Northbrook Play developers say the facility provides a museum-quality children’s experience designed for interactivity and accessibility for kids of all ages to play, imagine, invent and explore.
The space was created in a partnership between mall owner and operator Brookfield Properties, the Chicago Children’s Museum and Luci Creative, a Chicago-based museum and exhibit design firm. Sponsorship came from the Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago.
Northbrook Play provides free entry, wheelchair accessibility and stroller parking.
“We listened to our community, and an engaging, family-focused experience at Northbrook Court was exactly what our guests have been asking for,” said Northbrook Court General Manager Brian Lee.
Northbrook Play represents the first collaboration between Brookfield Properties and the Chicago Children’s Museum.
The goal is to bring adventures in both imaginative and physical play into a retail space within a mall environment, said Katy Slivovsky, exhibit development director at the Chicago Children’s Museum.
Child development experts and educators from the museum researched, developed and tested potential designs to ensure the experiential viability for young learners, Slivovsky said.
“We wanted the exhibits to welcome creativity, to be unique and evolving, offering kids a new experience with each visit, and inviting them to imagine and create from scratch.” she said.
Play zones include a family room, a terrain area, a workshop, a stage and hideouts all intended to instill confidence in young guests, while providing visual access to parents and caregivers.
A parent’s lounge enables caregivers to observe children as they interact and play within the different areas.
“Northbrook Play is going to be an incredible asset for parents and families in the community, bringing imaginative, playful and transformative environments and quality play to this unexpected setting,” said AJ Goehle, executive director at Luci Creative.
The space is curated to include loose parts for interaction, Slivovsky says. Costumes for kids to dress up in, a comfy nest for pre-walkers to explore their senses, a places to climb, stuffed animals to interact with and a selfie photo station are all part of the design.
Fatima Ayala of Deerfield experienced Northbrook Play on Oct. 25 when the doors first opened, a few days in advance of the grand opening.
“When you look around, the colors and textures are so inviting, and it all seems like a perfect space for toddlers or for older kids to play,” Ayala said.
Northbrook Play plans to include a series of STEM workshops and activities provided by Noggin Builders, which will help kids to build problem solving skills.
Amy Torf, owner and founder of Noggin Builders in Northbrook, said “in the workshops children can explore, build, and create in classes, drop-in events, parties and camps.”
Originally published at Chicago Tribune.