The Central Massachusetts YWCA is a midcentury modern historical building in the downtown area of Worcester that is undergoing revitalization efforts to renovate the building for its modern uses. Offshoots, Inc was hired to design the grounds of the site and is responsible for new preschool and daycare playgrounds, the community garden, as well as the parking and circulation redesign. Each of these elements of the landscape brought with them their own goals and their own design challenges.
Offshoots strove to create playgrounds constructed with not just traditional built play structures, but also natural elements to encourage exploration and adventurous play. A ‘Magic Tree’ was incorporated into the playground, around which many of the playground activities occur, encouraging creativity and discovery.
Typical designs were challenged in the access to the building as well. Parking and circulation areas were redesign and selectively planted to create a green visual buffer that will hide vehicles, but also filter stormwater runoff from the site. Special care was put into the native plant choices so as to create both habitat and nectar sources for pollinators continuously throughout the year. A central community garden has also been created to provide opportunities for low income residence to have access to vegetable gardens in downtown Worcester.