Mikel and David Blair — an entrepreneurial husband and wife team with ties to the Washington area’s sports and health industries, as well as social and philanthropic scenes — are parents to six children between the ages of 5 and 20 and the creators of the trailblazing play space, Badlands.
Streetsense partnered with Mikel and David Blair to conceptualize and design a nature-inspired place space and interactive environment in Maryland. Endeavoring to move away from traditionally designed, static play environments, Streetsense set out to build a new space that would layer key characteristics of nature, play, and experiential learning to create a highly individualized adventure for each child upon every visit.
After an extensive research and development phase, a blended Streetsense team of research analysts, brand strategists, interior designers, and landscape architects determined three areas of focus that would set Badlands apart as an unprecedented play space: the creation of zones of proximal development, the incorporation of nature into indoor play, and the accommodation of caregivers in addition to the children. With these considerations in mind, Badlands was designed to give every child — regardless of age — an organic, imaginative, and empowering play experience while meeting adult needs for trusted supervision of children, relaxing spaces, and elevated food and beverage options.
An open and dynamic built environment, Badlands creates refined moments for learning through both active and passive play in workshop and builder spaces, an amphitheater and screening room, rotating interactive exhibits, and programmed event pavilions. Upon entering the space, adults and children alike are drawn to attractions like the mountain, an exhilarating challenge that inspires adventure and safe risk taking, and a stone-filled creek winding through a forest of birch trees. Lauded by Washingtonian as the Best Kids’ Play Space in 2018, Badlands invigorates the traditionally un-inspired play arena with freshly focused and exceptional fun for children of every age.