Research and Creative Work

In the College of Architecture and Planning at the University of Colorado Denver, students and faculty engage directly with our vibrant city, dynamic community, and magnificent landscape by working on real projects that make a real difference. 

Salida Playground Renovation Master Plan

Date: 6/1/2014
Principal Researchers:


Location: Salida, Chaffee County, Colorado

This project was initiated by the insurance provider for the City of Salida. The playground equipment that we all grew up with is uninsurable and hence needs to be replaced. In an active community such as Salida, though, such playgrounds are used frequently and are an important part of the fabric of the parks in the city. We were asked to consider all the parks in one broad vision, making sure each develops its own character and provides a unique experience for the residents. From this consideration, a Master Plan, prioritizing which playgrounds need attention first and creating implementation plans for each location would be developed and presented for consideration by nearby residents.

After measuring and photographing each playground, we then prepared site plans of each park and held a community wide meeting whereby residents could comment, sketch and effectively design the park they wanted. We got a lot of good input, but in considering the source of the comments, it was determined that most if not all the suggestions came from adults…often acting as advocates for their children, but still not exactly the end users. A second presentation was arranged at Longfellow Elementary school, where we spoke directly to the users of the playground and asked them to discuss, sketch and suggest ways the playgrounds could directly serve them.

We took our findings and produced various options and approaches for each location. These in turn were presented before another community wide meeting. As school was out of session, we could not return directly to the school setting, but the proposals were well received and became the framework from which we prepared an overall Master Plan, detailing the timetable (assumed to be one playground per year for the next 5 years) and offering recommendations for which location ought to be done first, etc. In addition to more detailed designs, cost estimates were prepared and the overall plan was presented to the city council in early summer. The findings were accepted and the first of these parks (Chisholm Park) was designated, per our guidance, to be first on the list.

An RFP was issued based on the conceptual vision produced by CCCD in the summer of 2014. It is expected the work will be done this fall, and the park will be open for use as winter recedes in 2015, using GOCO funding as well as city resources.

Project Team: 
Kelly Finkowski, Tucker Hancock and Mollie Somes
Local Participants: Theresa Casey, Dara MacDonald

College of Architecture and Planning

CU Denver

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1250 14th Street


Denver, CO 80202


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