The Cathedral of St. John the Divine, the largest cathedral in the world, embarked on the development of two underused parcels on its grounds. When one of these developments displaced a playground used by the Cathedral School, a new play area was selected along the south facade of the nave.
The 10,000 sf playground serves multiple community resources, including the school itself, an after-school program, a summer youth camp, and Sunday school groups. Given the unique backdrop of the cathedral, MNLA's design uses the rhythmic placement of its buttresses to organize use areas that include basketball and play equipment as well as a gathering area. Colors and materials reflect its stained glass windows and Gothic Revival architecture. New trees, shrub beds, and perennials define the prominent precinct and offer welcome shade to the sunlit open space.
Playing and praying can be compatible activities, as MNLA demonstrates in the playground at the base of the largest cathedral in the world.