Designers pushed accessibility and inclusiveness to the forefront at this $6-million San Jose public park. From the wheelchair-accessible merry-go-round to the Americans with Disabilities Act-compliant swing chair, each play area at the 4.5-acre facility presents opportunities for all children, regardless of their physical ability.

Long lead times for specialized playground equipment from Germany required crews to block out the slab-on-grade foundation to allow completion of most slab areas before arrival of the equipment. The team quickly ushered shop drawings through submittal and approval.

Crews created flat play areas to make it easier for children or adults who rely on mobility aids to navigate. A large earthen hill shelters visitors from the nearby street and doubles as a wheelchair-accessible perch for slides, kinetic sculptures  and a rock climbing area. Children can enjoy water and sand play areas, three types of swings and a seesaw that allows two people on each side—so that parents can participate with their kids. Poured-in-place rubber playground surfaces help ensure patron safety.

Hensel Phelps worked for no fee as the design-builder. Despite initial reservations about the project’s feasibility by some Rotary Club board members and trustees, the contractor’s “level of detail instilled confidence in the budget,” says Bert George, president of the Rotary Club of San Jose.

The project was completed using donations from community groups and corporations as well as in-kind services from local subcontractors and vendors. Hensel Phelps also closed a $1-million funding gap by working with more than 10 subcontractors to provide pro bono services. Craftspeople appreciated the opportunity to display their skills, and many of them now bring their families to play in the park, according to the contractor.

Rotary PlayGarden

San Jose

Key Players
Rotary Club of San Jose
Lead Design Firm PGAdesign Inc.
Contractor Hensel Phelps
Structural Engineer GFDS Engineers
Civil Engineer Verde Design Inc.
MEP Engineer Cupertino Electric Inc.
Subcontractors Scientific Art Studio Inc.; Robert A. Bothman Inc.