Miller Company Landscape Architects has designed a new playground at Lafayette Park, located in the heart of San Francisco’s Pacific Heights neighborhood. The playground is a child-oriented landscape that connects nature to a child’s sense of exploration, adventure, and fantasy. Two monumental rock mountains connected by an arched footbridge form the focal point of The Gorge, constructed from 200 tons of russet- and ochre-colored stone slabs. A play structure called The Tower features a 17-foot high turret, one of many locations within the playground that offers observation and lookout points to both the playground and the larger park beyond. The Central Narrows at the Gorge’s interior forms a natural amphitheater extending to The Serpent’s Head, a large sculptural stone form that rises above an Open Cave that is patterned with pebbly skin and slithers into a 60-foot long meandering raised stone Creek, powered by children at multiple hand pump stations.
Crawl tunnels, climbing walls, rope nets, curving slides and swings pose opportunities for balancing, exploring, basking, group and solo play. The golden tones throughout the playground heighten the exhilaration and sensitivity of a child’s contact with the raw beauty of the natural elements.
The playground renovation is part of a makeover for the park funded in part by the city’s 2008 Clean and Safe Neighborhood Parks Bond. Additional support came from the Friends of Lafayette Park group. The playground includes a Donor Plaza paved with bronze medallions and granite pavers inscribed with the names of those who contributed to the playground renovation. Lafayette Park is a popular destination for neighborhood residents and visitors to the city. The park offers sweeping views, winding paths among mature trees, and a popular dog park.