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Bowman Teams with Museum of Makers and Innovators (MOMI) to Create the First Certified Playful Learning Landscape in New Jersey at Morris Marketplace Thinkscape

September 22, 2022
Morris Township, NJ
Morris Marketplace - MOMI

Bowman is contracted to provide landscape architecture services for the Morris Marketplace Thinkscape, an 8,000-square-foot community park in Morris Township, New Jersey. Designed by Bowman, in collaboration with the Museum of Makers and Innovators (MOMI), the park will be the first certified Playful Learning Landscape in New Jersey. The Playful Learning Landscapes Action Network, near Philadelphia, certifies Playful Learning Centers based on five principles of how kids learn: making it fun, active, engaging, meaningful and socially interactive. MOMI applied for certification and received it in April 2022. With this project, Bowman hopes to inspire the creation of more playful communities in the state and highlight its innovation of urban spaces.   

Bowman’s involvement with the project for landscape architecture resulted from DeVimy Equities and Accurate Builders bringing on the team in August 2020 to develop the designs for two retail plazas and the pocket park within the overall Morris Marketplace development. Bowman worked closely with Robert Indig, managing partner of DeVimy Equities who recommended Bowman as the landscape architecture firm for this new park.

As the project expanded, MOMI proposed advancing the design of the community pocket park as a Playful Learning Thinkscape – an innovative approach to retail spaces. Playful learning spaces are designed to foster learning through play in which both parents or caregivers and children can interact.  Based in New Jersey, MOMI was established in 2018 and strives to build more playful communities and hopes to create a new, world-class children’s museum in the state.

Working closely with MOMI, Bowman is providing landscape architecture expertise to guide the evolution of the park. Started in July 2022, the combination of the vision of Sara Sorenson, president and founder of MOMI, and Bowman’s expertise has been essential to the park’s successful innovative design. Bowman also provided traffic engineering services to the Morris Marketplace development. 

“Bowman’s involvement with MOMI’s park project has been the perfect opportunity for our experienced landscape architecture team to get creative, learn and be involved in playful learning,” said Jaryd Moran, principal at Bowman. The park is scheduled to be completed within the next six months.

The Morris Marketplace Thinkscape will include prompts on how to interact with the elements, or installations, along with activity learning stations throughout the park, including: 

  • A sound garden with free-standing musical flowers
  • A “story spinner” which is a board where children can rotate images and create a story based on what images appear on the board
  • A red pole forest to further children’s sense of adventure
  • A standing memory game, where children and adults can exercise their memory skills 
  • A stepping stones path that leads park guests throughout the Thinkscape space
  • A wall of water with flat stones, on which children can draw with chalk or use a bucket of water and their fingers to express their artistic abilities

“Jaryd Moran and the Bowman team have been incredible partners. Upon our first meetings, I knew immediately that they understood what we were trying to do. Many of them are parents themselves and they knew how innovative this approach was – to create a family-friendly space that was both fun and educational at a new retail development. We appreciate Bowman’s open-mindedness as they work with us on how to incorporate our playful learning ideas into the existing park design,” said MOMI President Sara Sorenson.