Located near the West 67th Street entrance of Central Park and gifted by the Estée Lauder Foundation in 1967, Adventure Playground is considered a synthesis of post-war European adventure playground design principles, the innovative landforms of Isamu Noguchi, and the playground designs of M. Paul Friedberg. The designer, architect Richard Dattner, consulted with childhood development experts, conducted an anthropological investigation of children playing in New York City, and led meetings with neighborhood parents to help inform the design of Adventure Playground as an environment for both imaginative and physical play.
Situated on the footprint of a Robert Moses-era playground, Dattner’s design was constructed largely from concrete, granite blocks, and wood. The playground consists of an interconnected arrangement of low undulating walls, amphitheater steps, a maze-like structure, and climbing equipment, including pyramidal and conical structures. A water feature consists of a plaza with a central spray connected to a runnell and wading pool. Dattner chose materials adopted from the emerging Brutalist design aesthetic; the color and texture of these materials ensured that play equipment merged seamlessly into the existing Central Park palette. Central Park was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1966.