Atlas Public Schools Playground

DG2 Design was tasked with designing a playground for Atlas Elementary, a new school in downtown St. Louis, as part of their commitment to preparing students for a lifetime of exploration. Atlas Public Schools aims to educate the whole child through rigorous academics and real-world experiences. The playground is designed to encourage imagination, physical challenges, and free play.

Unlike traditional playground concepts, the playground features Berliner spatial nets, which stimulate cognitive processes in children and encourage decision-making in a playful way. The design balances safety with opportunities for children to push their boundaries and learn through play.

Located under the cover of a previously covered parking lot, the playground offers various play options, including two DNA Towers with climbing features and a slide, a Tri climbing tower with a tube slide, and a three-dimensional chess board, all on an accessible artificial turf surface.

This playground, along with the renovation project to adaptively reuse a previously vacant building, will meet the evolving needs of the school as it grows over the next five years. The growth strategy includes adding a new grade each year until the school reaches 600 students in kindergarten through fifth grade.

Mitchell Park Master Plan

DG2 Design worked with the City of Kirkwood to update the Mitchell Park master plan.  Following the St. Louis County Municipal Parks Grant requirements and based on the community outreach efforts and stakeholder input, DG2 developed the following key goals and objectives for Mitchell Park improvements.

ADA Compliance: Proposed improvements and amenities will be designed to meet ADA requirements, ensuring equal access to recreational activities for all park users.

Park Drainage: Addressing drainage issues is a primary concern that must be resolved in coordination with other park improvements. Sculpting the natural grade and installing rain gardens will help redirect water flow away from active areas, preventing waterlogging.

Preserving Park Character: Community members express a strong desire to maintain the park’s overall character, including its central open lawn, lush canopy, and intimate atmosphere. A balance between active and passive engagement opportunities will be maintained.

Enhancing Play Opportunities: Parents and children want more opportunities for both formal and informal play. Integrating swings and landscape elements for climbing and skipping into the park design will cater to these desires. Additionally, a small-footprint mist element will be added to provide a fun way to cool off on warm days.

Landscape Improvements & Tree Canopy Preservation: Plantings that attract pollinators, showcase seasonality, and offer educational opportunities will be integrated into the park’s landscape design. A careful assessment of tree health will be conducted to ensure the long-term vitality of the park’s tree canopy. Declining trees will be replaced, while healthy ones will be preserved.

Preserving Central Open Space: The central open lawn, a popular area among park visitors, will be preserved and enhanced through improvements to grading and drainage, resulting in a more usable space throughout the year.

By addressing these goals and objectives, Mitchell Park will be transformed into a more inclusive, sustainable, and enjoyable recreational space for the community to enjoy.