“Rooted in Nature” is the theme for Johnston-McVay Park (formerly Hempstead Park) in the City of Westerville, north east of Columbus. Designed to depict local stories, it creates a unique recreational experience for the park’s diverse users and reflects the site’s natural richness.
The custom playground structures and sculptures represent layers of the forest. The emergent layer of the trees that top the dominant canopy; the canopy layer of thick tree cover; the understory of woody plants, ferns and grasses; and the forest floor.
A 17-foot (5.2m) tall Red-Tailed hawk with its nest of eggs represents both the emergent layer and the canopy. The hawk, guarding its future young, surveys above the treetops while the nest sits hidden within the canopy. Children who climb up inside the bird can peer through the hawk eyes to scan views. A log jam climber represents the understory of woody plants and grasses while a butterfly junior climber rests on the forest floor.
Designed in collaboration with POD Design, the playground is the first of its kind and will be a destination playground for the City of Westerville.