Supplement Feature - April 2012
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Go Play!

Vibrant Colors, Exciting Layouts Capture Interest

By Julie Knudson

Menke has seen an increase in the projects using molded plastics, "most likely as a result of the many variations that the playground manufacturers can create with this type of material," he said. It's a product that also readily lends itself to innovative features. "Touch/feel has been popular with the 2-12 age group, and some roto-molded plastics have been created to look like bugs, animals and tree logs," Menke said. With many playgrounds incorporating additional sense-stimulating features, plastics are often a popular choice. Manufacturers also use precast concrete to create exciting elements that can be designed and sculpted into fantastic, imaginative playscapes.

For projects where sustainability is a priority, environmentally-friendly playground materials are readily available. "I think you're seeing more recycled materials come in as the emphasis on green gets stronger and stronger," said Lloyd W. Reese, immediate past president of IPEMA and senior manager of research and development for a playground equipment manufacturer in Farmington, Mo. "You're seeing more playground designs that can contribute to LEED points for schools, so I think the carbon footprint and recycled content actually comes into play for a lot of people."