Washington Park Playground

Grand Opening: September 2025*

Washington Park in Albany is a cherished city gem that draws residents and visitors alike throughout the seasons. From the vibrant tulips in spring to the picturesque leaf peeping in the fall, the park stands as one of Albany's most popular attractions. This historic park, situated in the heart of downtown, holds a special place in the city's park system.

washington-park-fall-pathway

The northern edge of Washington Park is home to a beloved playground, a popular destination for families with children. However, the current state of the playground falls short of meeting the needs of this bustling urban park. The equipment is not only inadequate but, in some cases, unsafe, posing challenges for safe supervision. Notably, the lack of fencing or a defined boundary adds to these challenges, and seating is insufficient.

Recognizing the need for improvement, the Washington Park Conservancy has taken the lead in planning a new playground that caters to the diverse users of the park. The goal is clear: to rebuild a playground that offers a safe, engaging, and accessible space for children of all abilities, promoting inclusive play. Accessible recreation facilities are seen as crucial elements in fostering strong, safe, and family-friendly communities, contributing to the overall identity of the neighborhoods surrounding the park.

Schedule*

Washington Park Project Schedule
Screenshot 2023-12-21 134901
Screenshot 2023-12-21 134919

Project Scope


The project team and steering committee facilitated a comprehensive and creative community engagement strategy to ensure an inclusive and transparent planning process. The goals for concept design process were to:

1. Engage and hear from our community about their ideas and concerns,

2. Assess existing conditions and understand existing constraints, and

3. Develop a conceptual vision to guide the future development of the new Washington Park Playground.

Website. In Partnership With

Project Goals

Be both a destination playground for visitors and an engaging playscape and gathering space for Albany residents;

• Offer fun, challenging, unique, and accessible play opportunities to children of all abilities and means;

• Honor the park’s historic landscape design and reduce environmental impacts;

• Include unique play structures and equipment that are not available in other city parks and playground;

• Provide opportunities for multi-generational users;

• Offer truly accessible and engaging play opportunities for children, families, and individuals of all abilities; and

• Serve as a gateway to the larger Washington Park and inspire visitors to become stewards of the park.

Existing Conditions

The five-acre proposed playground site is located in the northeast corner of Washington Park along Washington Park Road. The site is served by pedestrian and vehicular entrances along Washington Park Road as it intersects with State Street. The existing playground area includes a hilly grass lawn that is vegetated with mature trees, with pockets of playground equipment and structures scattered throughout the site. The current equipment is composed of pieces from several generations of playground designs. Much of these are now considered outdated, inadequate, and unsafe in some cases, and are not accessible or developmentally appropriate in others. The nearest restroom facility is located more than 600 feet away from the playground site at the Washington Park Lake House.

Washington Park Playground Concept Plan (23.04.01).pdf

There are no accessible routes into the playground from State Street or Washington Park Road

• Entry and egress thresholds are not clearly defined

• Site lighting is currently in place around the perimeter

• Play zones are not currently differentiated

• There are no accessible routes into the playground

• Some of the play equipment is in a state of disrepair

• Physical distance between play zones is considered vast by users

• Observation and supervision from one play area to another is difficult

• Play areas are not physically or developmentally contained

• User groups are not clearly defined

• Primary and secondary circulation systems are not clearly defined

• Proximity to Washington Park Road causes concern for parents and guardians

• Distinct lack of amenities for parents and caregivers

• Lack of shade is an issue in the summer.

For a detailed account of the Community Engagement process, 

see Washington Park Playground Concept Design

Playground Concept Design

Desired Activities and Play Zones

Based on the survey results and public meeting feedback, the following activity and play zone categories were identified. These topics defined the high-level themes for activities, spaces, and programs within the new playground.

 • Swing, spin & climb zone

• Tot spot (baby & toddler appropriate play area)

• Tot tops (baby & toddler slides)

• The Patio (gathering and programming space)

• The Meadow (historic feature & unprogrammed)

• Story Tree (central gathering & programming space)

• The Creek (water play)

• The Hill (slides & climbing)

• Parkour Zone

• Swingsville (for all ages & abilities)

• Picnic Plateau

• Music Circle (formalized space)

• Fitness Zone (for older children, teens & adults)

• Older Kid Climb & Adventure Zone

Functional Necessities

Based on the analysis of existing conditions, access, circulation, and feedback of functional necessities, the following diagram provides an analysis of major proposed entrance thresholds and circulation within and surrounding the playground area. Functional necessities for the playground include:

• Reinforced and well-defined primary and secondary entry thresholds

• A safety buffer from Washington Park Road

• Defined gathering spaces

• Better opportunities for observation of multiple children

• Clear hierarchy of paths (primary and secondary)

• Universally accessible paths, equipment, and amenities

• Safe parking and pedestrian road crossings

• Defined user group zones

• Preservation of existing trees & balanced ecology

• Work with existing topography

23

Rendering —Aerial View, Looking South

24

Rendering —Aerial View, Looking North

25

Accessibility


This diagram shows the intended levels of accessibility throughout the new playground. The pathways and play areas in blue indicate those that will encompass Universal Design—design standards intended to create an inclusive and welcoming environment and experience for all people of varying abilities. From a site design perspective, this means that the design will include ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) standards for accessible design in addition to other elements beyond technical requirements. ADA accessible areas, indicated in green, will meet ADA design standards to allow for children and visitors of all physical abilities to enjoy.


26

*Subject to Change