2016 Merit Award
13,000 sq ft
Downtown Montessori Academy
The new nature play garden at Milwaukee’s Downtown Montessori Academy introduces educational, exploratory, and nature adventure areas in the school’s play yard. site led the design process, working collaboratively with landscape contractor Greener Roofs and Gardens.
The garden has a wide range of activities for children of all ages. Some areas are for quiet activities and resting, structures challenge children physically, and other places encourage social interaction and imaginative play. Key features of the play yard include the addition of much-needed green space – exemplified through an interactive raingarden, discovery garden that features walking paths and a willow hut, and an evergreen shade garden that provides creative play opportunities through balance beams and hide-out nooks. The garden also contains several areas for teaching and classroom activities, such as a stage area with outdoor chalkboard, a sunken amphitheater with runnel and boardwalk, and outcropping seating boulders that could serve as an outdoor classroom. The garden also contains countless open-ended, creative play features constructed of natural materials and equipment, such as a pebble pool, treehouse play structure, campground with willow huts, and several hide-out nooks. A large Catalpa tree that needed to be removed from a nearby city property found a new life as the centerpiece of the “adventure course” in the play yard. The beautiful old tree continues to provide joy to the community through reuse.
Greener Roofs & Gardens Landscapes (GRG)