Play and Playgrounds in NYC
View Additional Course Information:

Including faculty, schedule, credits, CRN and location.

Level: Undergraduate
Division: Parsons The New School for Design
School: School of Art and Design History and Theory
Department: Art and Design History
Course Number: PLDS 2099
Course Format: Seminar
Location: NYC campus
Permission Required: No
  • Urban History, Theory & Criticism
  • Design History, Theory & Criticism
  • Architectural History, Theory & Criticism
Designers, parents, and childhood development experts have been refocusing their attention on playgrounds in response to the belief that safety legislation and equipment standardization has rendered them unchallenging and dull. Each incarnation of the playground is a reflection of the cultural and political issues of the day. Students will study the evolution of playground design over time from the unprogrammed playing fields of the mid-nineteenth century to the standardized equipment of the Progressive Era to the 1953 MoMA playground-design contest and 1960s adventure- and adventure-style playgrounds to current initiatives, which comprise a pastiche of past incarnations. They will learn to identify the underlying issues of each playground era and will take field trips to observe these playgrounds firsthand. Reading will include primary documents by authors ranging from Progressive Era reformers such as Fanny Parsons and Robert Moses to sculptor Isamu Noguchi and magazine and newspaper articles as well as photographs. Pathway: Design Studies
Course Open to: Degree Students with Restrictions
Course Pre/Co-requisites:
Open to: University undergraduate degree students, freshman and sophomores only. Pre-requisite(s): first-year university writing course and at least one prior history or methods course in art, media, film, or visual culture.


Open to Undergraduate students.