The Ryan Gray Playground for All Children was the first ADA accessible playground in the State of Kansas when opened in 1993. The playground was built in memory of Ryan Gray – a disabled student at Hillcrest Elementary, where the playground is located. Although renovated and updated in the last decade, the playground has lacked shade. During the 2023 fall semester, KU Architecture collaborated with the Hillcrest Elementary Parent Teacher Organization (PTO) to fundraise, design, and build a new shade pavilion adjacent to the playground.
The pleated form of the pavilion follows the existing curved concrete slab and picnic benches to seamlessly blend in with the existing playground. The colorful roof tiles compliment an already vibrant playground setting and reflect the international heritage of the student body at Hillcrest Elementary. The existing playground signage is framed by the roof and columns of the new shade pavilion to strengthen the unique forms already present at the site.
“These projects are so rich with real-world content for the students,” Van de Riet said. “I can’t imagine a better experience for them to get the holistic picture of what it takes to build even a relatively simple structure.”
From the beginning of the project, USD 497 requested the pavilion be low maintenance, due to an already stretched thin workforce providing upkeep across the district’s properties. The longevity of hot-dip galvanizing, particularly in the Midwestern climate, was an attractive option to ensure the project would be maintenance-free for decades.
An existing relationship with the nearest galvanizing plant ensured the project would be done with the utmost concern toward quality and finish for this community-based project. Throughout the project, architecture students learned the standards and expectations for hot-dip galvanizing and developed drawings and diagrams to indicate lift points and vent holes to ensure a successful process. These drawings were shared with the galvanizers to determine any additional vents and to collaborate on the aesthetic impact on those vent locations. In most cases, the vent holes were determined to also provide moisture drainage in the final structure.
In short, by collaborating with the galvanizers, the project had a final appearance that exceeded expectations and benefitted from the early conversations. Both parties had vested interest in the project, and the community was improved as a result.
Lawrence, KS United States
Aesthetics, Coating Durability, Corrosion Performance, Ease of Specifying, Initial Cost, Life-Cycle Cost, Prior HDG Experience, Quality of HDG, Sustainability, Turnaround Time
All exposed structural steel members were galvanized - including columns, beams and rafters.
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