ISSUE 63  |  Do-It-Yourself

The Best Play Structure Ever

March 14, 2013 3:00 PM

BY Sarah Lonsdale

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A genius plan for some fallen trees: a play structure in Marin, designed by a legendary woodsman. When we featured this oversized jungle gym last summer, we had no idea it would unleash so many strong opinions about where children should be allowed to climb:

Jim Rosenfield of Marin Country Mart was taken with the wooden play structure at the Princess Diana Memorial Playground in London's Hyde Park. Seeking something similar for his Marin property, he had several extensive talks with the German designer. But ultimately it seemed senseless to import wood from Germany. Instead he turned to a much beloved local source for wood, Evan Shively. Asked to come up with a design, Shively turned up with three logs of wood carved in the shapes that became "Tree Time."

The installation was no mean feat, as Rosenfield notes, "Evan conceived and designed the play structure, gathered the eucalyptus trees that had fallen on Highway 101 in North Marin, then engineered and executed a remarkable installation that involved massive flatbed trucks, police escorts, huge cranes, concrete and steel piers, and a precise fit of all the tree trunks and steel braces."

Love it or hate it? Tell me what you think of this giant jungle gym in the comment section below.

Photography by Mariko Reed except where noted.

Above: The salvaged trees turned into a play structure at the center of Marin Country Mart.

Above: The massive eucalyptus wood trunks serve as part art installation and part play structure.

Above: Rosenfield, whose offices are nearby, says, "For me, 'Tree Time' is more beautiful as it ages; the wood is turning silver, spaces are opening up in the wood, creating amazing patterns, and the skin is becoming smooth where children play, and visitors can't help but touch the massive structures."

Above: The three logs that Evan Shively made as a mock-up of the structure kept on display in the office. Photograph by Mimi Giboin.

Love it or hate this giant jungle gym? Tell me why in the comment section.

For more garden play structures, take a look at our Five Favorites.

N.B. This post is an update; the original story ran on August 25, 2012.