Frances Jacobs Incorporates Energy Theme Into School Playground

“I can’t change the direction of the wind, but I can adjust my sails to always reach my destination.” – Jimmy Dean.  This quote is one of many energy-themed educational elements found at Frances Jacobs School in Denver, where color, textures and patterns vividly intertwine the theme throughout the site. The October 2015 issue of Landscape Record magazine focuses on projects around the world and how vibrant design is at the forefront. Design Concepts is proud to have Frances Jacobs School in Denver included as one of the highlighted projects, found on page 108.

Schoolyards offer playful opportunities to incorporate vivid colors with a variety of whimsical textures and patterns into fun and educational elements. Energy-themed elements at Frances Jacobs incorporate an abundance of color as that was the strong desire of the principal, staff and other stakeholders who participated early on in the design phase. Talk about creativity! The energy theme produced an abundance of ideas for how to incorporate this theme into the site. For example, the eye-catching main entrance to the school is a “Wind Walk” of richly colored patterned concrete. The gateway signage portrays an abstract curving wind motion, and the outdoor amphitheater has etched energy-related quotes into the steps and sandblasted imagery such as corn, geothermal, petroleum, sun, coal and hydro power. Visit the playground and you’ll find a weathervane sculpture that represents kinetic energy as well as teaches navigational direction; windmill hopscotch, representing rotational energy converted from the wind created from rotating sails of the windmill, accessible for kids in wheelchairs; tetherball with “giant propellers” (etched colorful blowing triangles in the asphalt depicting “scattered” objects); and foursquare courts with the varieties of wind painted into the quadrants: moderate wind and hurricane wind for example. This project was an enjoyable one not to mention a learning experience for Design Concepts, the staff and students!