The Children’s Inn at NIH Gets a New Playground Enchanted with Branch Railings
Mountain Laurel railings with their twisting twig balusters lend a fun and fairy-tale look to a special play park located at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Children’s Inn.
The Inn, established in 1990, provides temporary residence for children receiving life-saving treatment at the NIH and their families. Outside the facility adjoins a sprawling playground that “provides a magical escape from the burdens of illness.”
As you can see from the before and after pictures below, the park was in need of a renewal. The play equipment was limited and outdated, and the area lacked adequate shade. Through generous charitable donations and hundreds of volunteer hours the magical outdoor space became reality in 2013.
Here, the railing’s organic branches to the left blend in beautifully with the naturalized landscape complete with tall grasses and lush trees in the background. Colorful life-sized giraffes, and a real life deer create an adventurous escape in the park.
One of the greatest challenges faced by the design team was the steep grade between the Inn and the park. The playground is located on a hill. Prior to the renovation, the original layout made it difficult for children with physical challenges and senior caregivers to access.
To ease the transition, a deck and boardwalk safeguarded with Mountain Laurel handrails formed the perfect solution. They follow and balance out the contours of the sloped landscape, while connecting the Inn to the playground’s many sections.
Skilled installers retrofitted the Childrens Inn NIH railing to meet the needs of children of varying ages and physical abilities.
The play park now provides a colorful mix of fun and fantasy, where children can put their illness out of their mind for a while. The Inn’s former CEO Kathy Russell sums the project up perfectly, “The new play area offers our children and their families a real chance to enjoy the outdoors, and when children have an opportunity to play, they also have an opportunity to heal.”