The location of Sugar Beet Park in Fort Collins is central to three neighborhoods, known as the Tres Colonias, where many employees of the Great Western Sugar Factory lived. During the first half of the 19th century, sugar beets were harvested and processed at the factory which played a huge role in the development of industry in the city.
The playground design – initially conceptualized by the City of Fort Collins and a local artist – is a playful take on the history of the site, the focal point of which is the colorful giant sugar beet climber. Climbing nets and an internal set of monkey bars lead to an 8 foot slide. The sculpture is climbable on the outside as well; the body of the beet is connected to the top of the beet by two hanging bars.
The beet sculpture is currently on display at the Fort Collins Museum of Discovery as part of the Once Upon a Playground travelling exhibit; this exhibit explores the history of playgrounds as well as current and future playground trends.
When the Fort Collins sugar beet sculpture is installed on site, a log climber will extend from the beet top like the stalks of beet leaves and offer challenging non-prescriptive play for children. This climber is linked to a rope challenge course and custom in-ground beet stalk climber to create looping circuits through the senior play area. Stainless steel “roots” burst out of the beet sculpture and connect to the junior play area, which includes sugar cube steppers, a hill slide, and a junior beet wall climber.
Designed in collaboration with the City of Fort Collins and a local artist, the Sugar Beet park playground is truly a one-of-a-kind experience that connects to the site history and context in a fun and unexpected way.