Luther Burbank Park
Mercer Island, WA
Nestled on Lake Washington just across the I-90 floating bridge from Seattle is Mercer Island—a small city with a rich history. And the centerpiece for most of that history is Luther Burbank Park, a former homestead and boarding school. The park is one of the oldest destination parks in the region, and while its 1970s concrete playground is a visual landmark, it was time to update the space to offer a safer, more relevant play experience.
Wanting to protect the history and pay tribute to the original play space’s unique use of elevation change and mixed materials, the city worked with Playworld to develop a custom refurbished design. The biggest challenge was integrating play equipment into the existing space. A large brick pyramid-shaped landform got a safer makeover by being covered in concrete and resurfaced with poured-in-place rubber. A play structure platform and two slides were built into the feature, offering a unique sliding and climbing activity, as well as a beautiful view of the lake beyond the playground.
Ramps were also customized to offer ADA access from the upper level to the main traditional play structure. A PlayWeb continues the geometric aesthetic while offering a higher level of climbing challenge and a LiveWire Zip Line provides a modern, thrilling play experience for older kids.
Not wanting to detract from the playground’s iconic aesthetic, we chose to use more modern materials like metal and rope, as well as a sleek color palette of silver, red, and blue. The new design perfectly complements the remaining concrete and brick structures, as well as the new mosaics developed with the help of local students. This custom playground is now more popular than ever, and will continue to preserve the play and history of Mercer Island for many years to come.