Seattle's Child

Your guide to a kid-friendly city

Artists at Play: An awesome, inclusive playground at Seattle Center

The former World’s Fair Fun Forest space at Seattle Center was reimagined as an interactive, artistic place for families and children of all ages.

Artists at Play, the extraordinary Seattle Center playground, opened in 2015. The playground is located between the Experience Music Project and the Armory, just north of the Monorail Station. The colorful and inviting space that is now the playground held the World’s Fair Fun Forest amusement rides until those were dismantled in 2011 and nothing more than a desolate concrete slab was there for four years.

Photo: Joshua Huston

 

Part of the Century 21 Master Plan for Seattle Center, the Seattle Center playground was a collaboration between Northwest artists Trimpin and Judith Caldwell, Seattle Center, Site Workshop, and Highwire. The goal was to create an interactive, artistic place for families and children of all ages. The project team met with kids from around the city at workshops, presentations, and open houses, to find out what they liked to play with and harvest imaginative ideas.

Photo: Joshua Huston

 

The results can be seen in child-inspired musical instruments, listening stations, sound swings, turf play mounds, an ADA-accessible carousel, a painted maze, an alphabet tree, and a 35-foot net climbing tower with tube slides — one of the largest in the country.

Photo: Joshua Huston

 

Visitors can engage their senses with thoughtful, original play sculptures. Caldwell’s bronze handles allow letter strings to raise and lower to the Do Re Mi scale on the Alphabet Tree. Bronze word/picture mysteries can be puzzled over in the midst of the painted labyrinth. Trimpin, of Seattle Children’s PlayGarden and Olympic Sculpture Park fame, fine-tuned a lengthy Song Fence to emit sounds when activated, much like a vertical xylophone.

Looking down onto the playground from the EMP, it’s easy to see how Artists at Play enlivens and connects the plaza to the rest of Seattle Center. Improvements made to the structures surrounding the playground include sweeping steps and an inviting deck that offers additional access to the play space and great spots for sunny summer picnics. Fair warning – if you are in a hurry, avoid walking past the playground – your kids will not be able to resist it.

seattlecenter.com

First published May 2015. Updated June 2023