Over a year ago, we began discussions with a local Charter Elementary School about the possibility of a large, one of a kind rooftop playground. The idea was bold and virtually unheard of in the Florida, a state that is known for relentless heat, extreme rain and often the first in line for a hurricane. The first step in undertaking a task of this magnitude is to look to those who have done it before you, learn from their failures and from their triumphs. To our surprise, there were few if any resources available on how to accomplish this task. We turned to our manufacturers and senior colleagues in the industry and asked for their advice and opinions on our plans and intentions, all were very excited about the theory and concept, though skeptical about the execution.
There were many challenges that had to be overcome to make a playground project of this magnitude possible. Most rooftops and structural members are designed to carry minimal loads, how would we be able to install the required 440,000lbs of concrete for the deck, or the additional 50,000lbs of surfacing and equipment? The answer was simple, lots and lots of steel. Working closely with the Structural Engineer and others, a plan was developed to drastically increase the number of steel columns and beams that would support the roof above.
The next challenge was containment and safety. The thought of a playground on a roof had most parents ant the City Officials a bit concerned. We looked to the limited resources available from larger cities like New York and Chicago for guidance. Dissatisfied with their recommendations, a plan for a fence that can only be described as gargantuan unfolded. The fence would be made of steel, virtually un-climbable and be over ten feet high. It would rest between massive columns that were nearly 50′ tall and extended to massive footers beneath us in the ground.
But wait, perhaps we are forgetting the most important part of any roof, the roofing system. How would we be able to install a playground and have everything beneath it be waterproof? How would we mount the equipment? How would we waterproof the penetrations? We came up with a proprietary system that allowed us to install the equipment in conjunction with the roofing membrane and insulation. The details of this system are confidential.
The next concern was the heat. Temperatures in the summer on the roof were in excess of 110 degrees. How would we protect the children and playground equipment from the sun and these temperatures? A simple solution with not so simple execution, custom sail shades, and lots of them. We designed a series of triangular sail shades to keep the area shaded and cool. In high winds, these shades operate much like a kite or a parachute, meaning they create tremendous forces and loads at their connection points. Because of our frequent hurricanes, Florida has very strict building codes regarding wind loads. To overcome this, we developed one of a kind custom connections for these shades that we welded directly into the structural steel of the building.
This rooftop playground would be the only outdoor space for the school which is housed on the second floor of a former Dillards store. That means we also needed a space for PE and other outside activities. Our team of experts installed a large 2000sqft artificial turf area next to the playground that also features an integrated small scale running or tricycle track. This was flawlessly installed with the 7000sqft of adjacent poured in place rubber surfacing that was utilized as the safety surface for the rooftop playground.
The project was a tremendous success and a perfect example of one of our core philosophies, Play Without Limits. When bright ambitious minds work together towards a goal, anything is possible, even a 9000sqft rooftop playground in the heart of Tallahassee Florida!
If you are interested in a rooftop playground, call one of our experts today to help with your rooftop playground project.