Recreation: Junkyard Playgrounds

U.S. playgrounds with their slick stretches of asphalt, colorful, convoluted slides and free-form sculptures for climbing, are among the world's safest, cleanest and most indestructible. But are they what children want? Of course not, says Lady Allen of Hurtwood, 68, a prominent British landscape architect and president of the World Organization for Early Childhood Education. After a month's survey of the East Coast's showpiece playgrounds, the no-nonsense dowager observed crisply that they are "an administrator's heaven and a child's hell." Said she: "It is time we decide whether our playgrounds are to be designed for adults, who love to...

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