Monday, March 22, 2010

Town & Country - April issue

Out on a Limb

When Philadelphia’s Morris Arboretum hired architect Alan Metcalfe to create a family exhibit, he vetoed the usual children’s garden, where mothers often end up stranded with their tots. Instead, he designed suspended walkways leading to decks fifty feet above ground, affording vistas grand enough to attract adults but frightening enough to thrill children. “What we didn’t count on was the social component,” says Metcalfe about the Tree Adventure, which opened last summer. On any given weekend, kids sprawl on giant faux robins’ eggs in an enclosed nest, and families may be found congregating on rope netting that covers holes in a deck built around trees. Couples gaze upward as if in a hammock, while mothers watch children roll down and crawl back up the mesh of ropes. “Parents are a bit nervous about going out there,” Metcalfe says. “It’s exciting for kids to feel they’re the ones in control.” 100 East Northwestern Avenue; 215-247-5777; Cathleen McCarthy

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