Design Museum Foundation, Playworld, and the City of Chicago bring new public play sculpture to Chicago Riverwalk

Chicago (October 11, 2017) —Design Museum Foundation, Playworld, Chicago Riverwalk, and the City of Chicago are pleased to announce the opening of a PlayCubes pop – up playground at the Chicago Riverwalk on October 11. The play space leverages public art to reunite communities, and is part of Extraordinary Playscapes, Design Museum Foundation’s nationally-traveling exhibition exploring the importance of play in childhood development, while showcasing how designers translate play objectives into innovative, extraordinary and outdoor play environments.

A ribbon-cutting ceremony for PlayCubes with Commissioner David Reynolds from the Department of Fleet and Facility Management, Commissioner Mark Kelly from the Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events, Commissioner Brian Bannon from the Chicago Public Library who is hosting the Extraordinary Playscapes exhibition at the Harold Washington Library, Missy Benson from Playworld, and Design Museum Foundation’s Executive Director, Sam Aquillano will be held at the Chicago Riverwalk on Wednesday, October 11 at 12:00pm.

Playworld, a leading commercial playground equipment manufacturer committed to saving outdoor unstructured play, demonstrates a shift in playground design with PlayCubes . The play equipment was originally introduced in the 1960s by Architect Richard Dattner, but was recently redesigned and reintroduced by Playworld through an exclusive partnership with Dattner. PlayCubes’ modular design and distinctive geometric shapes encourage exploratory, child directed, and open-ended play for children ages five and up. Kids can climb into the cubes from various angles, experience them at different levels, and discover new ways to get active and play. The pop-up play space along the Chicago Riverwalk is the first PlayCubes playground to feature the new industrial, metal version of the product — ideal for urban and high-traffic playgrounds where extreme durability is key.

“Playworld was delighted to partner with Richard Dattner on reviving his original PlayCubes,” said Missy Benson, Play & Design Specialist for Playworld. “The iconic sculptural play forms enhance any outdoor space and provide a play environment that is unique and supportive to child development. PlayCubes are demonstrating a new viability for play in urban areas. Big destination parks aren’t always the answer – due to the large space needed, which is a challenge especially in urban areas.” said Benson.

Through support from the Chicago Riverwalk and the City of Chicago, PlayCubes will be open for play through December 16.

“The Department of Fleet and Facility Management (2FM) is proud to mainain the Chicago Riverwalk,” 2FM Commissioner David Reynolds said. “The PlayCubes installation is a new destination on the Riverwalk which will help achieve Mayor Emanuel’s goal of allowing people to interact with natural resources in the heart of downtown.

“Throughout the summer, the City of Chicago and Riverwalk vendors have presented a wide range of programming including public art, pyrotechnics, live music, food fest and fishing,” said Mark Kelly, Commissioner of the Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events. “The PlayCubes installation will extend the Riverwalk season into winter and provide even more family fun. We invite Chicagoans and visitors to escape the everyday and embrace Chicago from a new vantage point.”

“As we continue designing spaces to encourage play and discovery at branch libraries throughout the city, we’re excited about this collaboration with the Design Museum Foundation,” said Chicago Public Library Commissioner Brian Bannon. “The Extraordinary Playscapes exhibit and the recently installed PlayCubes are excellent resources for parents and caregivers who are interested in supporting their child’s healthy development and learning.”

Extraordinary Playscapes is on view at the 3rd floor and Children’s Center at the Harold Washington Library through December 16. Featuring more than 40 pioneering play spaces from around the world, Extraordinary Playscapes showcases the latest thinking in playground design while presenting how vital free play is to childhood development, thriving communities and social equity. This exhibit is free and open to the public.

“Our goal is to connect Chicago to the free play movement through an exceptional public exhibition about the design of playscapes,” said Sam Aquillano, Executive Director of Design Museum Foundation. “There are so many examples of extraordinary playscapes in the world and we’re hoping to inspire people of all ages to get outside and play. We’re thrilled to be partnering with Playworld and the City of Chicago to bring PlayCubes to a public space for all to enjoy.”

Extraordinary Playscapes and the new PlayCubes playground in Chicago were made possible through support from Playworld, the National Endowment for the Arts, Sappi Ideas That Matter, and BSA Space.

About Design Museum Foundation

At Design Museum Foundation we believe design can change the world. Done well, it can elevate our quality of life, make businesses more competitive, and protect our environment. Design awareness, education, and expertise are more important now than ever before as design continues to impact communities, organizations, and markets around the world. Design Museum Foundation is redefining what it means to be a museum in the 21st century — we’re online, nomadic, and accessible to all through a network of exhibitions, events, and content. Our mission: Bring the transformative power of design everywhere, to inspire a world full of creative problem solvers. For more information visit

About Playworld

Playworld is a division of PlayPower®, Inc. Playworld believes The World Needs Play®. Play is vital to everyone’s health and well-being. It’s something you are never too young or too old to enjoy. We develop playground environments where creativity is king, belly laughs are welcome and children make the rules. Playworld’s equipment and surfacing are designed to unleash the transformational power of play so bodies grow stronger, children play safely and imagination can take flight. For nearly 50 years, Playworld has created innovative, inclusive and meaningful outdoor play experiences for all ages and abilities. For more information visit

About the Chicago Riverwalk

The City has been working on the development plan for the Chicago Riverwalk since the 1990’s. During the reconstruction of East-West Wacker Drive, the roadway was reconfigured to allow greater public access to the river. Under Mayor Emanuel’s leadership, the City obtained $98 million loan for design engineering and construction with revenues generated from the Riverwalk pledged towards repayment of the loan. Completed in the fall of 2016, the Chicago Riverwalk now extends from Lake Shore Dr. to Lake St. along the south bank of the Main Branch of the River and is a 1.25-mile promenade through the heart of the city and a unique destination for Chicagoans and visitors alike. For more information visit:

Media Contacts:
Amanda Hawkins, Design Museum Foundation
[email protected] • 917-747-4422

Missy Benson, Playworld
[email protected] • 804-337-6763

Mary Beth Mulholland Chicago Public Library
[email protected] • 312 745 3798

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