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TravelandLeisure.com is validating something local and visiting families already know. Vail’s Sunbird Park in Lionshead has been named one of the “World’s Coolest Playgrounds” for its combination of artful form and function. The playground is in good company with other children’s parks in world-wide destinations such as Australia, France, Japan, Poland and the United Kingdom.
“For over 30 years, the Town of Vail has dedicated resources to creatively enhance the visual arts in Vail,” said Molly Eppard, Art in Public Places Coordinator for the Town of Vail. “Travel + Leisure’s recognition for Sunbird’s unique artistic design and function is an honor for both the town’s Art in Public Places and its residents.” Fifteen years ago, the town began to integrate original art into its playground designs. This successful collaboration with artists has led to six unique play areas in what the town calls “art-inspired play.”
Tres birds workshop in Denver was selected by Art in Public Places to work with the Town of Vail to design play structures for the new children’s playground in Lionshead Village. Completed in December 2013, Sunbird Park includes an interactive water feature, a climbing wall and artistic play structures. “The Nests” draw from Vail’s sense of place as a world-class ski destination as well as the surrounding natural habitats.
The materials for the whimsical nest-like structures reflect the character of early wooden ski designs and their organic shape compliments the park’s surroundings. Connecting the nests are custom-made ropes and bridges as well as slides, ladders and other climbers. The park’s design features accessibility, where children with disabilities and adaptive skills may also enjoy the playground features. At night, Sunbird Park is illuminated from within each nest, as well as the water feature, to create an art installation for all ages to enjoy.
“Officially called Sunbird, the name reflects both the assets of the park as well as an ode to vintage Vail ski culture,” said Gregg Barrie, the town’s senior landscape architect.
As the spotlight continues to shine on art in Vail, the town’s Art in Public Places program brings vitality to the village through art. Whether it’s an installation, a fountain or a playground, AIPP assembles a collection of art, which is meant to be educational, attractive to residents and guests, and of an overall aesthetic quality equal to the international reputation the town enjoys as a resort.