How Design, Play, and Safety Came Together at Westfield

In 2014 the City of Westfield, New Jersey approached Life Floor and MRC to replace their poured-in-place splash pad surface at Westfield Memorial Pool Complex.

The poured-in-place rubber pellet surface was failing, uncomfortable, and slippery. What the city really needed was a true aquatic play surface that worked as a comprehensive solution, combining safety, comfort, and playful design. A surface that would allow kids to move freely, with easier maintenance, and a design the community could engage with and be excited about.

In the earliest stages of our product, we believed Life Floor made aquatic spaces safer to move through, but it was during this project where we confirmed it’s not just the qualities of the product that let kids play more: it’s the design. The product is practical, but it also has to be applied with the potential for joy.

Life Floor’s first design for Westfield combined geometric shapes in Terra Cotta, Bluebird, Sandstone and River Rock, which were the majority of our colors available at the time. After two years, Bruce Kaufman, the now-retired Director of the Recreation Department, said, “The texture has maintained its integrity over the past two summers and the color has lasted. Kids love it, parents love it. It is much more comfortable than what we had before.”

Using Color and Form to Encourage Play

Taking a few long-term to-do’s from this first installation at Westfield Memorial Pool, we were so excited to be able to offer an additional 19 colors to their 2019 design project as well as new installation techniques. In talking recently with Heather Re, Aquatic Supervisor at Westfield Memorial Pool, she affirmed our belief that we should always strive to make a product that operators and designers can create complete play spaces with:

“We love the new colors you guys have added in the last 4 years. We want the children’s area to really stand out, and now we hope to bring the color to the rest of the complex.”

Re was deeply involved in creating the vision for the new 2019 splash pad design. The city’s main objectives were to refresh the space as a way to drive membership sign-ups and to create a beautiful environment where families could share memories on social media.

“We went back and forth a few times with the design. My first thought was to have a kid’s carwash with the entrance into the zero-depth entry. And I thought it would be cool to have a river that connects the two flowing through the pad.”

Our Life Floor Studio department created several rivers for Westfield, but the city wasn’t sure a river design was the best fit after all. So, the Life Floor Studio tried a new take on Re’s idea.

“We saw the octopus design and it was perfect. That’s it! That’s the one! It still had the river feel to it with tentacles mimicking a river…  Even the city admin, who is a much harder sell because he likes things very branded, looked at me and says it’s not even a question, it’s that one. The design was just so fun, it was everything we wanted.”

And with Life Floor’s new installation partners, Inside Edge, the design was truly able to come to life with state of the art installation techniques and customer service. “Your installers are great, I watched the process and everything they did was good and quick! They installed so quickly. If they weren’t completely happy with how a tile was placed they would take the tile up and put down a new one to make sure it was good,” said Re.

Increasing Visitors with Playful Design

Westfield is one of our favorite designs and we’re so pleased to see how a playful design truly impacts the amount of visitors partaking in splash pad play. Recounts Re:

“We get people from all over the tri-state area to see the splash pad because we have Life Floor. When they ask about Life Floor I tell them it’s a soft, safe surface that prevents injuries from happening. And it’s fun! You guys really can do everything for designs. It may cost more because it’s more labor-intensive, but it’ll be safer.”