Doing Well by Doing Good: ESI Redesigns PS 166’s Playground

Posted October 25, 2010


Last year, ESI was asked to help design a playground at PS 166, an elementary school on the Upper West Side specializing in arts and music education.  ESI’s Founder and Principal Designer, Edwin Schlossberg, attended this school when he was a very little Big Thinker.

Last week, we celebrated the opening of the new playground at a ribbon cutting ceremony with Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer and City Councilwoman Gail Brewer, who provided funds and support for the project. The whole event was festive, the school staff was grateful for everyone’s help, and best of all, the children were excitedly running around and making use of their new playground.

The kindergartners had been without a playground for a year, as it had been dismantled to allow for renovation of the school’s exterior. The students and teachers couldn’t wait to have their playground back to let the kids engage in active play and burn off some afternoon energy.

To kick off the project, ESI staff members Curt Meissner, Joe Karadin and Kris Haberman met with Principal Debbie Hand, Parent Advisor Cameron King as well as select parents and teachers to conduct a “blue-sky” brainstorming session about their desires and needs for this new space. We then provided several active play and programmatic concepts to the committee for their review and selection.

Working together with Out2Play – a fantastic organization that provides play spaces for public school children all over NYC—and Margulies Hoelzli Architecture, ESI designed a vibrantly colored schoolyard with painted murals on both walls and floor that illustrate a transition from cityscape to naturescape (reflecting the school’s mission of ecological education), a play structure, large colorful concrete planters, smaller planters for the children’s gardens and a composting area for teachers to work with students.

Many of the experiences we create for kids—be it for a learning center, a website or this playground—revolve around play and its ability to develop cognitive, physical and social skills. It’s especially nice to create a play space in our own backyard and demonstrate ESI’s motto “Doing well by doing good!”

Kris Haberman

As Account Director, Kris Haberman is the primary liaison between ESI and our clients, ensuring that design decisions reach the client’s goals and expectations and that project milestones and dates are effectively communicated. Kris’s experience on ESI projects includes the development of master planning, visitor programming, interactive exhibit design and media architecture.

Previously, Kris was creative designer and owner of Stonecott Designs, a landscape design firm based in Manhattan that has brought life to private gardens throughout New York and New Jersey. Kris additionally has worked with the Madoo Conservancy conducting horticultural and historical research under the tutelage of Robert Dash and as a teaching and research assistant in the Sociology/Anthropology Department at Denison University. Kris is also a licensed beekeeper with the state of New York.

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