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Seattle Children's PlayGarden

Landscape Performance Benefits


  • Captures and infiltrates 150,040 gallons of stormwater runoff annually from 7,500 sf of impervious surfaces, saving an estimated $300 in city stormwater management fees each year.


  • Provided therapeutic conditioning and outdoor education to nearly 400 children since opening in the Fall of 2010. Due to increasing demand, more capacity in the curriculum and programming is being incorporated for 2011/2012.
  • Yields an estimated 940 lbs (0.4 tons) of fruits and vegetables each year, which has an estimated value of $1,100.

At a Glance

  • Designer

    Winterbottom Design

  • Project Type

    Park/Open space
    Urban agriculture

  • Former Land Use

    Park/Open Space

  • Location

    1745 24th Avenue South
    Seattle, Washington 98144
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  • Climate Zone

    Warm-summer Mediterranean

  • Size

    1.2 acres

  • Budget

    $1.5 million

  • Completion Date


The Seattle Children’s PlayGarden was founded by Elizabeth Bullard in 2002, in recognition of the right for all children to play outdoors. All park features and amenities are designed to be handicap accessible and eco-friendly through a collaborative design effort between medical professionals, community leaders and design specialists. The design of the PlayGarden enables children, age 4-18, to participate in and pursue a diverse array of passive and active recreational interests from basketball to gardening. The onsite facilities provide space and programming for therapeutic conditioning for children with disabilities while also hosting a full complement of after school and summer camps for children of all abilities. One component of the curriculum for these programs is to utilize the vegetables from the onsite potager (kitchen garden) to teach children about the relationship between growing and preparing the food they eat.


The mission of the Seattle PlayGarden Foundation required the park facilities and playscape be designed to encourage rehabilitation and play for children with a range of special needs. In addition to ADA accessibility and comfort, the PlayGarden Foundation wanted to create a sensory rich environment that would promote the educational and therapeutic benefits of an outdoor classroom. The design team also focused on developing ecological design solutions to conserve water, reduce runoff and promote food security.


An interdisciplinary team of medical and design specialists collaborated to custom design all features of the playscape, park amenities and facilities, including a cushioned climbing volcano, a wheelchair accessible water feature and a kitchen potager (garden and associated building) equipped with ADA appliances and kid safe materials. The design features also function ecologically to reduce stormwater runoff and conserve resources. The water channel in the play area uses a recirculation system to conserve drinking water, while a subsurface network of rain catchment basins and pipes channels would-be runoff into an infiltration channel and water efficient garden.

  • All park elements are designed to facilitate play between able-bodied and disabled children.
  • The 1,300 sf green roof detains runoff and helps to regulate the temperature of the park house.
  • A water-efficient garden includes a hybrid bioswale and raingarden that assists in managing site runoff.
  • A cistern harvests rainwater from the secondary building for use in the garden.
  • Water used in children’s water feature is recirculated.
  • The vegetable garden provides produce for the local community.
  • Vegetables grown in the potager (kitchen garden) are used in the kitchen facilities by students to prepare meals and learn about the connection between the foods we grow and eat.
  • The green roof, rain garden, and cistern are estimated to reduce the site’s Seattle Public Utilities “Surface Water Management” fee by $300 each year when compared to the same size parcel without any onsite stormwater management.
  • Phasing of the design and construction of the site enabled various sources of funding to be identified,detained, and utilized.
  • During the design and construction phases of the project, the form and functionality of design elements can be experimented with and modified to improve accessibility for children with disabilities and increase their viability as useful components of the design.
  • In order to improve wheelchair access, a future addition to the edible garden will include raised beds.

Project Team

PlayGarden Executive Director: Liz Bullard
Architect: Babienko Architects, PLLC
Landscape Architect: Winterbottom Design, Inc.
Structural Engineer: Harriott Smith Valentine Engineers, Inc.
Mechanical Engineer: Ecotope
Civil Engineer: WR Consulting
Geotechnical Engineer: Geotech Consults, Inc.

Role of the Landscape Architect

Led the input process, including focus groups with professionals in fields related to childhood disabilities. Developed the master plan for the entire garden and led community review meetings. Designed, permitted and supervised construction of the new basketball court. Led team with civil engineer and horticulturalist in design of the play plaza, cultivation gardens, stormwater swale, and gardens system.


Stormwater management, Recreational & social value, Educational value, Food production, Other economic, Play equipment, Rainwater harvesting, Bioretention, Green roof, Food garden, Mental wellness, Play

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