Fayerweather Street School

Location: Cambridge, MA
Size: 20,300 SF

The Fayerweather Street School was particularly interested in making some areas physically challenging and promoting healthy risk taking. One solution was a custom-designed giant slide, 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 encourages cooperative multi-age play. Another successful strategy was designing areas along the site’s perimeter for quieter, small group activities. These spaces 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 this key infrastructure problem, allowing the school to address their more ambitious goals. 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: “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.