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Dewitt Playground Renovation

By Hansy Better Barraza

Dewitt Playground
Renovation

P.L.A.Y. ( Play, Learn, Athletic, Youth ) Redesign

Studio Luz is thrilled about our collaboration with Boston artist Marlon Forrester on the Dewitt Playground renovations. This playground is a vital public space, and it provides an important recreational outlet for the surrounding community. The P.L.A.Y. (Play, Learn, Athletic, Youth) Redesign project incorporates sustainable and socially responsible architectural design that provides a new way of looking at how we use public spaces like basketball courts.

The city of Boston, via the Boston Arts Commission, invited artists and designers to apply to create permanent public artwork(s) to complement a renovation of Dewitt Playground in Roxbury, Massachusetts. The site is an existing public open space adjacent to Madison Park High School Athletic Complex. The community wanted to maintain the basketball programming in the form of two full courts and two half courts, while creating additional activity areas and amenities for all ages and interests. The area also includes passive seating zones, seat walls, cafe style tables and chairs, and series of shade structures created by local students at the northeast entry to the park.

Studio Luz Architects and Marlon Forrester were proud to be selected by the city of Boston for this collaborative project. This is all-important work for the community in Roxbury, and it has been a true honor to be part of their well-deserved success.

Design Concept

The concept was to create a more robust, resilient P.L.A.Y. space that facilitates intergenerational engagement and promotes health and wellness of the body and mind through play. Strategically, the project carefully considers the borders of the basketball courts, the sidelines, the bleachers, and other zones as sites for multiple activities.

Play + Seating
Play + Seating

The project creates areas for young children to play in close vicinity to the basketball court, as well space for caretakers to sit, watch, and enjoy the events. Areas for children are all-inclusive, with an assortment of structures, learning accessories, dramatic play elements, and ground level activities accessible to children using wheelchairs. Seating areas feature charging stations powered by the sun and wind located at benches or seats overlooking the game. The sidelines are places for outdoor workout spaces that function to enhance the physical conditioning of the athletes’ body (dips, pull-up, elliptical like bike).

We also considered dedicated spaces for food vendors or trucks, promoting nourishment of the body through food, and supporting the local economy. The P.L.A.Y. space incorporates graphics and wall murals that celebrate Boston black sports figures like Bill Russell and Reggie Lewis, who prioritized social activism in addition to their careers as athletes.

Sidelines
Shaded Canopies

Collaborative Project

Studio Luz approached this project as a collaborative effort with Boston-based artist and lecturer Marlon Forrester. Forrester’s work explores the intersection of the black male body and basketball, and how pop culture and the media commodify both. He contextualizes the signs, symbols, and rituals found within the game through a lens of pop culture and race. Forrester’s commitment to this artwork over the last ten years has lead the artist to deconstruct the geometric forms found within a basketball courts’ design and explore how public spaces such as basketball court functions as centers for not just competition but educational and artistic growth within Boston’s inner cities and abroad. As a Guyanese born graduate of both Yale School of Art and The School of The Museum of Fine Arts Boston, Forrester uses mixed media, painting, collage, installation, and performance to manifest his vision of the world. This project provided an opportunity for the development of a public space that critically intersects with Marlon Forrester’s work.

Mirror of History
Fence of History

Through the proposed collaboration between Marlon Forrester and Studio Luz Architects, the P.L.A.Y. Redesign project creates an opportunity to re-engage and re-imagine the role that public recreation spaces serve in Boston.

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