article Sunset

In Five Days They Built Rainbow City

Article excerpt

RAINBOW CITY WAS built in five days by a beehive's worth of volunteer workers in all sizes. More than 3,700 community members helped construct the 10,000-square-foot playground, which rises from the northeast corner of Community Park in Davis, California.

The distinctive pointed spires, elevated walkways, ramps, swinging bridges, secret halls, and tile-covered walls seemed to grow right before the eyes of their principal designers--the town's elementary school children.

A year of organizing, designing, and inspired fund-raising preceded the well-orchestrated construction days. The project involved volunteers from a wide cross-section of the entire community: city government, the chamber of commerce, local businesses, interested citizens, parents, teachers, and the children. The dedicated workers successfully raised almost $110,000 and created a play structure that would have cost more than $300,000 if built privately.

To make the project flow smoothly, the organizing group of parents hired architect Robert Leathers of Ithaca, New York, who has helped hundreds of communities develop plans and organize to build playgrounds. His $13,000 fee covered consultations on a design day and an organization day, plans, two consultants for the five days of construction, and such informational material as step-by-step directions.

Although the parkland belongs to the city of Davis, the local chamber of commerce sponsored Project Playpark during the planning and construction phases. This permitted the project to gain nonprofit status and obtain liability insurance.

To allow Project Playpark to become eligible for discounts on building materials, to provide a source of experienced craftsmen, and to ease the stockpiling and moving of mountains of needed supplies, a local construction firm was designated as supervising contractor.

Turning design dreams

into reality

On Design Day, a member of Leather's firm met with youngsters ages 6 through 11, listened to their ideas, and reviewed their drawings.

After distilling the children's ideas, the firm presented a plan that included the best suggestions from these would-be playground architects: a monster maze, mirrors in a tunnel, a labyrinth, twisty slides, sliding poles, a shaky bridge, a tunnel of tires, dinosaur swings, a giant beehive, a pirate spaceship, balance beams, and a train with a steering wheel. …

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