From "State of Play: How Tot Lots Became Places to Build Children's Brains" by Rebecca Mead, in the July 5th issue of The New Yorker:
Blocks are an essential element at the new Imagination Playground, which is [architect David] Rockwell's contribution to playground design. Five years in the making, it is schedule to open later this summer, at Burling Slip, at the South Street Seaport.... Rockwell's playground has no monkey bars, or swings, or jungle gyms. It has almost no fixed equipment at all, except for a dual-level, three-thousand-square-foot sandpit; a pool with running water; four masts, ranging from eleven to fourteen feet high, equipped with ropes and pulleys; and a sixteen-foot tower in the form of a crow's nest....
The imagination Playground will, however, have hundred of what play theorists call "loose parts": big lightweight blocks made from bright-blue molded foam.... In an influential essay entitled "How Not to Cheat Children: The Theory of Loose Parts," [architect Simon] Nicholson wrote, "In any environment, both the degree of inventiveness and creativity, and the possibility of discovery, are directly proportional to the number and kind of variables in it."
Hmm. Could it be that I need more loose parts in my life?!