Beat the heat. No reservations required. That’s the message the city of Hoover is sending about its newly opened Explore Playground and Splash Pad located in the Hoover Met Complex.
Treat yourself free of charge to a multisensory, fantastical experience. The 15,000-square-foot playground – considered Alabama’s largest poured-in-place playground surface – and the adjoining 7,000-square-foot splash pad are universally designed to be used by everyone, including people with disabilities and mobility restrictions.
Goodwyn, Mills and Cawood provided architecture, landscape architecture, civil engineering and electrical design services for the $2 million project. J.A. Dawson & Co., a Pelham-based contractor specializing in parks and playgrounds, was also part of the team along with Gametime, a leading commercial playground equipment manufacturer. GMC coordinated the project and provided construction documents for the final design.
From the overall design to equipment selection, the end result is all-out fun in a safe environment. Vibrant rainbow colors, bursts of patterns and textures. Flowers that play music. Even Alice in Wonderland would be mystified.
The splash pad offers the perfect spot to cool off and is open from May 15 to Sept. 15 during Alabama’s hottest and stickiest days. Chlorinated water re-circulated through a filtration system sprays out in arches and large globules at varying heights. Throughout the pad are multicolored structures such as cartoon-like animals that spew water and invite revelers to play.
According to J.A. Dawson, the design for a first-rate playground had begun when the company was asked by the city to redesign the project in a way that would accommodate people of all ages and abilities.
Several features achieve this objective. The clubhouse is constructed in glass fiber reinforced concrete and designed for handicap accessibility on both the lower and upper levels. The family changing room includes a changing table that can hold up to 300 pounds to accommodate special needs parents and older children. It can also be raised and lowered to allow wheelchair-bound parents to change their child.
The park also has charging stations for both phones and motorized wheelchairs. And when visitors need to slow down a bit, there are areas to rest in the shade.
Image 1 – Jack in the Beanstalk-like vines climb on the entrance to the Explore Playground and Splash Pad in the Hoover Met Complex. The 15,000-square-foot playground and adjoining 7,000-square-foot splash pad are universally designed to be used by people of all ages and abilities.
Image 2- Slides, swings and climbing structures. The playground has something for everyone to enjoy, including innovative see-saw with four seats instead of the usual two, designed to accommodate users of all abilities.
Image 3 – Water shoots out in all directions in arches and globules to the delight of children in Hoover’s new splash pad, which is open from May 15 to Sept. 15. The playground is open year-round.
* Article By Jessica Armstong and Images Courtesy of Edward Badham Photography