Richard Dattner has been called a “Young Turk of radical urban playground design, a professional discipline that hadn’t even existed until [his] projects somewhat inadvertently invented it.” Using the term playscape distinguished his approach from prescriptive one-size-fits-all playgrounds, these play spaces encourage imaginative interaction and exploration inspired by child psychologists of the day. The new play environments were designed using durable, budget-conscious materials typical of an urban environment: stone, brick, sand, concrete, telephone poles, wood planks, rope, and metal pipe.
Dattner received commissions to completely re-imagine five of the twenty “necklace” playgrounds dotting the periphery of Central Park. Shortly thereafter, Dattner’s wrote Design for Play (1969) designing the parks—Adventure Playground, Hecksher Playground, Ancient Play Garden, 71st Street Playground, and the Water Playground. The manifesto and critical case study encouraged other communities to implement new playscapes, including Queens, New York; Tampa, Florida; and Tel Aviv, Israel.