Sculpture: The Horsy Set

The sculptural face of a modern city playground rarely gets more monumental than a jungle gym. Its rectilinear ziggurat of steel lattice is a joy toy for kids, and a spatial bore. But then, who considers a playground worthy of a sculptor's talents? At least, New York city's housing authority did, and let Costantino Nivola, 53, see how he could improve on the blight of monkey bars, slides, and swings that make play grounds across the nation look like a titanic display of naked plumbing.

A sinewy Sardinian immigrant, Nivola loves outdoor public...

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