Boston's 'Adult Playground': Created without Traditional Planning
Anthony Flint is obviously a fan of the adult playground in the Seaport District of Boston, calling it "wildly successful" and an "urban activity sensation." Here's why: "People are flocking to the three-acre site adjacent to the Boston Convention and Exhibitors Center, with its set of 20 lighted oval swings, bocce, ping pong, beanbag toss, Adirondack chairs, a sound stage, and open-air bar."
"And the most interesting feature from an urban design perspective? The wildly successful Lawn on D Street, a partnership of Sasaki and Utile with HR&A Advisors, wasn’t planned years in advance. It wasn’t in the public-realm plan and it was part of no master plan."
According to Flint's analysis, the adult playground isn't the only example of economic and community activity popping up free of planning foresight: "The successes in the Seaport seem to crop up quite outside of any planning process. A case in point is the strip along Northern Avenue known now as Liberty Wharf, which is just absolutely packed every night, on a par with Newbury Street in Back Bay. There’s a great music tent down the block, but this wasn’t really anticipated to be the center of gravity for the Seaport. It just happened."
Flint also presents a few conclusions about how planners and urban designers might benefit by lessons taken from the adult playground's example.