Fantastical Climbers for Children’s Playgrounds

Liberty-Science-CenterSpencer Luckey, trained as an architect, took an unconventional path by becoming a professional designer of children’s climbers. His company, Luckey Climbers, designs and fabricates elaborate and whimsical climbing structures for children-friendly institutions.

Spencer believes that architecture should be entertaining. His climbers’ designs are reflective of children’s spontaneous exuberance. They are abstract sculptures designed to activate a child’s imagination – a contrast to traditional playgrounds that often reference castles or houses.

Franklin Institute climber
Franklin Institute climber

The materials are varied, ranging from glass to plywood to glow-in-the-dark rotomolded HDPE platforms. While all Spencer’s climbers are site-specific, they are also aesthetic risks that pay off tremendously. Among his designs is a helix climber in Beijing (recently completed), a towering climber to resemble a giant beanstalk in St. Louis, an interactive climber at the Franklin Institute in Philadelphia that creates a synchronized light show, and a climber suspended high above the ground that reminds you of electrons darting around its nucleus in the Liberty Science Center in NJ, which recently made Time Out NY’s list of best NYC playgrounds.  It’s worth noting that over the 30-years the company has been around, they’ve never received any reports of accidents.

Spencer’s most recent project, created for Westfield Mall in Topanga Canyon, CA, is an upright circular glow-in-the-dark climber that expands in size dramatically when the viewer’s physical perspective changes. Spencer’s next climber, which will open spring 2016 in San Antonio, TX, is a tall structure that uses digital projections on glass surfaces to teach children about human anatomy.
Photography: via

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