Pullen Park

I chose to observe Pullen Park. When you enter Pullen Park, it has this old-fashioned village appearance to it. The buildings are older looking and it feels as if they could disguise themselves as little shops within a sleepy neighborhood. However, the activities that occur within Pullen Park are quite the opposite. There is a lot of activity that occurs within the park due to the playground equipment, carousel, and train, however, on an empty day when there are no visitors, the architecture would not portray that. In fact, the carousel is even concealed within one of these buildings, disguising its fun nature. Additionally, all of the buildings are painted a deeper, muted green, which isn’t what I would qualify as an exciting color.

There is a long line of benches located at the entrance of the park, which makes me believe the designer imagined the entrance to be a communal space where people could relax and sit with one another. However, when I was observing, I was the only person on the bench, and throughout my time at the park, I was the only one who utilized the benches at the entrance. Additionally, in the main playground area where the playground equipment was, there were several benches, however these benches were either inconveniently placed or rarely utilized. I imagine that the benches located in the play areas were meant to be used by the parents, for the designer imagined parents resting there as their children played, however, during my observations I noticed that the benches were rarely utilized. Often, the kids would be moving so frequently between playground equipment that their parents were constantly having to chase them, resulting in them not having the opportunity to use the benches.

In the main playground area there is a section of the playground labeled for 2-5 year olds, however, during my observations I noticed that no one really adhered to the label. The 2-5 year old area is sectioned off with a fence, so it creates a somewhat separate environment from the rest of the park. Where this becomes troublesome is for families with multiple children. I noticed that there was one family who had two sons. One fit into the 2-5 year old range but his brother was older, and consequently, wanted to play on the older equipment. Due to this, the younger brother played on the older equipment as well because he didn’t want to be separated from his brother. However, a lot of the equipment he couldn’t utilize because he was two young. I imagine the designer added the fence because he/she felt it would prevent older kids from coming into that section and possibly overwhelm a younger child. Instead, it created this separation within the park, and due to that, the 2-5 year old area is rarely used for its intended purpose.

Another aspect I noticed about the park was that, on the weekends, there are speakers located around the park that play music. This helps create a more playful environment since the architecture and color of the buildings do the opposite. During my time at the park, I noticed that the speakers were only located near the main entrance and the playground equipment, and as one headed to the path by the pond, the speakers were gone. This creates two different environments through sound. The entrance, which contained the speakers came off as an area where activity was occurring, where the pond came across as a more relaxing, quiet area.

Overall, I feel that Pullen Park has created an environment that houses really exciting activities, however, when those activities aren’t occurring, it isn’t evident that the park is an exciting place, and instead it comes across more “sleepy” due to the architecture and colors.