By DAVID MARTIN
Joining an addition to the Akron Art Museum and a 10-story tower in a suburban Des Moines office park, an elementary-school playground in Lawrence has been named "Eyesore of the Month."
"Eyesore" is a regular feature on the blog of James Howard Kunstler, a writer who sees tragedy in the highway strips, McMansions and megamalls that surround us. Kunstler is the author of The Geography of Nowhere and The Long Emergency, a 2005 book that predicted the housing bubble would produce impressive "economic wreckage." (Kunstler 1, Greenspan 0.)
"Eyesore of the Month" provides photos of brief descriptions of various architectural atrocities. In June, Kunstler shared images of a playground at Broken Arrow Elementary School with his readers. Kunstler called the stark playground a "prison exercise-yard-in-training."
The Lawrence school system recently remodeled Broken Arrow Elementary and built a new junior high school on an adjoining piece of land. A school spokeswoman says the outdoor areas, "including playgrounds, athletic playing fields and landscaping, are still being addressed as part of those projects."
The architecture firm on the project, Gould Evans, was surely given soul-killing parameters to follow. (As Kuntsler points out, the playground looks like something a lawyer might design.) Steve Clark, an architect in Gould Evans' Lawrence office, says his firm agrees that the play area is not very nice.
"I think it's great when anyone shows care about the built environment, and particularly the environment that kids learn in," Clark writes in an e-mail. He adds, "I've followed James Howard Kunstler for some time now and find him entertaining."