If you work for the Choctaw Nation, live in or near Durant, and have young children, you are very blessed! Durant, Oklahoma is a thriving community nestled about 30 miles north of the Texas border. It is also home to the Headquarters of the Choctaw Nation.
The Choctaw Nation is one of the largest employers in the city of Durant, and they saw a need for early childhood care within their community, so they reached out to Childers Architecture and asked them to create a state-of-the-art child care facility.
For over a year, I worked directly with the landscape architect, and together, we created a fabulous play space for the children. The early childhood center sits on Big Lots Drive, just across the street from the Choctaw Nation Headquarters. The playground covers 18,000 square feet and is divided by fencing to allow for appropriate play given the ages of the children. One area is designed for children ages 2-5, while the other area is designed to entertain and educate the infants and toddlers. The entire playground is covered in shade, and there is synthetic turf and berms throughout.
An important aspect in the design was to incorporate some of the Choctaw Nation’s heritage into this playground. Working with Themed Concepts out of Minnesota, we were able to create a “Lean To” where we placed interesting educational panels on each side. The Lean To offers the children insight into the life of the early tribal members, promotes inquisitive thinking, and educates the children with fun and interesting facts about a variety of topics—animals, nature, and science.
I love all the projects I am involved with, but I must tell you, this one ranks at the top in terms of what I am most proud of. There was a vast amount of planning, scheduling, work, COVID issues, weather delays, supply chain problems, and fire! Yes, that is right…. fire. So, I lost s few nights sleep and gained a few gray hairs throughout this project. Let me expand…
I had everything scheduled, ready to ship at the appropriate times. It was March 2021, and we were about a week away from shipping the equipment out of Lewisburg. That’s when the fire broke out at the Playworld factory. That is when my world turned upside down.
Playworld suffered a fire in their fluid bed lines. The FBL is where we dip and coat our decks for all the playgrounds, and it is housed not too far away from the shipping docks. Thankfully, no one was hurt, and the fire was contained to this area, but losing the FBLs and our shipping docks was a huge setback. It caused a delay of about a month for me. Not good. Losing a month when the project was already behind schedule created a great deal of anxiety, not only for me, but for the General Contractor as well. Who, by the way, was Manhattan Construction Company. You know, that lil’ ol’ construction company based out of Tulsa, OK…… LOL
I wish my dad were alive so he could hear me say this: Being raised by a career Marine made me understand and appreciate “order” and “orders”. My Dad, born and raised in New York, was your typical New Yorker. He talked fast. He didn’t hold back. He had no filter. He just told it like it was. Growing up with this, there were times I thought he was the meanest, cruelest person alive. I used to tell people, “Look up the word discipline in the dictionary, and you will see a picture of my dad”. But really, he was teaching me life lessons that would bode very well for me. Thank you Dad!
So, you might be wondering how this has anything to do with my project. LOL. …Joe if you are reading this, you know exactly how this little story will tie into our project!
In the end, we did finish on time. My crew members Leo, Carlos, Fernando, John, and Richard were incredible. We all pulled together and completed the project. I hope you enjoy the video! Happy Playgrounds - YouTube
“Building Communities One Playground at a Time”