One of the most striking and attractive features in the Kids’ Park in Mission Bay is the Willow Arches.

Park visitors and community members have a strong connection and affinity to the arches. They also take great pride in having these sculptural treasures in Mission Bay.

The Willow Arches offer a one-of-a-kind experience for young children to wander through and around while following their imaginations to new destinations with creativity and interest in the natural world—all while connecting with organic materials and beautiful forms in a safe urban setting.

An experience like no other in Mission Bay

After opening in 2016, the Kids’ Park has become one of the most popular destinations in Mission Bay.

It’s the perfect place to play and picnic for residents, visitors, and young kids. With a fenced playground for jumping, climbing, swinging, sliding, and bouncing, this park has a lot to offer.

Specifically designed for tots to school-aged children, the Kids’ Park is composed of natural themes of water, exploration, and discovery.

Kids’Park Willow Arches | Mission Bay Parks
The Kids’ Park Willow Arches are sculptural treasures that instill community pride | Mission Bay Parks

How the Willow Arches came to life in Mission Bay

The Willow Arches have a storied history in how they came to Mission Bay.

By working closely with Vanessa Orozco of Alta Engineering Group, Keith Sattler, and the Landscape Architectural team at rhaa, along with Luke Stewart with Mission Bay Development Group, the arches came to life through the inspiration, vision, and expertise of Neil Curry, founder of The Willow Farm.

Located in Pescadero, CA, The Willow Farm | TWF is a family-owned business lead by Neil and Alix Curry. They emigrated from Australia over twenty years ago with a vision to provide aesthetic and commercial solutions using natural willow tree material that didn’t compromise ecologically sound farming practices.

Vision, creativity, and craftsmanship flourish

Neil’s original concept for the Willow Arches centered on creating a group of structures that integrated wattle willow tree branches.

This natural material has been used for over six thousand years and is frequently seen in the UK as fencing and windbreak barriers. The Willow Farm team did not invent the use of willow tree branch material. However, their application of it is unique in adapting willow beyond traditional fencing barriers and into new creative opportunities.

Leyla Curry, Project Manager at The Willow Farm, added,

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“The willow arches were the result of a very collaborative development process that included input, exploration, prototyping, and many revisions that led to the final installation at the Kids’ Park at Mission Bay.”
Leyla Curry | The Willow Farm

Neil initially shared his concept for the arches with the landscape architects at rhaa in his drawings below. And after much discussion and review, the TWF team made a larger scale prototype at The Willow Farm to demonstrate the concept.

Kids’Park Willow Arches Design | Mission Bay Parks
Neil Curry’s original design sketches of the Willow Arches | Mission Bay Parks
The Willow Arch prototype | Mission Bay Parks
The Willow Arch prototype made at The Willow Farm | Mission Bay Parks

Interestingly, as architects often prefer more modern and streamlined application of materials and forms, the development process included a “push and pull” tension to arrive at a solution that was both organic and approachable but also contemporary and distinctive.

The result of the collaborative effort was a perfect fit of natural materials into the urban setting at the Kids’ Park at Mission Bay.

The arches were built on-site in the Kids’ Park by The Willow Farm team. Jeremiah Stent executed the welding of the structural skeleton forms. Octavio Juarez and Manuel Vargas were the artisan craftsmen that integrated the natural willow branch material into the forms.

The decades of experience and craftsmanship is apparent in the beautifully finished arches.

Willow Arches fabrication + installation | Mission Bay Parks
Onsite fabrication + installation of the Willow Arches | Mission Bay Parks
Kids’ Park Willow Arches | Mission Bay Parks
The Willow Arches exude beauty and craftsmanship from every perspective | Mission Bay Parks

Overdue for some tender loving care

With so much attraction and use over many years, the Willow Arches have become a bit worn. Overly enthusiastic kids have also helped to degrade the willow branches. And, as with any aging organic material, some of the willows have become brittle and broken.

The result is the arches are in need of some maintenance and loving care.

The Willow Arches are scheduled for thorough maintenance and updating which will include weaving new willow material into the existing branches on the arches.

Willow has been used for over 6,000 years

As Leyla Curry shared, “The goal is to not put a band-aid on the disfigured areas but instead, integrate new willow material in a way that enhances the arch form and aesthetically reinforces the structure.”

Repair work will be completed by the same artisan craftsman from The Willow Farm that fabricated and installed the original arches over seven years ago.

The arches are currently unavailable for use and the upgrade and maintenance work is scheduled to begin in March 2021. If everything proceeds as planned, the work will hopefully be completed in April 2021.

Support the Kids’Park #Willow #Arches with #respect + #appreciation—not abuse | Mission Bay Parks Click To Tweet

Help us respect + preserve these sculptural icons

Once the maintenance and repair work is finished and the arches are available for use, we hope that all Kids’ Park visitors and Mission Bay residents exercise oversight and encourage their children to respect these unique park features.

As natural elements in the middle of a dense urban setting, they deserve appreciation without abuse.

Ready to plan your outdoor event here?

Our Kids’ Park Event Packages make planning your family picnic, a child’s birthday party, or just a play-time get together quick and easy. We offer three, simple event solutions that provide the opportunity to reserve a specific location right within the Kids’ Park.

To learn more about planning an event at the Mision Bay Kids’ Park, just follow the five steps outlined on our Event Planning page and submit an application for an Event Permit. We look forward to working with you and hosting your event at Mission Bay Parks.


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We look forward to seeing you and your little ones in Mission Bay to enjoy all that our unique Kids’ Park offers.
Please stay healthy and safe.

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