NEST – Long Island City

Built for Open, Creative Play

NEST is an interactive sculptural playscape series designed and built by Tri-Lox. Inspired by nature, informed by play research, and made with natural material, NEST encourages exploration through open-ended play while inviting repose in its woven form. The highly customized modular and parametric design system is shaped by the context of each site and surrounding environment, here a new park in Long Island City designed by Starr Whitehouse.

Constructed from regionally-sourced wood and inspired by the nests of birds in the Northeast, NEST–LIC not only encourages non-prescriptive play, but also a connection to our natural world.

Design & Development

The design of NEST is a modular, parametric system with customization driven by its surrounding environment. The NEST series began with an installation at the Brooklyn Children’s Museum, while NEST–LIC occupies a small but impactful public green space surrounded by a dense cityscape of tall buildings and public transit. Designed to cultivate exploration and play for kids, NEST is also built to provide seating, rest, and shade for people of all ages.

The design considers how children play on their own and with each other, mapping out circuits for a range of ages. Additionally, the larger park design plays an integral part in the shape and positioning of NEST–LIC: One entrance aligns with a slide, while the other offers a direct route to the rest of the park’s play features.

Play theory and child development research inform the accessible design that also adheres to safety standards. The project team includes a play specialist and certified playground safety inspector (CPSI) to ensure these principles are considered from the outset.

From rendering to reality: NEST encourages exploration, creating varied yet interconnected worlds on both the inside and outside of the playscape.

Fabrication & Installation

The Tri-Lox team fabricated modules composed of Black Locust wood slats that fit into a stainless steel substructure. These modules come together to create the complex form that gives the playscape its unique aesthetic and invites play inside and out.

With the modules fully assembled and tested at the Tri-Lox Workshop, the team then configured and attached them onsite.

Natural, Sustainable Material

A native tree to the Northeast region, Black Locust is one of the highest density woods in North America. It’s known for its adaptability and resilience, growing in a wide variety of conditions and providing habitat for birds. As a building material, it is extremely strong, rot resistant, and naturally durable, making it ideal for exterior applications and a sustainable alternative to tropical hardwoods. Tri-Lox sources Black Locust from across the Northeast region, where it is selectively harvested in coordination with sustainable management practices that prioritize watershed health, habitat, and biodiversity.

Over time, Black Locust will develop a silver patina while remaining extremely hard-wearing.

In Use & At Play

NEST–LIC was inspired by the nests of three different warbler birds from our region: the Cerulean Warbler, the Northern Parula, and the Ovenbird. Like the habitats it’s modeled after, the playscape is a place of both activity and rest for everyone passing through SVEN (Queens Plaza) Park.


SVEN (Queens Plaza Park, Long Island City)


Spring 2023


The Durst Organization

Landscape Architect

Starr Whitehouse

Play Consultant

Sara Brunelle (Lu — La Studio)


PJ Rountree

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