June 10, 2024 - The momentum continues at Exploration Place! The design and plans for Exploration Place’s Destination Playscape, led by Hoerr Schaudt, were featured in numerous articles this week as the Junior League of Wichita announced their $2 million dollar gift to fund the creation of the Water Play Cascades.

The Junior League of Wichita celebrates its 100th anniversary with this donation. “We are thrilled to celebrate our centennial by giving this extraordinary gift to the community,” said Ami Schlader, president of the league. “The Water Play Cascades exemplify our commitment to advancing women's leadership and fostering meaningful community impact through collaborative action.”

The Water Play Cascades, a water playscape comprised of water channels, runnels, and boulders winding down a concave, bowl-like hillside into a central flexible water plaza, is one of ten unique playscapes inside the 6.5 acres of waterfront park, a $25 million civic investment. 

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Exploration Place Master Plan

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Collage of Wichita community engagement throughout the design process.

Junior Exploration Place's president and CEO. "We know how popular water play is from our indoor exhibits, and we can't wait for our families to work together in such a fun and creative environment.”

The playscape aspires to become a regional cultural and recreational catalyst and national attraction, embodying science-centric and interpretive play while showcasing Kansas’ unique ecologies, cultures, economies, and histories through its design. The project vision celebrates inclusive and sensory-forward design, honoring diverse abilities and play experiences while serving as a conduit for site histories, local identity, and community.

While the design is still being finalized through this fall, the groundbreaking on the playscape will happen later this June. The park will officially open to the public next fall.

Officials are expecting this expansion to boost visitation from an average of 400,000 visitors to exceeding one million visitors a year.

See some of the recent features sharing the news here and here.

A huge congratulations to the full team, including: Fluidity Design, Abundant Playscapes, Kanics Inclusive Design, Schaefer Architects, Garver, Basis Lighting, Ecosystems, JBC, and Dondlinger Construction. The play elements were also conceptualized in collaboration with Monstrum, Kompan, and Richter Spielgeraete.

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