State-of-the-Art Playground & School for Fort Dodge

January 24, 2018

Originally built in the 1920s, Duncombe Elementary in Fort Dodge, Iowa, had become dated. The playground itself contained equipment that was not up to code, sported a dated look and lacked cohesiveness since the play equipment was added in various stages over the years. The District decided to tear down the school and build a new state-of-the-art facility in its place.

ISG, the landscape architect and civil engineer for the project, did the design work for the new 65,000 square foot school. ABcreative acted as the play and recreation consultant.

State-of-the-Art Playground Underway

ABcreative consultant, Larry Rife, worked with ISG to create the playground design envisioned by the District and shareholder’s group.

Safety, usability and color of the play equipment topped the list of critical factors to address. In addition, we had a smaller area to work with after the school construction and needed to ensure adequate fall zones.

Through the design process, the team found the right combination of play equipment and colors while at the same time offering some unique features to complement the new school.

  • Inclusive play opportunities for children with limited abilities to access the play equipment from the ground level.
  • Educational components such as sign language, informational panels and musical features.
  • Installation of artificial turf on the 4,323 sq. ft. playground. Playground Grass Extreme, which doesn’t require infill, was chosen because of its natural look and affordability and was installed by ForeverLawn Des Moines.

Elements of Play

The play equipment addressed the climbing and balancing elements of play with some creative options:

  • Verto climbers have three climbing sections and can be used to link play events or provide access to platforms.
  • Verve climbing system lets kids choose to climb inside, outside, vertically traverse or overhead and fits well into any play environment.
  • Wave climbers and Jungle Vine Climber are trendy looking components that help children develop strength, balance and coordination.
  • Pod climbers encourage children to climb to different heights, building balance, strength and self-confidence.

The chimes panel added a sensory element of play, encouraging children to explore more about music and develop fine motor skills.

Another component for the playground included adding a basketball system.

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The ABcreative Experience

Larry was great to work with. We had several revisions to the design and layout; the owners and stakeholders wanted the look of one manufacturer and the elements of another. It was easy to ask Larry to move things around, tweak it here and there, and provide new cut sheets. He was always available to take a call and responded right away. Helpful, quick and accurate describes Larry.

— Nathan Gruver, ISG

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