Located in the heart of Bozeman, Montana, the Story Mill Community Park agrarian themed playground has been designed to reflect the unique flavour and culture of Bozeman. Working with The Trust for Public Land and Design Workshop, the design process focused on story telling by infusing local context into the structures. The design is thus a journey through the landscapes of Montana, from farms and agriculture to rocky terrain and forested wilderness.
For younger children, the junior grain elevator tower is an iconic structure with historic relevance to Bozeman. In fact, several old grain elevators remain in the vicinity. This feature represents the town and valley’s agrarian industry and culture. A bison skull and osprey sculptures both represent native and commonly seen species. As such, their inclusion in the playground creates a connection to the more remote and wild spaces in Montana. The fire tower in the senior play area is a two-level structure that looks like it belongs in the mountains. An accessible bridge connects the first level to the adjacent bank.
The playground is nestled along a bank of existing willow trees that overhang the playground; the 2nd level of the fire tower brings kids up to this canopy and gives them a bird’s eye view of the park. The site has been arranged so the structures get progressively more challenging. At the same time, there is a thematic parallel that plays on the idea of moving from the agrarian valley (the junior play area) into the foothills and up toward the surrounding mountainous wilderness (the senior play area).