Published: Sept. 1, 2017 By


At Kendall Apartments, an affordable housing community in Lakewood, Colo., children play Nerf wars, soccer and “groundies,” the don’t-touch-the-ground version of tag. They swing from monkey bars and scale a rope net amid the smell of fresh cedar.

Resident parents are thrilled — their children, about 65 in all, now have a safe and spacious space to play. The old area was small and crumbling.

Open since June, the new playground is the latest studio project by undergraduate environmental design students at CU Boulder. Predecessors dreamed up and built a tree office and a sustainable bathhouse.

The six-month project, led by instructor Jeremy Ehly, involved interviewing parents and children, obtaining zoning permits, regrading the site and designing and building four separate play areas. The 18 CU students also raised more than $36,000 for material costs, including a $25,000 donation from the Northeast Denver Housing Center.

“When we first started the semester, I was completely taken aback by how ambitious we were attempting to be,” said Jesse Koenig (EnvDes’17).

But they pulled it off, to squeals of joy.

“While we were putting our finishing touches on and cleaning up everything, the kids kept asking us, ‘Is it ready, can I play?’” said senior Anne Mosites (Arch’18). “We had to power wash everything as our last step and the kids started playing the minute we were done; they didn’t even care that it was soaking wet.”

The CU students felt good, too — and were ready for more.

Said Ehly, the instructor, “They’ve already been pitching me projects.”

Photos by Jeremy Ehly