Fayerweather Street School

Location: Cambridge, MA
Size: 20,300sf

The Fayerweather Street School was particularly interested in making some areas physically challenging and promoting healthy risk taking. One response was a custom-designed giant slide that is 20 feet long and 10 feet high, which can sit 6-8 children across. Not only does it fit the criteria of “physically challenging”, but it has also encouraged cooperative multi-age play. Another strategy that was used successfully at Fayerweather was to develop areas along the spaces perimeter designed for quieter, small group activities. These spaces can allow for exploration and investigation, and create a connection to nature.

At Fayerweather, where the existing central play space was not so affectionately called “the mud pit”, drainage and durability were key issues.  By improving drainage and installing durable artificial turf in high use areas, the design team solved the key infrastructure problem, which allowed the more ambitious goals of the school to be addressed. Head of School, Ed Kuh, said “I realized that with turf, they could use their whole bodies, including their hands and knees… what we had assumed would be a space primarily for fast action running games has also proven to be a cozy place for cooperative play.”

There are also “unprogrammed” spaces in Fayerweather as “green” and “stage” areas that foster social and emotional development, by allowing children to create new games, negotiate ways to use the space, and work together.