Sustainable Design Benefits Community at Dallas CASA’s 2020 Parade of Playhouses
Kimley-Horn, Balfour Beatty, Harmon, and BrightView Partner to Promote Play and Learning Through “The Harvest House”
For the past two years, Kimley-Horn has participated in the Parade of Playhouses design competition, an annual fundraising event hosted by the non-profit Dallas CASA. Dedicated to advocating in the community and court room for children in foster care, Dallas CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates) supported more than 3,600 abused or neglected children in Dallas County alone in 2019, allowing them to grow up in safe, permanent homes where they can thrive.
Dallas CASA’s annual Parade of Playhouses event brings together design and construction teams to raise awareness and benefit the children of the organization. Each team brainstorms a theme for their design and then creates a playhouse for display during the parade. Community members purchase raffle tickets that act as votes toward their favorite playhouse and all profits go directly to Dallas CASA. At the end of the event, the playhouses are raffled off, ensuring they remain a staple of the community for years to come.
Last year, Kimley-Horn’s Jonathan Campbell was approached by KDC to be on their team with another contractor, TDIndustries. Using the Autism puzzle piece symbol as inspiration, Jonathan and Kimley-Horn teammates including Nik Adams, Marie Robirds, Alysa Gapinski, Ben Levy, and Madison Wavra, along with KDC and TDIndustries partners, created a unique sensory adventure that allowed children to explore without limitations. While the design was imagined for children with Autism, the playhouse was an inclusive play environment for children of all ages and abilities. “It was immediately evident to us that this theme would be powerful,” said Jonathan. “It touched each member of the design team in different ways.
This year, when KDC approached Kimley-Horn to participate in the parade again, Jonathan and Kimley-Horn teammates Kenzie Porter, Nik Adams, Marie Robirds, Alysa Gapinski, Leah Campbell, and Samantha Eaton knew they wanted their playhouse to once again tell an impactful story and benefit the community. “During the COVID-19 pandemic, we’ve realized now more than ever the importance of providing children with a sense of safety and security,” says Jonathan. “We had the idea of using the playhouse to teach kids—and even adults—that it’s fun and feasible to grow your own food.”
The team wanted the design to be sustainable and educational, says Samantha Eaton. “Our design, called ‘The Harvest House,’ shows kids they can grow and eat their own plants. They can see water collect in the rainwater cistern, and then can use that water to help the plants grow! We mixed learning with play to get the best of both worlds.” Harvest House also features a rooftop garden and a tiny kitchen. The playhouse celebrates sustainability, renewable energy, crop propagation, and the integration of wellness into design.
Kimley-Horn was grateful to collaborate with partners, including Balfour Beatty, Harmon, and BrightView, that provided materials and services pro-bono. “It was great to see the collaboration among industry partners,” says Jonathan. “We worked with talented people who were eager to help spread this message of sustainability and food education and raise awareness about Dallas CASA—both of which will benefit the community.”
About the Parade of Playhouses
Dallas CASA’s 25th annual Parade of Playhouses takes place July 10th to July 26th at NorthPark Center in Dallas and online. The playhouses are available to win by purchasing individual raffle tickets for $5 or five for $20 online. Winners will be randomly selected at the end of the event on July 26th.