excerpt: Noguchi sought to replace the stock, single-use structures with a customized (and safer) landscape of mounds, craters, steps, slides, and peaks molded from the earth. He refined his ideas over decades, beginning with Play Mountain in 1933—which the artist considered the “progenitor of playgrounds as sculptural landscapes”—and culminating with the Levy Memorial Playground in 1961. Designed over the course of five years with Louis Kahn for an eight-acre site in Manhattan’s Riverside Park, it resembled a kind of Aztec village set atop a lunar landscape. Although Noguchi’s Playscapes was finally built in Atlanta in 1976, it was his earlier concepts that influenced the built designs of Richard Dattner and M. Paul Friedberg—authors, and spiritual leaders of the modernist playground.
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