Fayerweather Street School

Client: Fayerweather Street School
Location: Cambridge, MA
Size: 20,300 SF

The Fayerweather Street School was 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 six to eight children across. Not only does it fit the criteria of “physically challenging”, but it has also encouraged 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 its 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.”

The new play space provides a multitude of play opportunities for the school community that includes children from ages 3-14 and has sparked the students’ imaginations to create new games and ways to play. studioMLA Architects conducted design workshops with teachers, students, and parent groups to guide the design for the renovation of their play spaces. This project was completed in September 2013.