Re-printed from: Landscape Architect

Adventure Island’s Sound of Music

Above & Below: The concrete ramping outside the playground gives children in wheelchairs access to the second story play pieces. The slope is 1:12 (8.33 percent), which meets ADA requirements. The playground is closed at night. The lighting (Quality Lighting) is security lighting activated by motion sensors. The 20-inch wide housing is finned cast aluminum and accommodates up to 400 watt lamps.

Imagine a playground where children search for hidden artifacts in an archaeological dig, conduct a symphony, or launch to the moon in a spaceship.

Now imagine that all children can experience that kind of fun no matter what their ability level. Also imagine that children in wheelchairs or those with sensory, visual or cognitive disabilities can play side-by-side with their able-bodied peers.

That’s Adventure Island, a universally accessible playground in Settler’s Park, Meridian Idaho.

The tuned drums (Freenotes) area is a social setting for children of all abilities and ages. Constructed of painted vinyl the varied sizes and heights of the drums make distinctive pitches.

While more and more states are integrating accessibility into their playgrounds, Adventure Island is believed to be the first of its kind in Idaho and a model for other communities in the gem state.

This is a community built playground, meaning hand-assembled by volunteers in Meridian.

Several of the parents who initiated Adventure Island Playground have children who attended JumpStart, a program of Saint Alphonsus Regional Medical Center for children with neurological disorders. Because JumpStart partners with other child development/education programs, JumpStart children play and learn with children who do not have neurological challenges. Such meaningful interactions and experiences is the mission of Adventure Island Playground.

The anodized aluminum chimes (“Swirl”) deeply resonate by an ABS and PVC plate.


The landscape architects of The Land Group, Inc., Matthew T. Adams, ASLA, principal, provided design work as an in-kind donation to the Adventure Island Group, working from initial concept through construction drawings and construction observation, including product selection and specification, community facilitation, permitting and bidding services. (Note: The landscape architects were contracted to prepare design documents for the 58-acre Settlers Park, of which Adventure Island is a part.)

The durable plastic-coated play elements (Playworld Systems) provide tactile play opportunities for children of all abilities. Poured-in-place rubber (NoFault) is the safety surfacing.


Sound Garden

The Sound Garden is the most recent phase of Adventure Island. The “sound” refers to nine large-scale musical instruments that provide interactive play for children of all abilities. The Sound Garden is just adjacent to the climbing area—Little City of Rocks. These play elements, along with the existing playground structure, swing area and splash pad, are the cornerstone of the 56-acre community park.

Peer interaction and social gathering for children is a major focus and component of the playground. Children of all abilities are able to interact socially with their peers because the physical and spatial qualities of the site do not limit access to any particular location or play element.

The ramp to the second story play equipment is accessed from the sidewalk. The wheelchair ramps (1:12 slope) have continuous handrails. There are landings at each foot of rise and are large enough to allow for a wheelchair turning space (60-in. dia.).


About the Firm

The Land Group, Inc. of Eagle, Idaho was founded in 1988 by David Koga and Phil Hull. From the start, the firm’s reputation has been based on providing technically-sound and cost-effective services. Originally focusing on landscape architecture services, the firm now provides a full range of design and consulting services in the fields of landscape architecture, civil engineering, surveying, planning, golf course engineering and irrigation, graphic communication and photography. The firm’s focus is working together across disciplines as a cohesive team.

  • Project: Adventure Island PlaygroundOwner: City of Meridian,
  • IdahoProject Landscape Architects: Jeremy Ainsworth and Matthew T. Adams, The Land Group, Inc.
  • Community Group: Adventure Island Group


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